Absentee owners are a group of off-market sellers that can be a great source of leads. So, how does someone become an absentee owner? There are generally two ways; by choice or by circumstances. Today we’ll go over what an absentee owner is and how to work with them.
Becoming an Absentee Owner
Someone can become an absentee owner in many different ways, but it could be due to one of these things:
1. A job loss
2. Job relocation by choice
3. A desire (or a need) to move that leaves them with a property they can’t sell
4. Death or divorce
5. Property that was inherited
6. Some other life events or circumstances.
What’s the Difference Between In State Absentee Owners and Out of State Absentee Owners?
In-state absentee owners live in the same state, but they have a property in another county or city. Out of state absentee owners are just that they live in another state.
I have found that for an absentee owner to feel like a property is too much of a “PITB” (pain in the butt”) to keep, it has to be about 3 to 3 1/2 hours away from where they live. In my state, Kentucky, you can get from one side of the state to about 3 hours. For that reason, I never found in-state absentee owners to be very motivated to sell. They can get to their property pretty quickly in most cases.
If you live in a state that’s big geographically like California or Texas, that’s a totally different story. It can take you a long time to get from one part of the state to another. That can make a seller very motivated when they finally decide they’ve had enough and want to sell the property. In-state absentee owners are a valuable lead source in these areas. (We’re back to the “PITB” factor again).
Success Tip: Make it Easy for Them to Work with You
To find out what these sellers need, just ask them. Once you find out what’s holding them back from selling the property, your job is to take care of that for them. Remove that barrier. Maybe they need you to:
• Meet the utility company
• Arrange to meet a locksmith
• Get a key to the property from someone else
• Arrange to have the property cleaned out
• Pay for fines and/or liens as part of the closing (you include these costs in your offer)
• Have someone secure the property if it’s been vandalized
There could be a lot of things that might be preventing them from moving forward. These are things that might not be a big deal if they didn’t live so far away.
You want to become a trusted resource for these out-of-state absentee owners. Be aware that they may have more than one property. When you are talking to a motivated seller, be sure to ask the question, is this the only property you have.
Tips for Working with Absentee Owners
I have put together a list of frequently asked questions that will help you when working with these motivated sellers.
1. Does the seller have to attend the closing? No, they don’t. Everything can be taken care of through a service like UPS or Fed-X. They will, however, have to sign the documents in front of a notary. A good place to do this is their bank, where they are known.
2. Do they have to meet you at the house at any point? They don’t. Everything can be handled on the phone. You just need access to the property.
3.What if they have reservations about dealing with a stranger? Offer to do a video call. You can get a free Zoom account and schedule a face-to-face meeting with them. This is helpful when it comes to establishing the “know, like, and trust factor.”
4. What’s the best way to make an offer? Once again, the best way is face to face via Zoom if they are out of your area. You can also just pick up the phone and talk to them. A lot of investors prefer to do it this way. They just feel more comfortable making the offer on the phone.
5. How can I make them understand the poor condition of the property? This one is easy. Take lots of pictures and make a cell phone video. A picture is worth a thousand words.
Here is another tip for you: fill out a contract before getting on the scheduled call. Once you have them on a call, hit the send button. That way, you can tell them you’ve sent them a written offer while you’re talking to them. I like to explain the offer to them before they actually see it. That process works really well for me.
What are the Absolute Best Absentee Owners?
You may have heard the term lead stacking or super list. What that means is that the seller has several layers of motivation. Here is an example: A probate lead where the family or the executor is out of state, the property has a lot of equity and needs a lot of repairs or updates. Can you see where this would be a much more valuable lead than just an absentee owner? What about an absentee owner with a property they can’t rent or sell that has been vandalized, and they now have code violations? This would also be a very motivated seller.
Any time you have 2 or 3 different motivations to sell that is a very valuable lead.
Success in real estate ultimately comes down to getting sellers to choose you. You do that with strong branding and a willingness to solve their problems so they can move on with their life. We are in the marketing business and the problem-solving business that just happens to involve real estate.
I like to use postcards primarily for absentee owner mailings. Why? Because they are cheaper, and I’ve found that they work really well. However, I used a computer-generated letter for a long time, and that worked really well too. So, I have a couple of resources for you today.
One is a copy of my absentee owner letter that I use when I’m sending a letter. I’ll put a link here so you can get that totally free. Get your free letter.
The second resource is my course, Probate Investing Simplified. Do yourself a favor and check it out.
When you find an absentee owner that is also settling an estate, that leads is one of the best leads you can get your hands on. But… you need to know the ins and outs of working with folks in probate. You need to be able to show up as “the expert.”
Let me know if you have any questions.
Thanks for Listening!
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