One Weird Trick to Get the Very Best Absentee Owner Leads

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For many of us, inventory is starting to drop, and good deals are becoming harder to come by. But I am about to share with you one trick to help bring in some additional leads every month. These are not just any leads; these tend to be very motivated individuals who want to work with you and are alright selling their houses at a discount. The group is known as absentee owners – but that’s old news. Let me show you my unique spin on this group to get some golden leads.

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Reviewing Old Leads

Over the years I have carefully tracked every single lead that I have generated, every call, every appointment, every offer that I have ever made and every contract that I have closed on. With every entry, I keep detailed notes, and from time to time, I go back through and read them to discover new information that may help me or find new trends.

One week about a year ago, it was nearing the end of the year and I thought that would be a good time to reflect. Not only do I track all the information I detailed above, but I have a separate tab in Excel that separates by each lead type (probate, over 65, absentee owner, etc.), and I was reviewing the absentee owner list that particular day. It dawned on me that the absentee owners who were:

  1. Most motivated
  2. Most likely to sell at a discount
  3. Most likely to lead to a closed deal

Related: Getting Direct Mail Returned? Here’s How to Use It to Track Down Leads!

Were absentee owners that lived within a certain distance of the subject property. For those of you who may be new reading this, an absentee owner is simply someone who owns the property, but for whatever reason they are not living at that address. They could be living next door to the subject property or many states away.

Emerging Patterns

What I discovered is that the best absentee owner leads tend to live within the same state, but there was quite a bit of driving distance separating them from the subject property – usually about an hour and 30 minutes’ worth of driving. These leads were even better than absentee owners who lived out-of-state. I guess they’re close enough in their minds to the subject property (being in the same state), but far away enough that driving by car is a nuisance, in addition to other motivating factors that may be at play for them to keep up with the property.chris feltus

I am not sure exactly why these leads tend to be better than absentee owners who live out-of-state – but one theory I have is the out-of-state absentee owners tend to visit the subject property a bit more frequently, even though they are out-of-state. Why is that? Well, for one, they likely have family in the area and visit maybe once to a few times a year by plane. A plane is fairly convenient, especially when you are already there visiting family.

In comparison, when the absentee owner lives in the state, they are likely to already live around some family, but the subject property is off their radar because the drive time is so inconvenient, and it tends to go neglected, as they rarely visit the house. I noticed this when driving for dollars, too – many of the houses that needed the most TLC were homes that had absentee owners within state, but these owners had a bit of a drive to make it to the subject property. This theory seems to hold some weight, as when I went back through the notes, I would see information that confirmed this.

Related: How to Be the Real Estate Investor Motivated Sellers WANT to Contact

These leads were even better than absentee owners who lived in another state. To confirm this, I started to plug it into some mapping software to take a look at the radius. In fact, without realizing it, over 30% of my business came from this one group that year – and not only that, but these leads made me the most money.

Since then I have doubled down on this group and have really just now started reaping the benefits after some extended direct mail campaigns.

Have there been any leads that you have found helpful to market to in this tight market?

Leave your tips in the comments section!

About Author

Chris Feltus

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. In addition, Chris operates as a licensed Realtor in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.


  1. Randy Phillips on

    Very Interesting, I noticed similar results, some of my most motivated sellers lived within a 1-2 hour drive. They actually told me how much of a hassle it was to drive and take care of the property and deal with the tenants etc.
    I’m going to target this group more aggressively now.
    Thanks for the info.

  2. Jonathan Roylance

    Aside from the click-bait title (perhaps, I hope, an intentional joke), I really liked the article. This is very good data to know. I really like how you went back and combed through the data to find the patterns. I’m a data guy, so I appreciate that you’ve keep such good records, so that you could find this trend. Love it.

  3. Rick Grubbs

    I second your idea of always keeping track of every contact you make. Data storage is free and if you are organized it takes very little effort to create a system that tracks it for you. I use OneNote as it is easiest for me.

  4. Darrin Wesenberg

    Great post. Chris I am intrigued by your “detailed notes” that you’ve kept for every lead. That’s impressive. Would you mind sharing your spreadsheet template for those of us like me where keeping the detailed notes seem to be a weakness?

  5. Lisa DuFaux

    Thanks, Chris! I am so glad to know that I’m not the only one who likes to track this kind of thing. I have wondered if I’m being overly analytical or wasting time. Also, I have found the same thing but I have a slightly different explanation based on where I live. We so often hear about marketing to out of state owners but in Florida it seems the majority of out of state owners are what we call “snow birds.” They own property here and have no intention of selling it because they come down to stay for the winter. That’s why I find in-state absentee owners are much better prospects. They are the “accidental landlords” or heirs who don’t want to deal with a property.

    • This is an interesting tips and great ideas! I am Realtor in Santa Barbara CA, we have a lot of people owns several houses in close distance – I have to check it out for more business!

  6. Lin-Chuan Lee

    My guess is that out of state landlords have already planned to be absent landlords and thus are not looking to sell. In addition, those willing to sell probably have been contacted endlessly by people using crude out of state lists.
    Landlords in the 25-50 mile range probably underestimated the hassle and do not have management.

  7. Ruben Marron

    Great info., my last two listings were from absentee owners out of state. I’ve thought of mailing to in-state absentee owners that were a few hours away and after reading this article I’ll be implementing a new campaign to do just that.

  8. Andrew Herrig

    Is there a service that can give you in-state but outside a certain radius leads? I have asked Listsource before and they don’t do it. I could use county records, but I’d like to get a list with equity, which requires an algorithm of some sort.

  9. Linda Clark

    Hi Chris. I have been blown away by all of your blogs that I have been reading (literally) all day today. I live in Hurst and am very much interested in the Tarrant County list that you spoke of, but either didn’t understand what the metadata lists were called or just plain didn’t know what I was looking for. Also, did not see any info on the web developer. Would you mind pointing me in the right direction? Sorry – total newbie here.

    Cannot thank you (and BP) enough for the wonderful information everyone shares. If you ever have any grunt work needed out my way, I am more than willing to trade my time for any learning experience. Thanks again.

  10. Reviewing old leads to find a pattern is a genius idea for discovering new absentee owner leads! My husband and I are still saving for our first house, so we won’t be stocking up on property for “inventory” anytime soon. However, so you think this method could be a good way to find a discounted deal on our first home?

  11. possibly those that live closer are either accidental landlords who could not sell the last house, or ended up with mom’s house and decided to rent. While the out of state owners are real estate investors who bought the property on purpose and have a management team in place.

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