Probates are one of the undisputed best niches to focus on when it comes to real estate investing, there is no question.
However, I commonly see questions on how exactly one should specifically market to this group?
There seems to be a lot of confusion and because of that I would like to share some actionable techniques and strategies that have worked for me and my business.
The White Letter:
When marketing to probates I feel it is critical to put your best foot forward with a white letter. This will help you look professional and that’s so important when someone is working through a big decisions such as settling an estate.
Here is an example of the professional white letter I use in my business to contact probate properties:
Who Do I Mail To People In Probate?
There are two common practices when it comes to mailing probates.
You can either choose to mail directly to the vacant estate itself, or you can mail directly to the executor. There are advantageous and disadvantageous to both, personally I use both methods simultaneously.
Mailing Directly to the Executor and the Vacant Property:
The benefit of mailing directly to the executor is the letter will end up in the decision makers hands (assuming they read it).
If you were to come to some sort of agreement on the property, this is the individual that would ultimately execute the contract. When it comes to probates the executor is essentially the judge, jury and executioner.The executor is the only one that needs to sign off to sell the home with or without others consent of others.
One of the disadvantageous to mailing directly to the executors is this will obviously be a very emotional time for them. Make sure you send a professional sounding white letter when you mail directly to the executor.
One way to get around any potential angry phone calls is to have a generic statement about the property without mentioning anything about their loved one passing away.
For example just mention something generic such as “county tax records indicate you own a property on 123 Green Street” instead of a generic “sorry for your loss”. However you approach this its ultimately up to you.
Personally, I mail to both the executor and the vacant property itself.
Why you ask?
Often times the executor is very busy, or just not in a good place emotionally to make important financial decisions.
When you mail directly to the house often times other relatives or individuals that have an interest in the property will stop by and collect the mail.
They will open up your letter and will now keep you in mind when they are ready to sell, or forward your contact information to the executor directly.
I have had several occurrences where you the executor continued to let their mail pile up and one of the relatives collected the mail at the vacant house and forwarded my information to the executor.
How Often Should I Mail Probates?
I pull data every month for new probates in the areas that I am interested in (this could be at a county level, city or even zip codes it depends on your market strategy). The first mailing will always be a professional white letter.
After the first professional white letter has been sent, I then move them over to my postcard database. Here they will receive a follow-up postcard marketing piece an additional 4-5 times throughout the year.
The white letter allows you to your best foot forward so to speak, and then by following up with postcards you will continue to touch them multiple times through the year.
Remember you are working on the sellers timeline not your own, that is why touching them multiple times throughout the year is critical. The first time you contact them they might not be ready to sell; however, if you are persistent perhaps by the 3rd or 4th contact they will be.
You would be surprised how many real estate investors mail their contacts only one or two times. For optimal conversion you really need to “touch” your prospects 4 to 5 times.
In addition to that, make sure you incorporate recognizable branding that easily allows them to recognize your service. Good branding will help you remain consistent and be at the front of their mind when they are ready to sell.
To sum up essentially I have two databases. The new probates pulled for the month that will receive a professional white letter. Once they have received a white letter from me they are then transferred to my postcard database where they will receive additional marketing pieces from me 4 to 5 times through the year.
What If There Is No Will / No Executor?
If you run into a situation where there is no will and or executor, fear not you can still complete the transaction.
What you typically will have to do is fill out what’s called an heirship affidavit. Basically anyone that has an interest in the property will need to sign off on this document for the title company to convey clear title.
For example, if you have a group of brothers that want to sell their parents vacant house, you must make sure they are ALL are interested parties are in agreement to do so first.
Just be warned, sometimes closings with heirship affidavits can be a bit complex and time consuming, given all the additional moving parts in the transaction. Funny story, on the day of closing I once had one of the heirs thrown into jail, but that’s a story I will save for another time.
Like most things in real estate, the key is to be consistent and persistent with your marketing efforts.
Make sure to establish a budget that allows you to continually mail your prospects. With direct mail it is definitely a slow burn, and instant success should not be expected. I hope there were several actionable items in this post that you can use and implement in your own business.
Do you have any strategies that have worked for you in a probate marketing?
If so please let us know in the comments below.
Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.