Creating my list - am I doing this right?

11 Replies

Hi Everyone,

I'm putting together my direct mail list and am having a bit of trouble. My strategy is to buy, fix and flip. I'm currently using listsource to see what is available in my farm area. While the list starts at 21k results, it drops down to almost nothing when I enter in my preferences. The basic criteria I'm using is:

3+ bed
2+ ba
30+% equity

This gives me 2600 results. When I add in mortgage defaults from the last year the list drops to 5. If I instead add in absentee owners, the list drops from 2600 to 33.

Does this mean that I need to expand my search location, thereby changing my farm area? Or should I mail to my list which really then will only include high equity owners? Does anyone else do this and if so what are your results?

If sending to high equity owners is not enough, what do I need to add? I thought I understood how to create my own list until I saw the small amount of results. If I'm asking the wrong questions, please let me know. I really want to understand this and get a solid list to mail to.

Any assistance is greatly appreciated!

I wouldn't worry about mortgage defaults. Yes, there is some motivation to sell there, but clearly, you need to get more people to mail to. Try 4 or 8 years ownership, maybe non owner occupants. 30-40% equity and roll with it

It does not mean you need to expand your area.  What you are experiencing is data mismatching.  I in a former life :) was database administrator.  One of your filtering criteria (seems like the mtg defaults) is not matching in the right way the county has given Listsource its data or the county does not have that data.

Many times you will see in some counties that if you tried to even add the bed count that your list count would reduce.  This means the county does not have that and listsource is respecting the fact that you want to know that filter so it only serves back data that does have any data in that field.

In your case it appears you are get some data back on some really good filter criteria (bed count etc).  

I agree with Uriah D.  Dont worry about mtg defaults, thats going to be headache.  Think about what kinds of sellers have high equity.

- use list source to search on MTG amts if that gives you enough data return
- what kinds of sellers would have high equity?  (no mtgs  ;) )
- what kinds of sellers would have high equity even if have a mtg?  (sellers that bought at least 10 years ago)
- what kinds of sellers would have high equity even if they have a high mtg (sellers that bought in 2009-2011  the martket has gone up)

I have a few other tricks up my sleeve if you want to private message me.

Play around with filters above, then combine them and trial and error with another goodie (absentee owners)

One piece of advice I want to give and anybody that reads this, most people stop right where you are hitting roadblocks with a site like listsource.  I cant tell you how many hours I have stared at a county trying to figure out why I am only getting back 30 results until suddenly I figure out what the county had used as a data point and then bam 400 results. (and when that happens I know I am the only guy at the party before the party has started lol )

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Pay close attention to what @Chris Jackson said, you'll often see lists drop to almost nothing if you include some criteria that is not particularly well populated in that county. By well populated, I mean the county doesn't (or hasn't in the past) done a good job a tracking that particular piece of data. Therefore you really want to pay attention each time you add a particular criteria, and ask yourself each time if that makes sense. For example some counties in Arizona don't track bedrooms, so if you add Beds:3-4, your count will drop to almost nothing - which obviously doesn't make sense, and therefore you can conclude that criteria won't work in that county.

@Chris Jackson @Sean OToole @Uriah D.

Wow, thank you for the great feedback! This sounds very much like what might be happening. I will add that it's not only the mortgage defaults, the same thing happens when I enter in absentee owners.

I have been playing around with the options and am finding that if I work backwards, beginning with my farm area and enter absentee owners first, I end up with 1200 results.

Once I put in SFR, without selecting bedrooms and equity, the results lower to 143. If I add in equity at 35%+, it goes down to 53. If I add in bedrooms instead of equity, the results go from 143 to 98.

I will keep playing around with it for sure... thank you very much for those words of motivation Chris!

With that said, let's say that I can't narrow it down to include motivated sellers such as the absentee owners. Would it be good enough to get a list of the majority of my preferences in my intended farm area? If I mail to that list, it should also include any motivated sellers who fit the other criteria I select. Do you think that would be too wasteful? 

If that would work, would you add any other options to the list below, considering that I am looking to purchase fix and flips?

Criteria: Location, BR, BA, Equity, Property type SFR, Home Value

I appreciate your help with this!


@Danielle Cage ,

Another possibility might be to use Zillow to search and limit THAT to foreclosures in pre-foreclosure, for example, or what ever other criteria you've set.

I looked at a Kendall County property on Zillow today for which the Lis Pendens was just recorded on Monday, 4/4/2016.

Just a thought ...

David J Dachtera

"Success is not a destination. Failure is not an event. Success is a process, failure is a choice."
- DJ Benedict

@Danielle Cage - I think the most important thing is to match what you say in your direct mail, to your list. Better to have a few small lists, with well worded messages specific to each group - free and clear, absentee, value, or whatever - then a big list of various stuff. That is the biggest mistake I see new direct mailers make - saying the same thing to everyone.

This is the issue right here:

In a residential area there is almost no way that a drop of that magnitude would occur by going from farm area ---> absentee owner = 1200 to SFR designation to 143. Thats the issue right there.

Is this what you chose?

If yes can you connect with me and give me your criteria.  I'll take a look.  that's a bit odd.


***** odd is good

***** difficult is good

***** when we crack this code for you , you are probably around 1 of maybe 5 people in your farm area.

@Sean OToole Got it! I will definitely switch up my message to fit the particular list I am mailing. These suggestions are great. What you said is common sense, however I think us newbies spend so much time trying to get all of our ducks in a row that we tend to overlook something so simple.

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