Real Estate Marketing

Probate Marketing 101: How To Dominate In One Of The Best Niches In Real Estate

Expertise: Personal Development, Business Management, Real Estate Marketing, Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice, Real Estate Investing Basics
70 Articles Written
Probate

Probates are one of the undisputed best niches to focus on when it comes to real estate investing, there is no question.

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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:

Probate letter example

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?

Related: The Ultimate Guide to Using Direct Mail Advertising to Grow Your Real Estate Business

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?

Related: Probate Investing: The Basics and Tips for Success

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.

In Conclusion

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.

Chris is an active real estate investor who buys and flips houses in the Dallas real estate market. He enjoys helping others along on their journey. I...
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    Shawn Holsaple
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Chris, Can you post a link to your letter that you have in the blog so I can read it? The one above is blurry. Thank you in advance!
    Steve Smith
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi Chris, I loved this article. I’m about to send my letters out in the San Antonio area to both my Probate list and Affidavit of Heirships. I have two white letters that I’ve written for each. I see that people asked you to send a copy of yours to them, and I’d love to compare yours to mine if you’re willing to share them. I would greatly appreciate your response when you get a second. Thank You,
    Dennis Lanni
    Replied over 6 years ago
    heirship affidavit? I’m moving to Texas, no probate needed! Who is insuring the title on those deals? Seems to good to be true.
    Chris Feltus Residential Real Estate Agent from Fort Worth , Texas
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I have never encountered a title company that would refuse a title commitment because of heirship affidavits. As I said in the original post, as long as you have all interested parties on board, signed off on the promulgated forms and any necessary addendum, you are good to go.
    Jim
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I use the standard yellow letter on my probate campaigns. I do this for 2 reasons, number 1 as we all know the response rates are awesome! Number 2 as Chris mentioned in the post nothing is mentioned about anyone passing away. This eliminates the need to explain that I’m not a vulcher.
    Chris Feltus Residential Real Estate Agent from Fort Worth , Texas
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Yes white letter or yellow, its really up to your preference. But as we both agree on, its ok to omit certain details. Thanks for stopping by Jim
    Jim
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I use the standard yellow letter on my probate campaigns. I do this for 2 reasons, number 1 as we all know the response rates are awesome! Number 2 as Chris mentioned in the post nothing is mentioned about anyone passing away. This eliminates the need to explain that I’m not a vulcher.
    Mohammad Asaduddin
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Great information Chris. Can I have a copy of the white letter and a post card? Asad. My email [email protected]. How productive is the probate as compared to tax delinquencies?
    Ryan Hobbs
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Do you give them an offer in your letter, or is that an example? Thank You
    Chris Feltus Residential Real Estate Agent from Fort Worth , Texas
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Hey Ryan, the white letter is different from the letter of intent I use if I am considering purchasing a property.
    Andrew
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Great post on the basics of probates. Can I ask where you find your probate leads? I am in the DFW area and am just starting to research probates. I’ve seen a few services that will send you monthly leads for a fee, otherwise I can’t find any info. Haven’t yet gone down to the courthouse myself… Reply Report comment
    Andrew
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Great post on the basics of probates. Can I ask where you find your probate leads? I am in the DFW area and am just starting to research probates. I’ve seen a few services that will send you monthly leads for a fee, otherwise I can’t find any info. Haven’t yet gone down to the courthouse myself…
    Chris Feltus
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Hey Andrew, I use foreclosure listing service http://www.flsonline.com/
    Jeremy
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Where and how do you pull data for recent probates?
    Romao
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Hello , I would like to get a copy of your Probate Letter and also should I be Incorporated
    Suzanne Bindi
    Replied over 4 years ago
    I’d love a copy of your white letter too! Thank you!
    Dan Dwyer from Raynham, Massachusetts
    Replied over 4 years ago
    Hello my name is Dan Dwyer. I have been slowly building a true skill set over a lomg span of physically collectting/inspecting various types of courthouse & govt. cases to generate my own specificslly targeted, verifiable & to some extent prequalified leads. Sitting in courthouses & govt agencies getting access to potential leads in real time before almost anyone knows they exist. I loved your entire post and I’m pretty sure I’m in love with the way you think. However theres more than one way to skin a cat. I think your mailing strategy is strong for a mailing strategy. But let’s face it. It is a mailing piece… (Diclaimer I do belive in properly constructed mailing pieces that are used properly) My new strategy has yet to be tested. So At this point I can’t outright claim to all you good folks there’s a better way yet. Once I have some and responses to begin to gauge it’s potential I promise I’ll come back to this original thread… Hey @Chris Feltsus send me a colleague request if you’re interested…
    Franco Perez from Houston, Texas
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Dan, I wanted to respond to your post from some time ago. I also agree that just trying to mail out some letters is not as impactful as they once were. Are you still working these types of leads and do you have any new strategies you can recommend on this thread. Thank you!
    David Blide
    Replied about 4 years ago
    I can’t read the letter in the image. Is there a template or document that shows this?
    John
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Could I get a readable copy of the letter PLEASE
    John
    Replied almost 4 years ago
    Could I get a readable copy of the letter PLEASE Reply Report comment
    Atif Usman Wholesaler from Piscataway, New Jersey
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Hello, Thanks for the article, can you please send me a copy of your letter and postcard? My email is: [email protected]. Thanks Atif
    Sharyn Umaña-Angers from San Diego, California
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Hi Chris, I’d also like to get a copy of the letter if you still have one to send Having said that, what is your opinion of using probate attorneys to find leads? In other words, if probate attorneys know that you deal with probate real estate, then theoretically THEY will come to YOU if and when they have clients who need to unload a property. And that way, you wouldn’t feel (as Jim so eloquently put it earlier) like a vulture. I took a probate real estate course that taught us to go down to the courthouse and request the most recent probate files so that you get to them before they’re even published. But firstly, I feel that’s the most sensitive time emotionally for whomever the executor is and you’re more likely to be met with hostility… and second, this seems like a hugely inefficient ratio of time/energy spent vs. rewards reaped. What is your opinion on this, if I may ask? Thank you!
    Daniel Hernandez
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I would also like to get a copy of the letter.
    Franco Perez from Houston, Texas
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hi, Did anyone have a probate template for mailing out. I am only trying to focus on affidative of heirship leads. I do plan on staying generic from my message but I do not want the usual I will buy your house for cash approach. Any tips and feedback will help, as I plan to type the mailing piece content in my own words.
    Ritchie Numa Real Estate Agent from New York City, New York
    Replied about 3 years ago
    Hello, I would love to get a copy of the letter as well.
    Dawn Cordle
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I would live a copy of the letter.
    Marty Kelly
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I would appreciate getting a copy of the letters as well. Thanks Marty
    Sulaiman Shah Real Estate Investor from Staten Island, New York
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Maybe I missed it but where do you the list and names for the probates.
    Tracie Y. Real Estate Investor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Is a copy of the letter available? Thanks!
    Mike Snyder from Seminole, Florida
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Hey Chris, your post got me wanting to do a probate mailer for my next campaign! Not sure if this is still tracked but if so, I’d really like to see how your letter stands out (no image coming up in the post now)? If you are not posting it anymore, can you PM me? I’m very interested in how you format yours. Thanks!
    Ken Dunn
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Hi Chris! My partner and I are expanding our business and adding probate. The copy of your letter is no longer shown on this post. Can you please send it? Thanks!
    Dan MacDonald Residential Real Estate Agent from Arlington, VA
    Replied over 1 year ago
    Hi Chris! I would also love a copy or your letter. Can you please share? Thank you!
    Pam Moore
    Replied 6 months ago
    Can you please repost a link to your example white letter you have in the blog so I can read it? I cannot see the letter at all. Thank you in advance!