Probate List Criteria


I’ve heard from a lot of folks that their direct mail results have been dismal for probates, so today I want to be sure you’re setting up your probate list criteria to get the best results possible.   

Ever since Covid-19 came into our world, the courts quickly shut down in most areas.  For some cities, they are either still mainly closed to the public or there is limited access.  If you live in a state where everything is online, you are in a much better position than a large portion of the country. 

No matter what your exact situation is with regards to the courts, I am hearing from investors everywhere that there is still a huge backlog of cases still waiting to get through the process.  That is certainly true in my area.  How long will it take to get back to normal?  I don’t think anyone has the answer to that one. In the meantime, we can focus on what we can control.  One of those things is the quality of your list. 

Today I want to go over the steps I take when I am creating my list for probates.


Setting Up Your Probate List Criteria

When you get your initial list of probate properties, as you remember you need the name and address of the deceased and the personal representative for your marketing purposes.  For this exercise, we are going to focus solely on the property in the estate.  Not every property will end up on my mailing list.


How do I choose which properties I put on my list? 

First of all, you start with the end in mind. What’s your exit strategy?  Hopefully, you have more than one. If you are a rehabber or a buy and hold landlord, you will know what your buying criteria is for these properties. But what about properties that are good properties, but they’re not something you’re personally interested in?  Those are wholesale deals.  As you can see, you should have at least 2 exit strategies for every property.


Here is the Process I Follow 

Once we have the list for last month’s probate cases filed, each one is looked upon the tax assessor’s site.  Sorry, but there is no shortcut for this.  However, this is the way you get your probate criteria right before you ever spend one dime on direct mail. 

Here is an outline of the steps I go through. I have all the details in the video and the podcast below so be sure to check those out.

The first two steps are a simple yes or no, and if either one comes up a “no” it doesn’t go on my list.  There is no further research needed.

  1. Location (yes-no)
  2. Price (too expensive, too cheap)
  3. Size: What is the square footage?
  4. Is the property listed?  (May or may not be an issue)
  5. Would the property be considered “functionally obsolete”? (Could be harder to sell)
  6. Wholesalers: where do they buy? Is this a property they would be interested in?
  7. Will the property cash flow if your rehab doesn’t sell?


Fatal Flaws

One last thing I would like to mention is what I call fatal flaws. These are things that will make the property extremely difficult to sell, therefore I won’t buy these.  They might include:

  • Steep driveways or properties located at the top of a steep hill
  • Properties on a corner lot on a busy street
  • Busy streets in general that are considered main access roads
  • Unacceptable layouts that can’t be fixed without a major gut and reconfiguration of the space
  • Properties in flood plains etc. 

Anything that would cause most buyers to say no to a property, is a no for me.


Scrubbing Your List

This is one thing investors consistently fail to do.  You can’t put a probate list together and never clean it up.  So, what do I mean by that?  If you don’t remove properties that have sold, it will cost you a lot of money over time. Ideally, this should be done at least quarterly.

Think back to the process.  Every month you are adding new probates to your list. If you never remove properties that have sold, your list will eventually contain properties that are no longer available.


Return Mail

You should always go through your return mail every month.

Stop and think about it for a minute. If you got these letters back, so did everyone else.  It’s likely that some properties ended up on your list that were “marginal” the first time around.  They met most of your criteria, but they weren’t your favorites.  When you are deciding whether to skip trace these properties, you will want to take another look at these before spending the money skip tracing them.  Skip tracing good leads will be some of the best money you spend to get deals from your probate list.


Final Thoughts

Taking the time from the very beginning to create a good list of probate leads will pay big dividends down the road.  Are these steps you take when putting your list together?  What criteria are you using for these lists?


Be sure to get your sample probate letter on the Louisville Gal’s Real Estate Blog.  You can also get one on Probate Investing Simplified.


Here's Your Video  – Setting Up Your Probate List Criteria to Get the Best Results Possible

Rather watch? You can do that here.


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