I have found probate investing to be one of the most lucrative niches in real estate investing. It is also one that most people assume is difficult to navigate. The truth of the matter is that it is a relatively simple and straightforward process once you have a basic understanding of the probate process.
How Do I Find Out Where I Can Get A List Of Probates?
It’s really easy. Look up the phone number for your local probate court and give them a call. Ask how you can get a list of probates. They will tell you exactly how their system works.
In my city they are published in the newspaper so those leads are free. But be aware, that they have different procedures in different areas. In some areas you can get those leads online, or you may even be able to purchase a list. While purchasing a list may not be your first choice, it sure beats going down to the courthouse to get those records which is the case in some areas.
The important thing is to make the call to the probate court and begin the process.
What information do you need to begin the process?
There are only 4 pieces of information that you need to get started:
The name and address for the executor or personal representative and the name and address of the deceased. That's it.
What's the difference in an executor and a personal representative?
An executor is the person appointed by the court to carry out the provisions in a Last Will and Testament.
A personal representative has two meanings: a person who manages the financial affairs of another person or the person appointed by the court to settle an estate. The court-appointed personal representative is an executor if there is a will or an administrator if there is no will.
Once you have the address of the deceased is where you might hit your first snag. When you have been doing this for a while, you will begin to recognize addresses that belong to nursing homes. If the address for the deceased turns out to belong to a nursing home, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they didn’t own real property.
You will have to look that person up on the tax assessor’s site.
How Do I Find My Local Tax Assessor’s Site?
All you have to do is type into search bar on the internet, “Property valuation and the name of your county and State.” So I would type in, “Property Valuation Jefferson County KY”.
The PVA or Tax Assessor’s Site; Your New Best Friend
In most areas, there is at least some information you can on these sites free.
But what you really need is a paid subscription to get all the information that is available. It is only $25 a month here to have complete access to this site, and from what I’ve heard it is generally pretty affordable most everywhere. You can get a wealth of information from the Property Valuation Site (PVA) or Tax Assessor’s site such as the basic property information, how long the person has owned the property, tax records and much, much more. I would advise everyone to purchase a monthly subscription.
How Will This Information On the PVA Help Me?
You can look up properties by several different methods; by name, the address, parcel ID, or legal description. Most of the time, you will just use the name or address to look up a property.
Having the ability to look up these properties, will help you determine if this is a lead you want to pursue. You might find that:
-The property is in a bad area or a war zone
-The property is just too far away from your target area.
-The property is too expensive. If your market is bread and butter homes with an ARV of $60,000-$100,000 and this house has a value of $300,000, you will know immediately not to include this house in your leads.
Once you are working in this niche, you can check also this site from time to time to see if a property has been sold.
Be sure to check back next week next week for more tips on working in the niche of probates.
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Thank you this is a great article, appreciate the tips
Thanks for stopping by.
Hi Sharon, I’m really just getting started in investing. I’m pretty sure I want to concentrate on probates & absentee owners. When using yellowletters.com, for A.O. -postcards, is the pricing the same in the 2nd, 3rd, & future repeat orders, or is it discounted since it’s going out to the same list.
I don’t have much money for marketing, and I wonder if I should try to buy the leads & postcards separately.
Thanks, Dan Smith
Dan – the costs remain the same, so the price is the same. My affiliate code will save you some money on your first mailing.
I can tell you this; they are pretty cheap as those places go. It will cost you more in stamps, toner and card stock than it would for you to have them do it. Look up postage on postcards.
Just build a list on the amount of people you can mail to every month and do that. Once you close a deal, then you can invest some of that money into marketing. With absentee owners you can buy a list, but with probates you will need to find out how to get that. Cal your local probate court and ask them if there is a list.
Hey Sharon, I’ve always enjoyed reading your posts, and I actually got into probate investing due to reading about your success. I have a quick, very important question for you, that I think could really help me in my marketing effort. I would greatly appreciate if you could give me you advice from past experience.
I am sending out letters to executors in my area, but my response rate is low. I believe it’s because i am not sending the letter inside a “Handwritten” envelope, but instead it’s printed & automated envelope to save on postage with a standard mail stamp. Here’s my question: Did you ever try mailing using printed envelopes, then got a low open/response rate, then you decided to switch to handwritten envelopes? Or, have you always used handwritten. I don’t want to get hung up on response rates, BUT I only have so much money to spend, and I want to spend it wisely. Thank you for ANY help Sharon. -James-
James – I have always used handwritten envelopes, and I think it is really important (along with an actual stamp).
I found a college gal to fold, stuff and hand address for $11 per 100. You just can’t beat that. She can kick back, watch TV and make money. That’s why I pay by the hundred. She has a second job making $8 an hour as a lifeguard which she pays taxes out of. So she loves my job. Never give anyone stamps. Get those letters back to ensure they were actually done property and put the postage on yourself.
Use that time to find another deal. Thanks for reading!
Dan – I really don’t understand that. Where do you live?
SE Wisconsin. Racine, Kenosha, and Walworth counties. I’m in between Chicago and Milwaukee markets. I think my next step is to go to the county in person.
Hi Sharon, I’ve called the probate office in the 3 counties that I look for property in and asked how I can obtain a probate list or records and each has asked me the name of the person I’m looking for. I explain I’m not looking for any one person but a list or records and they seem dumbfounded to that question. They tell me no such list is available. Any advice? Thank you!
Thank you Sharon! I’m grateful that I’ve stumbled upon your site. I am somewhat new to real estate investing. I’ve actually purchased 3 single family homes in the last 18 months and have done well with all 3. All 3 were found through the MLS. The challenge is in finding more properties in a shorter time period. I believe that sending direct mail to probate lists and absentee owners will work very well in my area. Thank you for providing the information that you do. Very much appreciated!
Hi Dan and welcome.
I have a lot of information on my site about these niches and also about direct mail. You can search by subject on my blog. My getting started section might be something that would help you too. Lastly, be sure to check out the video interviews I have done with other folks. There is a wealth of information that they have to share about escaping the 9 to 5. They can be found in the video category. Good luck with your business and keep me posted on how it’s going. I will have a course out (hopefully) by summer on working with probates and absenee owners.
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! 🙂
I hope this helps. I though of you when I wrote it.