What's more productive: Paying someone to drive/dollars, or mail?

11 Replies

Hi, I'm weighing paying someone drive for dollars to gather beat up house leads to use for skip tracing the owner, vs gathering probate and building code violation lists and mailing the residences and probate recipients. 

If you guys could do only one of these, is there a clear winner?

My thinking at the moment is this:

1) The probate list is probably the most productive option to start with based on courses I've taken

2) Code violation list is also nice and somewhat automatable (in the sense of outreach efforts)

3) Driving for dollars will require paying someone around $10/hr and I'm not sure what I'll get from that. I consider it the lowest option at the moment unless you guys think it's good (PS, due to work I can't do this myself, I'll need to and prefer delegating).

Thank you for any suggestions

@Sean D

Good question! Every market is different and changing, so what works in Houston today may not work in Chino Hills tomorrow. 

I would allocate some money to each strategy and see which one performs best. Kill the others and double down on improving that one marketing strategy via split testing. 

Best of luck!

Try not to think small. If these are the choices you want to stick with sure. But I suspect you are not going to discriminate  if the end goal is to make money, right?

Let me tell you a little story my man. Go get some pops it will be a tearjerker.

So once upon a time long long ago, there  lived a princess. OMG dude she was so beautiful. She had long glowing golden locks eyes as blue as a smurf, and she smelled like bacon in the morning.

Then some aliens attacked and they snatched her and ate her eyeballs.

The end!

Now let me tell you an other story. Not as awesome as the first but more relevant.

There you are a successful filthy rich investor making a lil day trip through the Caribbean seas on your fancy yacht when disaster struck. You get stranded on a deserted island. And now you are hungry! The ocean is FULL of fish. You have a piece of chicken, a piece of shrimp,  a piece of bread. Certain fish do not eat chicken, certain fish do not eat shrimp and some fish do not eat bread. So you wonder... hmmm which bait should I use... which is going to catch me some fish because I have no idea if all these fish there at the bottom are shrimp eaters, chicken eaters or bread eaters.

So you  wonder and wonder.

Now you look around and you see a shipwreck and you see discarded nets....  what do you do!

Will you take a gamble and pick shrimp and try it? Or will it be bread?! Tell me what would you do?

I bet you would trow that net and catch some fish to devour

Do you care which type you catch? shrimp fish , bread fish or chicken fish? No you want meat! So do you care which lead you snag? No you want that paycheck no? Well why limit yourself? Why are you going out of your way to NOT get more deals. This is what you are doing when you are pondering which group to go after.  It doesnt matter what group  it is. The right question to ask is simply this:

How do I get someone motivated to sell to call me regardless what group they are in. That my friend is the question. The answer is SEO. You are in front of them the MOMENT they need you. 

And since they find you, not you find them, the tables have turned. Now you are the one that are deciding whether or not you want to do business with them, Not the other way around. This sparks more urgency and desperation on their side and they are more likely to sign contracts and they will see it as a favor too.

Do you really think I care if lead #28 came from an absentee owner?


I keep hearing people say "it depends on your market" and "what works today may not work tomorrow".

Here is the thing with this.

We all are humans. We all have emotions, we all feel, we all get in trouble, we all inherently work the same (same species). We all will feel the same way when we need to sell, when we want to sell and when we HAVE to sell. It is human psychology and behavior. We are all the same! Sure we express it differently but the underlying psychology is the same unless you are an alien.

The reason the gentleman above me is saying this... is because these "inferior" marketing (and I use the word "marketing" very lightly here) strategies work based on luck, and chance.

Bandit signs for example... most people will not call a bandit sign number. I have heard things from serial killers behind the number trying to find out where you live, to just not credible. And then you need to be lucky someone drives by that 1) wants to sell, 2) trusts a bandit sign, 3) has a pen ready during the drive, 4) needs to see it.

Keep in mind, these 4 points are not "or" points... not ANY of these points need to be satisfies, no no, ALL of the points need to be satisfied.

It is absolutely not that some of these methods work in some markets and in other markets they are not. No, it is simply chance. People simply see sometimes it works and sometimes it does not and they draw the WRONG conclusion, saying .. "ohh it then must depend on the market, and location and what year it is". This is absolutely wrong.

You are putting your financial future at risk relying on these inferior methods. If you do this, if you refuse to adapt your vision and strategies and if you will keep going after these methods you will never reliably make it. You simply need a better lead generation system.

I am not a fan of DMM, but this still could work.

The order of method of priority is

  1. SEO
  2. FB ads/PPC
  3. DMM

Just  take a few steps back. Don;t take anyone I said here as truth. BUT take what I said to open your mind a bit , and do a bit of thinking and analysis on your own. You will come to find what I am saying actually is true!

@Sean D

You can pay property scouters based on success and not per hour.

Give them 500-1000 $$ per house you get from there list!

You can find them on craigslist, bigger pockets, you can use uber drivers mail man and more...

Also listen to podcast 81 on Marketing from the guy that owns yellow letters. Com.

You will definitely love it!

@Sean D

Having people driving for dollars, paying them is the least productive. I partnered with a real estate agent, where the broker required his agents to do this, ring doorbells, he did it for 2 years, for 10 hours/week, and have not produced one deal out of it. And here you're paying people to do something that's pretty ineffective. Recently, I read many news stories of people going around ringing doorbells, and have scared neighbors calling the police on suspicious characters casing the neighborhood. One man visiting from India to see his newborn grandson was shot by police for taking a walk around the block, doesn't speak English, so he didn't know what "put your hands up is".

Probate list, you probably get a few leads of those. My mother in law just passed this July, and it'll take several months for it to tale effect. We already contacted brokers, and by the time the probate goes into effect, we would've found a buyer. On the other hand, I heard of cases where someone inherited a property, didn't probate it for 20 years till she was ready to sell it. I know of a few cases where siblings inherited a property, a one bought their portion from the others and lived in it.

Violations, that's a funny one. One own 3 plexes and a prior owner were on bad term with tenants, and they call on every little thing. When I bought the place, he lived on the 2nd floor, the 3rd floor bedroom was his office (rest of the 3rd floor was empty) , and his cat lived on the 1st flor apartment. Said he was tired of tenants. Everything went smoothly, got the mortgage, closed on it, then a HELOC. Then 10 years later I refied for lower rates. They dug up violations from before I owned the place. I checked and it was the city was way behind on it's manual filing, and as it turned out, the prior owner corrected the violations before I came in, now 15 years after the sale, but because there were too many, about 6 of them slipped through. However, in many areas, there are zombie houses, with hundreds of violations, owners cannot be found, and in NY State, they started a registry. So getting leads based on violations probably works in C and D areas.

@Sean D I'll put in my vote that the driving for dollars will probably be the least productive. Once someone drives around and comes up with a list of scraggly-looking houses, you still have to spend probably as much time researching the owner contact info. 

This is a numbers game - so you want to get as many prospective sellers as you can.

When it comes to lists, yes probate and code violations have potential, but you are starting out with small lists. Consider working with a list broker to suggest several lists that you can combine and test. These might include Owners with Low Financial Stability Scores, Seniors with Long-Time Ownership and of course the old standby Absentee Owners with Equity.

Focus on what to do with leads that reply, and closing them.  No joke I get 3-4 emails/texts/calls a DAY saying "Hi, I represent big money, would you sell your property at ...".  I always tell them the same thing.  "Sure, I'd consider it.  Send your offer to [email protected] ".

How how many people send an offer?  Almost none.  So for these guys, it's a numbers game.  They send out 10000000000 emails, calls, letters, whatever, hoping that 1% reply.  Of that 1%, they need 1% to be actual sellers.  And then 1% of those to make a deal happen.

Well I've given these guys their first 1% filter.  They got a reply.  I'm now a "warm lead".  Yet they don't follow up.

So -- biggest advice I can give:  Don't be like those guys.   Owners are sick of them.

@Cody L. I agree - there are so many investors sending calling and mail to the same people. That's why I recommend mailing to people who aren’t on every other investor’s radar. Absentee Owners have been popular for a long time, and are apparently still somewhat effective (people are still mailing to them) but they are getting multiple offers to buy their home. It's hard to stand out.

There are some owner-occupied segments with people who share motivating factors for selling their home.

Seniors with Long-time Ownership: often ready to downsize or transition to assistance.

Homeowners with Low Financial Stability Scores (FSS): Struggling financially and likely ready to cash in on their asset.

Both these categories have additional advantages in that they probably don’t haven’t been updated and may have deferred maintenance. They won’t be expecting the same money as their neighbors with the shiny new kitchen and fresh paint.

@Sean D paying someone to drive/dollars for $10/hr is not a good option. Direct mail would be a much better choice if you can do 5-6 touches. Good luck! 

Originally posted by @Tracy DeVore :

@Jerryll Noorden. Good morning ☀️ I enjoyed reading your response - not only informative but entertaining as well . Kept me reading to the end . Great way to start my day ! Rise and Shine ☀️. Tracy

 Mooorning. Lets get some goldielocks bacon going! yawn!

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you