Direct Mail Marketing

23 Replies

I am putting together my first direct mail campaign as I begin my journey into the real estate industry as a buy and hold investor in the Tampa and St. Pete area. I am going to hand write the yellow letters but most importantly I have questions on how to create my list. I only want to send mail to owners of multi family properties that owns it free and clear. I am looking for owners that are highly motivated, such as mom and pop, and retiring landlords, that will allow me to owner finance the property. My question is how do I find lists that meet those criteria in addition to driving for dollars for only multi family properties?

You could go to and input your specific criteria for the area and other criteria that you are looking get into and then pay so many cents per lead. If you have specific questions about listsource, just type that into search on the forums and you will find plenty of info on how to use it and peoples opinions on it.

I used it and got a small list of absentee owners and started mailing to them...I've gotten a few calls so far so I would say that it's worth it.

Aryelle Collins As mentioned, plug your criteria (property type; equity; age of owner) into Listsource and it will provide you a list.

Since you are targeting tired/retiring landlords, have you considered eviction filings? Eviction info is often available online. It will require some manpower to process the court data into a mailing list; but probably worth it given your narrow focus on older landlords. Property assessor site also has last sale date; so you can exclude any recent purchases. In the eviction niche, consider avoiding all corporate ownership and owners of more than 4 properties.

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Public records??  Anybody?? Free access to whatchu want??  Anybody?? No??

Ok, that's my rant for the day.

Alright, especially since you are right here in Florida and the sunshine law applies, the property appraiser has a list of every property in that county.  Why?  To charge taxes of course!!

Also, since you can't charge the same type of tax for a single family home as you would a strip center, they have codes for each type of property there is.  These are called D.O.R. Use codes (Dept of revenue) or Property use codes.

Using this code you can get a list of every kind of property there is.

Do you want a list of only 2-4 units?  They have it.

How about a list of 2-4 units which were owned more than 20 years with the owner out of state?  They have it!!

Call your local property appraiser and ask them if you can access this list by their website or if you have to buy the list on cd.  Either way, it will be worth your while.

Hope this helps!!

@David Dey Wow that seems like a much easier way to put together my list together by just using the local property appraiser! I only want duplexes, triplexes, and fourplexes focusing in the Seminole heights area, so do I just go on the county appraiser site and input that information to get the list of properties?

I'm going to go with @David Dey on this one and say property records. Only cost is your time, and if you're starting out with your first campaign then I'm assuming you have time. 

Also, if you pull records yourself they will higher quality records vs list source that pulls a large number of leads that will probably be worthless. 

In addition to that, if you are handwritting them you are not going to need a list of 1000 owners because you can't handwrite that many letters. 

My advice is property records.

@Luka Milicevic Thanks for the clarification that this would be the most efficient route for me to take to start out! I would rather pull the records for myself anyway. Do you think writing 200 letters to send out is an adequate number to start with since I'm doing everything myself?

Handwritting 200 letters is a lot. I would write one and leave blank an area for the property address. Go get HIGH quality copies and write in the address with a different color pen would be my recommendation.

There is no such thing as too little, or too much marketing. It depends on what you can handle and how much you are able to do.

If you can only send out 5 letters a week, then send out 5 letters a week.

Marketing has to be consistent, so keep sending and don't get discouraged if you don't get as many calls as you want. These things take time. 

If you JUST send out 200 letters and expect a deal-it probably won't happen. If you continuously send out 200 letters/month you will most likely get a deal if you're consistent.

@Michael Nicholson thank you for your kind words.  Any way I can be of service.

@Aryelle Collins here's another way you can be very proactive... And get a lot more deals.

What I shared with you, was a campaign I actually ran, with one exception, instead of mailing them, I called them.

Here's the hint, if you make your list targeted enough, then every lead will be a quality lead.  For example, as mentioned before, instead of just looking for 2-4 units with high equity, how about looking for 2-4 units which have been owned for over 20 or more years with the owner out of the state?

Here's the thought process.  If you are an owner of a 2-4 unit, then you are thinking of cashflow, which makes you an investor.

An investor thinks, "everything's for sale for the right price."

When you call, you can expect 1 of 3 responses, "yes," "no," or "how much?"

Very rarely will you get a angry response.  Most know what you are doing and will actually respect you for your proactive approach.

The second thing is that, the earliest age when you start to think about real estate as an investment is in your 30's.  Therefore, the average owner you call that has owned their property for over 20 plus years will be in their 60's or older, which means that they are probably thinking of retirement at this point.  As well as the fact that they are in another state adds to interest in selling.

Also, probably having not looked at the price  or value of the property in the last 20 plus years, he/she will have the current price somewhere based on the time he/ she bought it in the first place.

So when you ask them what the lowest price they would accept for an all cash offer, don't be surprised if you get an absolutely low priced offer. 

Of course, just because you asked for a cash price doesn't mean you can't make an owner finance offer.

I usually ask the lowest price/cash offer question first, to establish the number.  I then ask if they have a mortgage.

If the answer is no, my next question is, "would you be willing to take any of their purchase price in payments.

The answer will always be either, "yes," "no," or "what do you mean?"

If the question is the last one, I then explain owner financing along with the tax benefits of not taking the full price in one shot.

(Btw, I don't mention interest until they do... I have gotten quite a few no interest loans that way)

Bottom line, since I chose the list with such specific criteria, every lead is a good lead.  So I take the proactive approach of calling them.  You will get a better response.

If you write 200 letters you may get 1-2 deals.  If you call 200 leads, you should get at least a 10% close rate.  (Does 20 deals sound good to you?)

Hope this helps

Hey everyone!  I see that this is a trending thread right now, so I thought I'd jump in here to ask a couple questions since I am also a newbie wholesaler.  Hope nobody gets angry at me. BTW, @David Dey - I agree with the general consensus - you're an awesome dude.  Thanks for sharing such great information with us! My questions below kind of go against what you've been saying and I am going to call my local property appraiser tomorrow to talk with him about the things you've mentioned tonight; however, I am going to ask my questions anyway to see if anybody has any advice on this side of the coin (the not-quite-so-specific-list side).

Q1: What is/are the best list(s) I can get from the MLS? (I have a young agent working with me.)

Q1b: Are there any special ways to get that list (for example, you can't directly search for something on the MLS, but maybe there is some sort of back-door method to getting your list)?

Q2: I have a list right now for Tax Delinquent Property Owners. I sent out a pretty stereotypical "We buy Houses" postcard to these owners. I haven't heard much back from my postcards. Is there perhaps a better approach? Like not using postcards, or saying something different on the postcard itself?

wow, @Chris Jackson and @Aryelle Collins thank you for your kind words!!  Aryelle, I will be responding to your PM when I get back from NYC.

Chris, let me see if I can give you some pointers regarding your questions on how to best use your realtor.

Even using the normal channels, you may wanna look for the least used approach.

For example, how about expired listings?  

Your realtor can get access to this list, even further narrowing down the list to your specific criteria but thenyour realtor can further actually reach out to the expired listing seller and bring you to them with an offer on a silver platter.

Try finding a list of expired listings with delinquent taxes.  

Bottom line, see what everyone else is doing and do something else!!

As for your tax delinquent list, the problem is  you have only picked up half the story.  What you need to do is take that list and filter it one step further.  Abandoned and tax delinquent is an amazing list.  Estate and tax delinquent will get you deal after deal.

Just tax delinquent is not quite enough.

Again, not to belabor the point but, see what everyone else is doing and do something else.  Once you've made your list valuable enough, go the extra step that everyone else isn't doing.  The owner is getting dozens of postcards and letters daily.  So call him/her!!   You will automatically stand out!!

Hope this helps!!

I guess I don't know how to go that extra mile.  I got my delinquent list from the court house,  but how am I supposed to know which people from that list are also going through probate?  or how am I supposed to get their numbers to call? thanks for the help! 

Originally posted by @Chris Jackson:

I guess I don't know how to go that extra mile.  I got my delinquent list from the court house,  but how am I supposed to know which people from that list are also going through probate?  or how am I supposed to get their numbers to call? thanks for the help! 

 Ok, so I misunderstood. I thought that you had received the list from your realtor.

So depending on how many leads you have in total, you may want use your own sweat equity and take your list and input it (one by one) into your property appraisers/assessor's search tool to see if the mailing address matches the subject property.

You could also, ask the courthouse, or your tax collector to give you the same list with the additional info, or at least give it to you into a spreadsheet format that you can manipulate to get the info to sift to the top.

As for finding phone numbers:

I posted this a Lil while ago but don't know how to send the actual post, so I'm copying and pasting it here.

Let me first start by saying that to find the owner of the property, first you must go to your local property appraiser's site, then look up the address to find out who owns the place. That's the first step.

Here is a link to every property appraiser and public records search in the country. Just click on the map to your state, then click on your county, then go to the data online for which ever branch of public records you need.

Hope this helps, so here is that other post.

Finding absentee owners and their phone numbers is actually pretty easy now days. In this age of Internet and public records and ease of access, It's very difficult to stay off the radar.

Everybody leaves a digital footprint somewhere.

Here are some basic tools I use to find people.

Free first:


Google is the most underrated tool to finding a person. Starting with their name and hopefully city or at least state. You can find out pieces of the puzzle that make it easier to locate the person.

Ex: if they are a professional of some sort, i.e. Doctor, lawyer, now you have areas you can find them. If they are a part of a forum, it pops up.

I once pulled up a person that was a on a site for classic cars that posted a request for parts along with his phone number. (Bought the house and made a 20k flip profit)

Public records are amazing: if you locate the area where the seller lives, make sure you look them up in their counties property appraiser, and clerk of court/register of deeds.

Examples of places you can find them:

If they pulled a permit on a house the notice of commencement may include their phone number.

If they were in a lawsuit and represented themselves, most forms will include a phone number.

If they were a landlord and did an eviction, the 3 day notice or complaint will usually have their phone number.

There are quite a few areas the info will show up in public records.

Social media is the hands down best way to locate people.

I have found more people through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn then I can tell you.

My favorite example is where I located the owner of an abandoned home on Facebook. I had tried every tool I had available to me prior including free and paid services. Including high end skip trace tools. I had found out she had a daughter but couldn't find her either. Then I tried Facebook. Her daughter popped right up showing that she worked at the local Applebee's as a bartender. And on her page her most recent post was a request by her to her fb friends requesting a ride to work. And in the response was.... Wait for it... Her mom apologized for not being able to pick her up as she was heading into work right then. (Thank you oversharers) a quick click over to moms fb page revealed that she worked as a waitress at the crackerbarrel next door.

One of our bird dogs actually went over there and talked to her, set up an appt and we ended up buying the house for $600.

Cheap next:

Ussearch is a cheap skip trace tool that costs about $49 for a 3 month unlimited use service. There is a lot of junk in to sift through but many times you get lucky. The best tool in there is their direct link to social media.

More costly but worth it:

We have access to a service called tracers that, for .50 per pull, gets us some of the most up to date info on anyone out there.

We also employ a couple of private eyes that are somewhat entrepreneurial that will not only locate the owner but set up the appt for between 500-1000 per closed transaction.

These are a few of the tools we use to locate our sellers... And our buyers.

Hope this helps!!

P.S. I mentioned if the owner is a professional of some sort.

If they are, check your states Secretary of State corporation look up, manytimes in their filings you will find their phone numbers.

P.S.S. If they own or run a website, that turns out to be an easy search. is like a whitepages for domain owners. Unless they specifically use and pay for a private service, you will have their email and phone number right there. (Try Zillow for example. I used the tool to speak to someone at the company to learn how to get info on expired listings off Zillow)

P.S.S.S. If you still can't find the person, give me a ring and I'll try to help you find them.

P.S.S.S.S. As to the offer, make sure that you talk to them and discuss their situation with them before you make your offer. You may be leaving money on the table by just making an offer and not seeing where you can solve their problem.

Ex: they may not have the ability to do the probate in which case a lower offer with you covering the cost and walking them through the process may be in order.

Maybe, they have liens and judgments against them that by you negotiating you can save a truckload of money.

Ex: code enforcement against the property that you can get reduced by bringing the property into compliance. (I once got a 300k code enforcement lien reduced down to 1k. I benefited from my sweat equity of solving problems as opposed to giving it to the gov.

My approach is to ask the owner to forget what liens and junk is against the property, what do they need for themselves. Then I put that number or solution into the contract "plus payoff of all liens and encumbrances."

Hope this helps

I have started marketing to vacants & people in financial distress. If you want to know how you will have to connect with me (per the terms of this forum. Terms I do not fully understand)

@David Dey On the county property appraiser site it allows you to do an advanced search and input the zip code of the area you are targeting and the amount of units, but does not allow me to go deeper to target a specific group, such as tax delinquent absentee owner. Can you explain how you are able to successfully access that information when you do your search please?

I agree that handwriting letters is a TON of work. You should either do something more efficient or hire someone to do this. Your time as the investor/dealmaker is too valuable to be spent with manual labor.

Hi @Aryelle Collins you can get all those categories through most list providers.  we currently use core logic.

The key to your direct mail is to create a unique message.  Bottom line, all these owners are constantly getting hit with direct mail.

Develop a message that is unique and most importantly will get the owners to pick up the phone and call you.

And of course, when you get a good deal, make sure you have an exit strategy for the deal.  Unless you have an outlet for the deals, then chasing deals is a total waste of time.....hope that helps......

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