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How To Get Any Homeowner On The Phone For $10

by Mike Nelson on January 8, 2014 · 53 comments

Get Any Homeowner On The Phone

It’s a dirty little secret in the wholesale biz that sometimes homeowners are hard to get in touch with. So many times you see a property you want to purchase, and even if by some stroke of luck you find out who the homeowner is, getting them to pick up the phone or return a letter can be next to impossible.

For $10, there’s a way you can get virtually anyone to pick up that phone. You come across looking a little bit like the guy from all the Saw movies, but trust – this is a move that will definitely get a homeowner’s attention and having you securing your sale. Here’s how to do it:

Hit the Thrift Shop

It seems like everyone on the planet has a high-tech smartphone of some kind, right? That’s a good thing – now, thanks to the popularity of the iPhone, you can find a simple flip phone in your local thrift store for as little as $5. Snatch a few of these up the next time you see them – if your thrift store has half-off sales, that would be a perfect time to buy. Next, activate these phones with pay-as-you-go plans. With a pre-paid minutes card you can get at any grocery store, load up your phone with some minutes and charge the battery.

Think Inside the Box

Go to your post office and get a small, flat-rate envelope or box. These retail for a fixed price (hence the term “flat-rate”) and usually won’t run you any more than $5 for a small sized envelope.

When you mail your phone, be sure to get something called the tracking number. The tracking number prints on your receipt and tells you where your package is and whether it’s been delivered. You can enter the tracking number in your computer through the post office’s web site and see if your package is out for delivery and where it’s at on the postal worker’s route.

This might seem a little creepy, but hang in there: Mail your phone with a note that tells the homeowner to expect a call from you. Give them a specific date and time, about 2-3 days from when you mail your package so you can be sure the seller has it. Wrap up the phone and put it in the mail.

Stalk the Post Office

The great thing about mailing through your post office is that you can ask for something called signature confirmation. This lets you know that your package has arrived and it’s physically in that person’s hands. Check online through your local post office’s website to see if your phone has reached the homeowner and whether he or she has signed for it. Between signature confirmation and the tracking number, you’ll know exactly where the phone is at all times.

Go in for the Kill

When you’re sure the homeowner has the package in his possession, call the phone and let the person know that you’re interested in buying his property. The homeowner can chat with you about his property at no cost to him, and it lets him know without a doubt that you are very interested in buying his property. Suddenly the hardest thing to do in the real estate business has just become your specialty.

Is this method a little bit creepy? Maybe. Will it take your homeowner off guard? Maybe. Is it guaranteed to get his attention, and almost certainly a sale? Definitely. Get to your local thrift shop, box that phone up at the post office, and stand by – you’re about to get in touch with a whole lot of people.
Photo Credit: Nanagyei

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{ 53 comments… read them below or add one }

Jason Merchey January 8, 2014 at 7:24 am

That is about the most inventive thing I have ever heard.


Mike Nelson January 8, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thanks Jason.


Brian January 8, 2014 at 7:50 am

I am curious. Have you ever closed a deal after having initially approached a seller this way?


Mike Nelson January 8, 2014 at 7:26 pm

Brian – please be assured that anything that I suggest or write about is only things that I’ve accomplished or had success with myself. I’ve sent out over 30 phones this year to homeowners that I’ve had a hard time contacting. These are homeowners that I know live in the address that’s listed or I’ve done extensive skip tracing on. Of those 30 we’ve closed on 10 of those properties.


Brian January 10, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Very Nice…I’ll have to give it a whirl.


Jenna Stonecipher January 8, 2014 at 8:21 am

I agree with Jason. This is genius.


Mike Nelson January 8, 2014 at 8:50 am

Thank you, Jenna. :)


Tom January 8, 2014 at 8:26 am

What a great idea! I had no idea that you could use old phones in this way.
Thanks for the post!


Mike Nelson January 16, 2014 at 3:06 am

Thanks Tom. Glad you like it.


Dennis Lanni January 8, 2014 at 8:47 am

Good stuff. I’ve had a taxi drive & knock an owner’s door with me on the
phone but this is cheaper.


Mike Nelson January 8, 2014 at 8:52 am

Wow, that must have been a really special deal, huh? Thanks Dennis.


Justin January 8, 2014 at 10:11 am

Great idea!


Bill January 8, 2014 at 10:14 am

Of course, this will work only if the homeowner still leaves at the home or is still picking up their mail. Many hard to reach people are long gone, I have even had mail returned to me from an address that no longer had a mailbox! Go figure! I like the creativity, though!


Mike Nelson January 16, 2014 at 3:03 am

Bill, I usually do a ton of skip tracing before using this tactic.


Matt January 8, 2014 at 10:24 am

I would be terrified if someone sent me a phone in the mail with instructions!


Matt DeVincenzo January 8, 2014 at 10:31 am

Wow talk about creative marketing techniques!! This is awesome, way to think outside the “box”.


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm



Paul Francis January 8, 2014 at 10:53 am

15 years in Real Estate and I’ve never seen this suggestion for tracking down that hard to get homeowner. Not sure if it would work too well in Las Vegas but certainly interesting.


Galya January 8, 2014 at 11:26 am

I can tell you what is the problem with this. if you use USPS, their delivery drivers will upload the tracking info when they come back to the main office. So at 5pm you get the tracking that your package was delivered at 8am. Do you know what could’ve happened to this phone during 9 hours? 1. all minutes could’ve been used, 2. the phone could’ve been sold, tossed away, regifted. 3. Listed on craigslist and pick uped already.

It’s better to use the taxi, at least you can call right away when the phone is for sure in that owner’s hands.


Galya January 8, 2014 at 11:32 am

BTW,you do not need to check USPS website million times, you can subscribe to e-mail updates on their site once the first tracking been uploaded.


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Thanks for the tip.


Gerald Harris January 8, 2014 at 12:11 pm

This is 1 of the most creative things i have heard of. Great stuff!


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Thank you, Gerald!


Galya January 8, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I can see a solution though. Find out the full zip code to the property (with the additional 4 numbers), you can do it on the USPS site. Then on the same site find the closest post office that services that zip code. Call that post office and ask them when they deliver mail to the zip code you found, they should give you a 2 hour window or so. Once you see in your tracking updates that your package is out for delivery, it means it’s going to be delivered that day, start calling at the time when the mail should be delivered. Just make sure the battery in your old phone would hold before you put it in a box. This way you’re only going to call for 2 hours and then you’ll figure out that your package was not delivered on that day ( they may get behind on thier mail schedule too, so keep this in mind).
Or, if you really have nothing to do, you can just wait in your car outside the house starting at the time they usually deliver mail. You can also ask when you call, what is going to happen if the owner not home, are thye going to attemp and deliver next day (so you can repeat the process) or they will wait to the owner to show up at the post office and pick it up. In the last case you’ll get your tracking when the owner came to pick up the phone, without delays.


Martin Cortez January 8, 2014 at 1:05 pm

VERY innovative idea. What makes it work is the unexpected twist. I have a way to find owners of vacant houses using the same concept of shock and awe, but be forewarned, it is not for the faint of heart!

In a nutshell, you place a “For Sale” sign in the yard of the vacant house with your phone number on it. But before you do, put a small question mark (?) after the word “Sale”. That way, when the irate owner calls you about the sign, you simply say: “Oh, I’m sorry… I didn’t put the sign in your yard to sell your house, I was merely asking if your house was …wait for it… For Sale? Didn’t you see the question mark on the sign?”

Works like a charm if you don’t mind a few colorful words flying your way. See my full post here:


Jacob January 8, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Martin, you’ve got balls to do this one. I like it!


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:42 pm

That’s an awesome idea, Martin. Haven’t tried that but I just might have to. Thanks for sharing!


Alison January 8, 2014 at 1:58 pm

I second Brian’s question, have you ever closed a deal that started this way? Just wondering.

a slight twist on this would be to use the thrift-shop phones to call the seller from different phone numbers so they don’t avoid picking up when they see your number. In fact that’s what I thought you were going to suggest when I started reading the article.


Galya January 8, 2014 at 3:31 pm

Or dial *67 and your number will show as “private.” or on iPhone you can download an app to hide your number.

The thing is, how do you know their number to even dial them? If the property was sold 50 years ago last time, the number even if was recorded in the city records, probably got changed.


Frank Anthony Davis January 8, 2014 at 2:07 pm

Very creative. You could even store a custom contact name for yourself and write it down on the note. That way it’s not just random numbers on a screen they have never seen before.


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:36 pm

Thanks. Glad you like it, Frank. And thanks for the input.


Jason Munck January 8, 2014 at 6:55 pm

I agree with the other comments. I’d like to know the success rate of this strategy.


Jeff Brown January 8, 2014 at 7:21 pm

44 years and I’m still able to say I’ve not come close to seein’ it all. :)


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:34 pm

Gotta get creative to sustain, Jeff.


Jaz Cook January 8, 2014 at 8:02 pm

This would definitely get someone’s attention. I imagine you could also have your own number programmed into the phone as the only number on the contact list and then give them the option of simply calling you rather than waiting for your call.


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:29 pm

Exactly Jaz. :)


Kevin Sapp January 8, 2014 at 9:16 pm

Very creative indeed. Curious, most cell phones are deactivated, numbers transferred, etc. How do you activate the phone and which wireless carrier do you find to be the best for this innovative technique?


Mike Nelson January 16, 2014 at 3:05 am

I use verizon.


Robert Adams January 9, 2014 at 7:20 am

Wow what a great way to think outside the box! I haven’t seen this done in my area at all so i would assume most homeowners have never seen this method. I love reading new ideas like this.

Thanks for posting.


Joseph January 9, 2014 at 2:28 pm

I think this was thinking “inside the box” if you’ll forgive my sense of humor!


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:28 pm

Agreed! Lol…


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:27 pm

That’s right, Robert. Do it on some of those leads you’ve been really wanting to get a hold of, while not everybody is doing it yet. :)


Juanita January 9, 2014 at 11:42 am

Great idea…RVA huh? I’m in Richmond also.
What areas are you making deals with your phone


Mike Nelson January 16, 2014 at 3:04 am

I don’t do much in Richmond except purchase rentals so if you have any deals send them my way. :)


Jeromie January 9, 2014 at 12:18 pm

I LOVE this idea. I’m going to have to brainstorm other areas this would be effective…

I also think it would be great to put your contact info in before mailing – that way they can answer a phone call from ‘Fate’, ‘Destiny’, ‘Your Future’, etc.


Brandon Turner January 9, 2014 at 12:25 pm

Hahaha I love that idea, Jeromie!


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:24 pm

Lol…you’ll end up getting a date not a deal.


Roy Schauer January 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm

I like it! I’ll at it to the prepaid Visa card with company logo and peanuts in the envelope pile for contacting owners. Thanks for sharing!


Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:23 pm

Glad you like it, Roy. You should give it try.


Sharon Vornholt January 11, 2014 at 10:32 am

And I thought I had heard of everything Mike.



Mike Nelson January 13, 2014 at 7:11 pm



Alanya Boyer January 29, 2014 at 9:11 pm

I have to say, this is quite clever! I hope you include a note that says “This device will self destruct once we’ve reached a deal”


Mike Nelson February 5, 2014 at 9:07 am

Hahaha…that’d be cool, Alanya! But they might just think I’m a real lunatic if I do that, lol.


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