From the BiggerPockets Blog

 BiggerPockets Blog »

Jump to Forum View All

Click a category below to view different forum categories.

BiggerPockets

General Info

BiggerPockets Q&A, Site Questions, & Announcements

1514 topics, 14412 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 05:53PM

BiggerPockets Exclusive PRO Area

117 topics, 841 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 08:28AM

New Member Introductions

11000 topics, 86733 posts — Last Post 04/25/14, 12:36AM

Real Estate Success Stories

400 topics, 6221 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 05:13PM

General Real Estate

General Real Estate

Buying & Selling Real Estate

6008 topics, 47320 posts — Last Post 04/25/14, 12:14AM

Renters

651 topics, 5873 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 03:20PM

Get Foreclosure Help - Help Stop Foreclosure Forum

317 topics, 2561 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 08:28PM

Home Owner Association (HOA) Issues & Problems Forum

238 topics, 1611 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 04:02AM

Do it Yourself

660 topics, 6334 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 08:31PM

Reviews & Feedback

Real Estate Deal Analysis and Advice

3718 topics, 29817 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:08PM

Real Estate Guru, Book & Course Reviews and Discussions

1140 topics, 11616 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 08:58PM

Ask About A Real Estate Company

743 topics, 7348 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 03:12PM

Real Estate Investing

Real Estate Strategies

Wholesaling

5647 topics, 44020 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 11:32PM

Rehabbing and House Flipping

3354 topics, 31122 posts — Last Post 04/25/14, 12:15AM

Real Estate Development & New Home Construction

554 topics, 4696 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:03PM

Innovative Strategies

705 topics, 6044 posts — Last Post 04/22/14, 04:06PM

Tax Liens, Notes, Paper, & Cash Flows Discussion

869 topics, 6706 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 08:29PM

Rent to Own a.k.a. Lease Purchase, Lease Options

700 topics, 4961 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 11:26AM

1031 Exchanges

143 topics, 1063 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 11:10AM

Foreclosure Investing

General Foreclosure & Pre-Foreclosure Forums

1693 topics, 11322 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:10PM

HUD, VA, and Tax Sales

416 topics, 3103 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 02:29PM

REOs

1217 topics, 10604 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 07:13AM

Short Sales

1539 topics, 13154 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 08:25PM

Landlord & Tenant Forums

Landlord & Rental Property Questions

7260 topics, 71292 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:48PM

Mobile Homes & Mobile Home Park Investing

639 topics, 5146 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 05:13AM

Investor Basics

Starting Out

7739 topics, 60737 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:18PM

Investor Psychology

434 topics, 6135 posts — Last Post 04/25/14, 12:29AM

General Real Estate Investing

4733 topics, 37341 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:51PM

Real Estate Investor Marketing

1740 topics, 14165 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 05:08PM

Commercial Real Estate

Commercial Real Estate Investing Forum

1414 topics, 9022 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 04:12PM

Multi-Family and Apartment Investing

1125 topics, 9422 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 11:32PM

The Business of Real Estate

Real Estate Technology and the Internet

Real Estate Technology, Social Media & Blogging

645 topics, 4913 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 12:21PM

Business Basics

Goals, Business Plans & Entities

836 topics, 7599 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 08:45PM

Real Estate Finance & Legal

Financial, Tax, and Legal

Tax, Legal Issues, Contracts, Self-Directed IRA

2806 topics, 20152 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 08:36PM

Property Insurance

312 topics, 2059 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:22AM

Personal Finance Discussion

330 topics, 2754 posts — Last Post 04/22/14, 12:06PM

Loans, Mortgages, Credit Lines

Private & Conventional Lending Discussion

2854 topics, 19852 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:30PM

Creative Real Estate Financing

1222 topics, 8875 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:28PM

Crowdfunding Real Estate

35 topics, 463 posts — Last Post 04/19/14, 06:24PM

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate Professionals

Real Estate Agents

1219 topics, 8057 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:08PM

Bankers, Lenders, and Mortgage Brokers

442 topics, 1931 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 09:04PM

Contractors

268 topics, 1689 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 05:05PM

Local Real Estate

Local Real Estate

Local Real Estate Networking & Recommendations

2023 topics, 11777 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:52PM

Americans & International Real Estate

162 topics, 572 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 03:31AM

Foreigners Buying in the USA

62 topics, 409 posts — Last Post 04/10/14, 06:27AM

Canadian Real Estate

66 topics, 442 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:50PM

Marketplace

Real Estate Marketplace

Real Estate Marketplace

15103 topics, 54177 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 11:00PM

Real Estate Events and Happenings

169 topics, 2630 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 10:58PM

Off-Topic

Off Topic

Off-Topic

2909 topics, 32451 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 07:22PM

Housing News & Real Estate Market

923 topics, 8398 posts — Last Post 04/24/14, 09:05PM

BiggerPockets Real Estate Investing Summit

97 topics, 1752 posts — Last Post 04/23/14, 04:51AM

BiggerPockets Resources

Forums » Wholesaling » How do you contact absentee home owners?

How do you contact absentee home owners?

21 posts by 13 users

Signup

Real Estate Investor


I've been driving for dollars and finding vacant properties. Thats the good part, the bad part is nobody except the whacadoo's leaving me angry voicemails MF'in me telling me they are not selling are contacting me. The letter I send is simple, to the point, friendly and professional. Had several people review my letter and nobody sees any problems with it.

So why am I not getting any phone calls from ANYONE wanting to sell their vacant homes? I send the letters in a bright pink envelope and hand write the address, so I know they have to see it and will most likely open it. Should I not even bother with the letters and just cold call the absentee homeowner?

I know its a numbers game but I've sent out over 200 letters and only get the angry homeowner who doesn't want to sell and calls me names and swears at me.

What am I doing wrong?



Real Estate Investor · New Jersey


I wouldn't say you're doing anything wrong. You said it already, it's a numbers game plain and simple. You need hundreds of phone calls a month if not more than that to succeed. Hundreds more letters! You gotta think bigger more volume. Try marketing to diff. People?
Inheritance, fsbo, preforeclosures, bandit signs... Keep trying it'll pay off. Good luck!



SFR Investor · Houston, Texas


At least your list will be more narrowed. Are you telling them the negative benefits of having an empty house in your letter? Basically convince them that their house is a problem or potential problem and you have the solution.



Real Estate Investor


I think you may be targeting the wrong communities with your letters. If all you're getting is angry responses, you may be targeting a deeply entrenched community that has been approached with this kind of offer on multiple occasions by less than scrupulous buyers. Many communities, particularly ethnic communities, are resentful of new buyers coming into their communities, buying up homes and uprooting the residents who have lived there to gentrify the area. If all 200 of your letters were concentrated in one area, I would try expanding the area and moving.

People can be very skeptical of offers to buy their house because of the nefarious buyers that they've dealt with or heard about from friends and family. Keep trying, but think about moving to a different area.



Real Estate Investor · Bakersfield, California


good morning Keith

I have a friend I work out with. He pisses me off every time it chest day. He always makes me go first, so I lay down on the bench place my hands in the most appropriate spot to push the most weight I can and I can barely push 285.

He lays down and pushes 495 with ease. Just pisses me off. As I begin to complain about my lack of ability compared to his he wisely tells me to shut up. And continues with little facts like he owns the gym, that he is a gym rat, that he was a professional athlete, and finally says I remember when you referring to me had a hard time pushing 135.

So I guess marketing is a lot like exercise.


Small_new_logo_bgMichael Q., Yellow Letters
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (888) 968-7624
Website: http://www.YellowLetters.com
Yellow Letters - Zip Letters - Post Cards - Lists - Door Hangers - Business Cards - www.ZipInk.com


Real Estate Investor · Garland, Texas


@Michael Q.

Great analogy. And it goes for a lot more than marketing.


Jon Klaus, SellPropertyFast
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 214-929-6545
Website: http://www.facebook.com/Buttermilks


Real Estate Investor


Originally posted by Nathan Paisley:
Try marketing to diff. People?
Inheritance, fsbo, preforeclosures, bandit signs... Keep trying it'll pay off. Good luck!

I am marketing to home owners of all but preforeclosures. Haven't been able to find a reliable preforclosure list to market to. Any suggestions?



Real Estate Investor


Originally posted by Mike Andrews:
I think you may be targeting the wrong communities with your letters. If all you're getting is angry responses, you may be targeting a deeply entrenched community that has been approached with this kind of offer on multiple occasions by less than scrupulous buyers.

I'm marketing to middle class neighborhoods, houses I know have been vacant for some time. These not "deeply entrenched communities" they are nice middle to upper middle income neighborhoods, not low income ethnic communities as you suggested. And as I said my letters are friendly and professional asking if they are interested in selling.



Real Estate Investor


[b

Originally posted by Michael Quarles:
good morning Keith

I have a friend I work out with. He pisses me off every time it chest day. He always makes me go first, so I lay down on the bench place my hands in the most appropriate spot to push the most weight I can and I can barely push 285.

He lays down and pushes 495 with ease. Just pisses me off. As I begin to complain about my lack of ability compared to his he wisely tells me to shut up. And continues with little facts like he owns the gym, that he is a gym rat, that he was a professional athlete, and finally says I remember when you referring to me had a hard time pushing 135.

So I guess marketing is a lot like exercise.

Michael, afternoon my friend. Although I appreciate a good analogy as much as the next guy it really doesn't address my issue.

Obviously my professional letter isn't working for me. So what does work? A hand written note send in an invitation envelope written on yellow line paper with red ink? Or cold calling the home owner if you can find their phone number? or maybe post cards?

I understand its a numbers game but as I said I am trying to market to those properties I KNOW are vacant and have been for some time. I'm NOT mass marketing as I don't have the money for that kind of campain right now.

What I'm looking for is what is the most effective way to contact specific absentee home owners of homes i know are vacant.

Any ideas?



Real Estate Investor · Bakersfield, California


Keith,

IMHO you don't yet know if your letter isn't working. And I would state that it appears to be working somewhat. Those calls that are angry callers are actually your prospects. Real estate marketing is much like relationship building it takes time.

Just because they say they're not selling doesn't mean they won't in the future

And you now have information about them that most don't. So followup.

A lot of investors don't understand the amount of money required in marketing to buy housing.. its not cheap nor easy.


Small_new_logo_bgMichael Q., Yellow Letters
E-Mail: [email protected]
Telephone: (888) 968-7624
Website: http://www.YellowLetters.com
Yellow Letters - Zip Letters - Post Cards - Lists - Door Hangers - Business Cards - www.ZipInk.com


Real Estate Investor · Florida


Targeting preforclosures is a lot harder now then say 2004-2008 as most homeowners have given up and left. They see they owe twice as much as the property is worth and they feel there is nothing they can do because the bank won’t listen. Understanding this may help you understand why you’re not getting any calls. Some of these “vacant homes” are actually already owned by the back and a field service company has it locked up. Depending on the bank some of these houses have been in this status for months and even years before the bank decides to sell it through an REO broker or auction company.

What is your end game in targeting foreclosures. Are you offering help?, Short Sale? Selling the house? Buying notes? Are you flipping, wholesaling? etc I ask as there are other properties you can target to make money. Currently, I personally prefer targeting vacant homes which are not in foreclosure. There are other reasons, such as tenant problems/evictions, probates/trust, divorce, job transfers etc. These, in my opinion, are easier to get calls back and/or deals.

When I see a vacant property with no for sale sign, I check to see if it has a lock box on the door or any field service stickers. If it does, I check property records to see if the bank owns it yet, if the bank does then I will call certain REO brokers I know who get listings from that bank and let them know about the property. The broker will then expedite the property to get released for sale and the broker will give me first crack before the he list it on the MLS. He does this as I do not use a realtor and he can keep the whole commission.

Tip for driving for dollars: When you see a property – “Get out of the car and investigate”, look for note, letters signs, stickers by front door which can help give you owners names and why house is vacant, also the neighbors will be out and talking to them will give you even more background on the property.

Whatever you do, make sure you keep doing it and keep going forward each week until you get the deal done, don't give up!
Big E



SFR Investor · Wheat Ridge, Colorado


Two hundred letters is nothing. If you send 2,000 with no good responses, then you should try something different.

You'll have to keep banging on them. One letter does little. Six letters over six months will produce more results.

How many angry calls have you had? 100? 10? 5? Just take them off your list and keep mailing to the rest.


Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC


Real Estate Investor


Originally posted by Jon Holdman:
Two hundred letters is nothing. If you send 2,000 with no good responses, then you should try something different.

You'll have to keep banging on them. One letter does little. Six letters over six months will produce more results.

How many angry calls have you had? 100? 10? 5? Just take them off your list and keep mailing to the rest.

Jon, I do understand what your saying is true, I am 2 and in some cases 3 letters in on some of the properties I have identified.

I do have some questions though.

Do you send the same letter each time? Using the same pink envelope?
If you have the homeowners phone number do you ever just call them and ask if they want to sell?
What type of contact method works best for you?
Do you use a service to skip trace absentee home owners?
If so, who do you use and how much per skip trace?

Any help is appreciated.



Real Estate Investor


Originally posted by Erick Gause:
Targeting preforclosures is a lot harder now then say 2004-2008 as most homeowners have given up and left. They see they owe twice as much as the property is worth and they feel there is nothing they can do because the bank won’t listen. Understanding this may help you understand why you’re not getting any calls. Some of these “vacant homes” are actually already owned by the back and a field service company has it locked up. Depending on the bank some of these houses have been in this status for months and even years before the bank decides to sell it through an REO broker or auction company.

What is your end game in targeting foreclosures. Are you offering help?, Short Sale? Selling the house? Buying notes? Are you flipping, wholesaling? etc I ask as there are other properties you can target to make money. Currently, I personally prefer targeting vacant homes which are not in foreclosure. There are other reasons, such as tenant problems/evictions, probates/trust, divorce, job transfers etc. These, in my opinion, are easier to get calls back and/or deals.

When I see a vacant property with no for sale sign, I check to see if it has a lock box on the door or any field service stickers. If it does, I check property records to see if the bank owns it yet, if the bank does then I will call certain REO brokers I know who get listings from that bank and let them know about the property. The broker will then expedite the property to get released for sale and the broker will give me first crack before the he list it on the MLS. He does this as I do not use a realtor and he can keep the whole commission.

Tip for driving for dollars: When you see a property – “Get out of the car and investigate”, look for note, letters signs, stickers by front door which can help give you owners names and why house is vacant, also the neighbors will be out and talking to them will give you even more background on the property.

Whatever you do, make sure you keep doing it and keep going forward each week until you get the deal done, don't give up!
Big E

Erick, at this time I am strickly wholesaling. The properties I'm identifying are NOT preforclosures, or foreclosures. They are vacant homes owned outright by the listed homeowner, that have all taxes paid, and are completely paid off with no liens.

I do get out of the car and inspect the property each time I see a house I think is vacant. I do talk to the neighbors to get as much info as possible. I inspect tax, deed and mortgage records for each property. I run a skip trace on the listed homeowners and their immediate family, sending letters to each of them to increase my chances of success in reaching the homeowners. Before I even send the home owner the first letter I know as much about the property as I can as well as the status of the homeowner IE: divorced, deceased, out of town owner, what other properties they own and where, how long the property has been vacant, current address and phone number, ARV, home specs, property specs, tax staus, etc.

These are not MLS, REO or FSBO homes. They are just vacant homes fully paid off that have been abandoned for some reason. In most cases nice homes in good middle and upper middle class neighborhoods.

I know the properties, my market, and as much as I can about the situation of each homeowner as I can. Just can't seem to get any of them to contact me for some reason.

What method do you use to contact absentee homeowners? And how effective is it?



Real Estate Investor · Florida


Keith,

Looks like you are almost there and definitely on the right track. Using skip trace software gets expensive. Letters will work if done consistently, however my best results do come from direct contact of the homeowner. You can use free sites like zabbasearch or Spokeo to help, however I like door knocking on neighbors, because usually one of them “watches” the house for the homeowner and has their direct number. You can check out you tube, just type my name and you will find videos on how to find and contact owners of vacant homes- all information is free.

For direct calls: The simple conversation starter goes something like this- I am a local investor who buys homes in your area and I have seen your property. I like to fix up and resell homes and I wanted to offer you and all cash offer, I will even pay all the closing cost if we can come to an agreement on price. How much cash do you need? Wait for a response. Even if they say no, you can ask if you can send them your business card just in case. I have gotten several deals over the years from people calling me from my business card refrigerator magnet that I sent years earlier and now the owner or relatives are calling me.

Jon has a really good point and is correct you do have to send tons of letters and the key is to be consistent. You want to keep sending every 2 weeks or once a month until the homeowner calls to ask you to stop or calls to sell.

Most homeowners get lots of these “letters’. I know as an owner of multiple properties I still get 20 a week to my p.o. box.

What initially helped me was I would put on my envelope and on my letter “$20 cash for your letters”. I offered the homeowner $20 for all their “letters”. When I started talking with these homeowners I was surprised to hear how many letters they do get. Surprising some homeowners kept there letters in a shoe box “for a rainy day”. By getting these letters I accomplished several things:
1. I built report with the homeowner because I was offering quick cash for letters (came at them from a different angle)
2. I was removing all of my competition from the homeowner.
3. I was able to see hundreds of letters and it helped me make a better letter
4. The best part: I was then able to find the names of all the cash buyers & wholesalers in my area and I was able to add them to my buyer list.
Big E



Real Estate Investor · New Jersey


Check out usleadlist.com they are very friendly and should be able to help you. I use them.



Real Estate Investor · New York


Sometimes I send out 400 letters and get 40 responses, sometimes I send out 200 and get one response. Just the way it goes I suppose. I have only had a few angry callers in the past few years. I market mostly to out of town owners in low income areas.



Real Estate Investor · Taylorsville, Utah


Keith
You have received some good answers. My response is keep sending out your letter but only to half, send out a new letter to the other half.

Now for the angry calls, I love them, an owner is making contact with me. First I let them rant a bit and when they hesitate, I say I want to thank your for calling me and letting me know your not interested in selling, I'll be happy to take you off my mailing list, will you give me your address please (sometimes they give their real address and not the property, and the phone number is on my caller id or I won't answer). I then ask are you really the owner because sometimes I get calls from people who are not the owner that their own motivates for me not contacting the real owner.

I then ask if I remember right the property is vacant so you don't live there is that right? Answer yes. Then me I'm really curious, will you humor me, why do you want an investment that isn't giving you any return on it?

No matter what I then send a thank you card, try it.



Wholesaler · Chicago, Illinois


You’ve answered your own question Keith. It’s a numbers game. You might send out 1000 letters and still not come across a motivated seller. You just have to keep going. You will find that 1 seller that is extremely motivated where you can make $5k+ off that deal.

It will all even out in the long term. If you don’t get any motivated sellers off your first 3 rounds of letters, you may get 4 motivated sellers in your next round.

The only way that you can lose at this game is if you stop and give up. It’s really that simple.



Real Estate Investor · Fayetteville, NC


You have to take the emotion out of it. In sales their are hundreds off no's before yes, don't stop short of the pot of gold. Keep plugging and write down your progress and track what type of response from the areas you send to. You can also find someone to talk to these sellers for you and help you out. Persistence wins everytime, sometimes when I have to deal with to many no's at once I take a break and do something fun for 30 minutes to an hour and get back to it with more ethusiam than I started with. Most investors believe they have to learn all these different techniques to be successful in real estate but I think what seperate the ones who are doing and not doing is their mind set.





Sign up