My Dad

7 Replies

My dad was a succesful realtor many years go. If he can see what my son is doing, I am sure that he is proud.  I also feel that if he were alive and active today,he would be an incredibly succesful investor.

My dad was one of the pioneers, over 50 years ago, who made real estate a respected full-time profession.  As far as I know, and I have been told, he was the originator of the "neighborhood newsletter" way back then. [remember, there was no internet 50 years ago] 

I have been reading ideas  on BP on finding possible leads. One of them is to check to see who has died.  My dad did that too.  BUT, what my dad did was check the obits because he would halt newsletters to the address for several months.  Why? Because he knew that it is generally unwise for a widow or widower to make major decisions in the first year after the death of a spouse. He would not take advantage of others vulnerabilities.

When there is NOT a bereaved spouse left behind, though, I believe that a compassionate, scrupulous investor can actually be of assistance in the grieving family by being there for them and making the process of asset liquidation easier. 

So, the question is, how to know for sure, in the case of a death, whether you are taking advantage of a spouses vulnerability, or are in fact making it easier for a family going through a difficult time.

my dad passed years ago, so I cannot ask him.

Use the usual marketing strategies to get the owner to respond (letters, letters of intent, postcards, etc.).  If he/she responds to your marketing, you will have your answer.

I deal with this issue, as we have done Probate marketing in markets all over the U.S., and I developed a very successful series of letters for this group.

First, what not to do - do NOT send this group those yellow letters.  Those are kind of bait & switch tactic (my wife and I don't REALLY "love" your house...) and we don't want any hint of deception in our marketing to this group.  Professionalism and service are the keys to deal with this group effectively and with sensitivity.

Here's the core of our message - we offer the heirs (or devisees, for those of you who know RE law) the ability to quickly convert real estate assets to CASH, which is important for 2 reasons:

(1) real estate is expensive to maintain (repairs, taxes, utilities, etc.) which depletes the assets in the estate over time, and (2) cash is much easier to deal with than real estate when dividing the estate among the heirs.

Use white letters, typed, signed, professional.  This group appreciates people that offer real help, and they despise people who may try to take advantage of them.  

“Character is much easier kept than recovered.” ~ Thomas Paine

Originally posted by @Dev Horn :

First, what not to do - do NOT send this group those yellow letters.  Those are kind of bait & switch tactic (my wife and I don't REALLY "love" your house...) and we don't want any hint of deception in our marketing to this group.  Professionalism and service are the keys to deal with this group effectively and with sensitivity.

Wait.  Your statement suggests that there is a "hint of deception" in yellow letters.  And that  it's ok for some seller groups but not others.  

Why bait and switch with any group, why use such a message at all? You and your wife don't REALLY love anybody's houses when sending such marketing.

@Dev Horn  -  I agree with you on sending yellow letters to probates.  Don't do it. I hear these folks complain all the time about getting yellow letters and postcards.  I have never had a complaint about white, professional letters.

I also picked up on @Vicki Gleitz  's comment on getting names out of the obits.  I don't think anyone should be doing that.  

Once the family is ready to settle the estate which will involve selling any property in the estate, they will start the probate process.  Folks open the estates quickly in some cases but in my area it may be months or even more than a year later. 


I find every situation is different. Recently, I was visiting the farm of a person who had passed his property to his daughter. His daughter was showing me the farm. I expressed my condolences over her loss. She quickly informed me it was no loss. A few months before his death, her father took in a young woman, lived with her, and gave her all of his money-just before he died. He left the daughter with no cash-only the farm, balanced by a lot of medical bills. She said she was glad he was dead, and she appreciated my letter. She used a colorful word to describe her father.

On the other hand, my attorney suggested waiting 2-4 months after probate is filed, because of what Sharon Vornholt said. Sometimes it takes months to even appoint a Personal Representative.

So, my "take" is it is all numbers. You send the letters. Some will be early. Some will be late. None will be offensive if you follow Dev Horn's advice, and make it professional. I have never had anyone complain to me, and I have mailed a lot of letters. 

If anyone ever complains, I will just say, "This guy, Dev Horn told me..." LOL

I can actually count on one hand the number of complaints I have had from probate mailings over the years.  On the rare occasions when I do, they are fine after I explain how many people we have been able to help.

Just keep everything professional and you will be fine.


I think the point of the OP has mostly to do with timing of solicitation. 

Surviving spouses (widows/widowers) should treated with kid gloves.

Other relatives may appreciate a helping hand. The best strategy that I've found is to become an insider by just offerings helpful assistance long before a sale or other transaction is considered or deemed necessary by the person(s) in charge.

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