Real Estate Marketing

Why Probates Continue to Be the Cornerstone of My Business — Despite Tough Competition

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

As many of you are undoubtedly aware, the Dallas Fort Worth market is one of the most desirable in the country when it comes to investing in real estate. Some areas have less than two months’ supply of inventory right now (six months is roughly equilibrium). Unfortunately, that kind of appeal doesn’t come without its drawbacks. There may be plenty of opportunity, but it is also met with a ferocious level of competition.

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Because of the widely available lists that contain probate leads, these often are the most difficult leads to secure. As a result, some people I know have given up on probates as a lead source. I am here to encourage you not to abandon but to persist.

While it’s true that many people will carpet bomb these leads, many will do so infrequently or sporadically. Others will mail once or twice, then taper off and stop mailing them altogether. Me personally? I mail until I am the last investor standing.

Related: Why Probate Properties Could Be The Best Deals In Real Estate

I don’t simply mail them one or twice, get frustrated from a lack of calls or appointments and then give up. I continue to mail them several times throughout the year. If it’s a house in an area that I really want, I continue marketing to them until they either sell to me or someone else buys the house. That is the kind of persistence it can take to secure some of these leads. But for those of us who have the persistence to do this, the reward is some of the best leads you can find in real estate — period.


Why Are Probate Leads So Valuable?

This is not about low balling sellers or taking advantage of people in tough situations. I am always about being honest and giving the seller the best offer I can depending on the value of the home and what it needs in repairs. So when I speak about probate leads being valuable, I am not strictly talking about a monetary sense. Instead, I view them as highly valuable because this lead source is one that is most likely one who WANTS to work with me. This is one of the top reasons why I choose to build a significant portion of my business around these leads.Chris Feltus Realtor

In my previous article, I tell a story where at a probate lead, I met with the seller, and their kitchen table was literally covered with what must have been at least 100 different postcards and yellow/white letters. Fortunately for that particular appointment, my postcard was one of the few marketing pieces they had pinned to a cork board in the kitchen.

The Type of Leads You Want to Work With

I can’t overstate how critical that can be. Sometimes when you market looking for distressed properties, it can be frustrating. You mail absentee owners, you go on the appointments, and despite your best efforts, the sellers just have an unrealistic idea of what the house is worth — or they aren’t motivated enough to sell.

When you work with probates as one of your main lead sources, all of that nonsense melts away. Oftentimes probate leads are the exact type of leads you want. They are houses with equity (usually because they are older), and more often than not, they need some level of repair, whether it’s just cosmetic in nature or requires something more profound, such as roof or foundation repair.

The sellers know and understand that. They are usually not experienced landlords themselves and don’t even consider fixing it themselves. With absentee owners, who sometimes can be fellow investors, it can be difficult to get on the same page. You want the property as a rental, and you know the property needs at least $12k to be rent ready at current rent rates. The seller, being a landlord, also has some degree of knowledge. Usually these landlord “experts” are people who only have a single rental unit — and run it very poorly. Yet they feel their brief run in with real estate qualifies them to be an expert.

Related: 5 Compelling Reasons to Invest in Real Estate Probates

Maybe the reason they couldn’t keep tenants is partly due to never putting in the repairs needed to get on top of market rent rates, but they never see it like that. So what I’m getting at is that it can be a struggle working with other lead types at times.


Local and Family Owned vs. Large Corporate Entities

Even though the competition can be tough, at least here in DFW, a decent portion of the people who market to these type of leads are large corporations that are buying up properties here (such as hedge funds). Many sellers hate this type of approach. They send out these guys sometimes who look like bankers, and they don’t seem to understand that’s a big turnoff to regular folk. Many of the sellers I work with would much rather work with someone who is local — especially a family owned and operated business, even if that means I might be paying a little less.

Other times, it’s heavy competition from other local businesses. Sometimes I get the deals; sometimes I don’t. But as they say, real estate is a numbers game. The more you play the game, the more appointments you make, the more offers you put out there, the more success you will see.

Investors: Do you use probate leads to grow your business?

Weigh in with a comment!

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.

    Joseph Ball from Groveland, Florida
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I do a lot of probate, too. I find, in general, probate sellers often have an inflated view of value. I find, in most cases, they want full retail, as compared to other kinds of motivated sellers I deal with. When I do a probate deal, it is pretty good. When I do a “motivated seller deal”, it is usually not as pretty, but the odds of doing a deal are higher.
    Justin Fussell from Crowley, Texas
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Nice article, Chirs. I’m learning how to source leads for probates. I think your points in the article are spot on.
    Steve Vaughan rental_property_investor from East Wenatchee, WA
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Thanks for the article, Chris. Its an interesting niche I’ve done a couple times, but don’t market to specifically. I can see why you would do multiple mailers to target a specific place in a specific area. My two had problems: 1) Multiple siblings spread out across the globe to decide on things and execute documents, and 2) Seller’s disclosure statements completely filled with ‘Don’t Know’. They new nothing about the property nor did they place any real value on what I needed to do to bring up to par. They had already ‘spent’ their found money in their mind and didn’t give a rip about my end. You are providing a valuable service to these folks. I hope they appreciate you!
    Jerry W. investor from Thermopolis, Wyoming
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I just bought an inherited property he heirs held for about 10 months. After they realized they did not know how to be landlords and after the appraisal came in $70K below what they thought it was worth I finally got it bought. I probably paid too much but nice 4 plexes are dam hard to find in my area. Now I am struggling to get the expenses down they went wild with.
    Lynn Dearing from Roswell, Georgia
    Replied over 3 years ago
    What is the firs step to finding those probate deals, other than personal knowledge?
    David Wiggers investor from Salem, Oregon
    Replied over 3 years ago
    I have had good luck with probate deals and will take them any chance I get.
    Bryce Ewing rental_property_investor from Lincoln, NE
    Replied over 3 years ago
    Great article! Can’t thank you enough for answering so many questions throughout this, and a few other, articles over Direct Mail Marketing. The impact you writers make will be worth more than your salaries x10. THANK YOU