Probate results!

20 Replies

Hey BP friends, I'm writing as an active real estate investor in the Tampa bay market for the past few years. Mostly, I buy properties cash and have been acquiring them through the auctions and MLS.

Lately, I've been considering getting into direct mail & have created a full marketing plan to suit...I was wondering what kind of success you guys are having.  Would be helpful if any of you could let me know what to reasonably expect for the efforts per 100 probate letters sent.

I look forward to hearing back :)

Well statistically you should get 5-7 calls from your mailer and complete 1 from that original 100.  If you have this type of results your doing great! Good luck

Thanks Curt, so 1/100 mailers is the typical conversion rate?  I'd be thrilled to get those numbers.

There are some very good threads on mailers.  Search the messages of Jerry Puckett and Michael Quarles.  

If I sent 100 mailers I would expect no deals. Perhaps 1-5 calls.

I'm about 1 month in on my campaign and seeing consistant 5-6% response rate each week.  We've sent 400 letters so far.  I'm mailing to out of state absentee owners and staggering the letters so that I receive calls Monday - Friday.  As promising as the response rate is, my conversion rate is at 0% for now, although I've had 3 promising leads that I haven't been able to capitalize on.  I'm planning on keeping it up for 8-12 months, switching from Handwritten letters to postcards after 3 touches with the letter.

The thought that I have at this point is I haven't found someone in a bad enough position yet.

Perhaps @Sharon Vornholt  will have some insight for you. She's been successful in this area with direct mail marketing and writes regularly on the subject for the BP blog. 

Hope that helps! 

You guys are talking about some SUPER LOW VOLUMES here.  I have mailed THOUSANDS of probate letters to THOUSANDS of people in multiple markets across the county.  100 letters may result in a few calls, but probate is a SLOW-TO-DEVELOP prospect pool.  It can take 6 months, a year, or more (from the filing of probate) before the estate deals with the sale of real estate and other assets.  As @Ned Carey  said - on a volume of 100, after 1 mailing - expect NOTHING to come from that and feel pretty special if anything does.  See if you can get all the probates since the beginning of the year - like 1,000 or more.  You need to get your volumes WAY up to play probates.

Probates are a bit better than just mailing to owner occupants, but we've found that they are expensive to market to (plus you need to be SUPER sensitive in the communications with them), and this prospect pool is not as productive for us as - for example - absentee owners.

Everyone thinks probates are great and they are, but they are not easy or cheap to develop as prospects.  Some of my larger guys that have mailed to thousands of them over many months have actually backed off their probate mailing due to cost and limited response rate.  As a result, I am not super high on probates....

@Dev Horn  Very interesting take on probates.  You are seriously the first person that has that opinion.  I'm not saying you are wrong because we've all had different experiences.  I always like hearing the other side of the coin.  Thanks for sharing! 

I agree with @Dev Horn  . Your list size is too small.  I add new probates every month to my old list.  Every few months, you have to scrub your list for "solds" and take those out. Just like any other niche, you have to mail monthly until they become motivated to sell. Direct mail campaigns are an ongoing process. 

Remember that according to statistics for any type of REI direct mail, you will get most of your DEALS at or beyond the 5 th mailing. I buy a lot of houses in probate at about the 1 year mark; that is how long it takes them to make the decision to sell. They have to deal with all the personal aspects of probate, cleaning out the house etc. And you have to wait until they are "mentally" ready to part with "mom's" house. It is a process that is different for each family.

With that being said, they are some of the most motivated sellers on the planet. When you get an AO/probate that is just about the best you can get. 

Also, I personally would never use postcards for probates.  

Sharon

I think the % response depends on the list and the mailer (post card or letter). For absentee owners, I've mailed thousands and thousands of postcards here in Phoenix. I get about 0.6% response on a post card and I would get about 1 deal per 3,000 post cards mailed. Now, interestingly, here in Phx it's getting tougher to get a deal with the Abesentee owner list because there is so much competition using that list. While I get the same response rate, it's tougher to secure a deal because I am essentially bidding against 5 other investors who've mailed the same owner! 

In the past, when I mailed letters to this list, I got a better response rate, but it was more expensive to mail.

I've just started mailing to Probate due to the competition found in Absentee lists.

I am sure in other parts of the country there is less competition than there is in Phx with all these lists.. Actually I am thinking of doing some virtual wholesaling -  wholesaling in other parts of the country.

Much of it is online. Search for Children's court, orphans court, registrar of wills. Estates Probate etc. If you area is not online it may mean a trip down to the registrar of wills. 

My recent focus has been on probates. I am slowly building up my list. I've split my list into two markets. The first market I focus on are PR's( to be) who have just petitioned the court to act as the personal representative. At this point, they have no authority to sell any property within the estate. My goal with this market is to become an asset to them as they begin the probate process. After about 60-90 days, hopefully, the court will grant them the "letters of administration," with limited or preferably full authority. The letters are basically their "ticket" or permission to begin the liquidation of property within the estate. Those PR's who have already received the "letters," I identify as my second market. As time passes, new cases will enter market 1, market 1 will transition to market 2 and some market 2 will come off my list.  Acting as a licensed realtor, my goal is to list some, have my investors/buyers list in place and build up reserves to later on approach the PR's not just as a realtor but as the principal buyer. As far as the return rate, it's been sub 1% and 0% conversion rate. But, that being said, I think the #'s jump to something like 83% after the 5th or 6th contact. My plan, (as a probate newbie) and what I'd encourage anyone else delving into probate, is to just keep reaching out to the PR's on a consistent basis with the goal of being a true asset and resource to them and the deals will come. 

Maybe its because of www.Yellowletters.com however I have been contacted by a company that sells the following. And my cursory review says that they are legit.

Rate card ( No minimum order)

Probate with or without Real Estate: 35 cents
Probate with Real Estate: 75 cents
Obituaries record with RE : 30 cents 

For this data mined for you it seems like a real value. @Sharon Vornholt  would be a better judge than I.

They have about 5000 current records of probates with real estate and obits less than 30 days old in about 1000 counties. Thats almost 1/3rd of the Counties in the United States. For me they are not large enough, from a list count, for us to offer their services to our customer base however they may be a provider that some of you could use for probate leads... 

I especially like the Probates with real property.

They are also off shore so they also have VA rates at 3.00 an hour for data mining that seems very lucrative.

I dont want to post their contact info as not to deteriorate the impact of the list however if any of you want to send me a PM I can guide you in their direction.

Hey @Michael Q. we also get a lot of "data trolls" contacting us from India; they make a business of providing U.S. county data.  We have not used guys like that, but I've talked seriously to one guy and he sure seemed like he had a handle on it, so I think that can be a legit source.

We've used U.S. Probate leads in multiple markets.  You pay about $2 to $3 a name/address.  Their customer service is very good.

P.S. "Probate" deals can be great - but many of them just eventually end up in the Absentee Owner list after the property has been probated. The last probate I bought was listed on the MLS by the executor just like any other house. Probate is just one of a number of conditions that can create an investment opportunity. It's fine, but harder to mine and develop than you might think. People who are on the probate lists have generally not yet completed probate (i.e. any property still in the name of the deceased), so you're kind of developing a relationship if you mail to that list and hoping they will consider selling to you when the assets have been probated (and title transferred to the new owners who may legally sell it).

Originally posted by @Sharon Vornholt:

Remember that according to statistics for any type of REI direct mail, you will get most of your DEALS at or beyond the 5 th mailing. I buy a lot of houses in probate at about the 1 year mark; that is how long it takes them to make the decision to sell. They have to deal with all the personal aspects of probate, cleaning out the house etc. And you have to wait until they are "mentally" ready to part with "mom's" house. It is a process that is different for each family.

With that being said, they are some of the most motivated sellers on the planet. When you get an AO/probate that is just about the best you can get. 

Also, I personally would never use postcards for probates.  

Sharon

This above is THE DEAL with probates.  Spoken by a pro.

I've had this same conversation literally thousands of times. almost had the same one at lunch today with an associate. I've argued the and point with my friend Gary D, who sells a probate course for beginners. 

You do NOT have to be the first person to mail to a new PR.  You do have to have patience because probate can be a waiting game. 

I like to refer to the "pain point timeline."  Living people have pain points. Find those and offer relief.

Interesting forum. We have mailed probates over the years. We recently started again about a year ago. It cost us $8k to get our first deal and that was about 3 months ago. We haven't had another one since. I was wondering if I should continue to use resources chasing probate.

I am lucky here; the leads are published in the newspaper at the same time each month. How did I find out that this was the case?  I picked up the phone and called the probate court.  They gave me the exact information. 

@Brad Chandler  - what in the world did you spend 8K on?

@Rick H.   - you nailed that; eventually it will get too painful to keep on "keeping on" and they will be ready to sell.   This is a strategy that takes some time,  but when they are finally motivated to sell things move quickly. Patience and consistency is the name of the game here.

Sharon

Originally posted by @Ned Carey:

Much of it is online. Search for Children's court, orphans court, registrar of wills. Estates Probate etc. If you area is not online it may mean a trip down to the registrar of wills. 

 In New Jersey it's called the Surrogates office

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