One of the top questions I get asked, as a professional in the real estate investing industry, is “How do you find motivated seller leads – and persuade them to sell to you?”
Let me tell you: it’s a fine-tuned process that has taken years to develop. But, now that I have systems and procedures in place, my top 7 strategies for motivated seller marketing actually take very little effort, on my part.
And that’s exactly what I want to talk about today: my top techniques for creating a multi-stream motivated seller marketing plan.
Now, I’m coming at you with a lot of information but I think it’s all super valuable and important – especially if you don’t have a ton of experience with motivated seller marketing and lead capture techniques.
So, to sum it up – before we dive into the details – here are the 7 streams of marketing that I want to cover today...
- Create a unique off-market list of motivated sellers
- Automate your marketing
- Add a manual marketing component
- Build an effective website
- Drive all of your phone calls through a mobile/cell phone capture software
- Create a marketing library
- Use phone scripts for conversations with motivated sellers
Now, another note before I begin: the software that I use to automate all of these processes is Accelerated Investor Office (powered by Realeflow.com). At this time, this software is used exclusively by my team, but we’re planning to offer it to other investors at an affordable price, when the time is right. So, although this software is essential to my streams of marketing, keep in mind that these steps can be accomplished outside of using this software.
With that said, let’s get started...
Step #1: Create a unique off-market list of motivated sellers
So, how do you find “off-market” deals for wholesaling?
When you’re marketing with the “We buy houses, all cash” message (in an effort to find motivated sellers who are willing to sell below market value), here are a few methods to use:
- Online ads
- Craigslist ads
- Facebook ads and posts
- Bandit signs
- Newspaper ads
- Small local publications/newsletters
- Direct mail (letters and postcards)
Putting this all together – and keeping it organized, automated, and scalable – is the real challenge.
First, you need to understand the motivation behind the seller. Usually, a highly motivated seller is dealing with a problem or a life transition that makes them eager to get the property off their hands, such as:
- Distressed seller
- Distressed situation
- Back taxes
- Repairs needed
- Delinquent or destructive tenants
These are just a starting point! There are a lot of things that could go wrong with a property. Even homeowners who own their house free and clear (no mortgage) might find themselves in a life situation where they’re suddenly on a fixed budget, and they can no longer afford the property taxes. You never know.
So let’s start with marketing to motivated seller leads. As I mentioned above, the specific software I use is Accelerated Investor Office. This system has access to nearly every single property record across the country (150 million records that are updated on a daily basis).
Plus, there are a ton of different ways to search:
- Individual property address
- Owner type (individual person, corporate owner, trustee owner)
- Single family or multifamily apartment buildings
- Absentee owners
- Active listing board investor
- Cash fire
- High equity or low equity
- Long-term owner
- Free and clear
- Vacancy (zombie properties)
And that’s just the beginning.
I can also search within my specific county. In my case, Medina County, which has more than 72,000 property records. So, using all the filters available, I can narrow down my search to a more manageable number.
If I want to narrow it down even more, the advanced search lets me choose the # of baths/beds, square footage, owner type, and more.
Using these filters, I can get my search down to just over 200 property records. That’s way more manageable.
Another note: You can choose to filter out the REOs (bank-owned or government owned properties) – because you probably don’t want to send direct mail to these entities.
At this point, if you want to dial down your list even more, you can scroll through your 200-ish search results, and un-select the ones that might not be a good match.
So, bringing it all together, the first step in direct mail marketing is making sure you have the best, most targeted data possible. Don’t waste your time on a big, broad, vague list of leads!
Step #2: Automate your marketing
Now that you have a specific motivated seller list, you’re ready to set up a multi-touch marketing campaign.
The easiest way to do this is to have an automated way to turn your leads into prospects... and then your prospects into properties.
Accelerated Investor will allow you to choose the number of “touches” or mailings that you’ll send, as well as the frequency (e.g. 5 touches sent on a weekly basis = 5 pieces over the course of 5 weeks).
The software allows you to save your postcards/mailing pieces so you can easily pull them up. For instance, my favorite postcard says:
We Buy Houses & Multi Units
Cash or Terms
Dear Property Owner,
I am a local Real Estate Investor. My company buys properties in any area and any condition. I noticed your vacant property located at [insert address].
If you are interested in selling, please call me at 555.555.5555. Leave a message if I’m tied up, and I will return your call as soon as possible. I would appreciate a call one way or the other, so I’ll know you received this card.
Call Now - I Can Help!
This postcard has consistently produced the best ROI for me, because I can buy 125 of these for $7 (printed by a local print shop).
Next, the software lets you select your target audience (for instance: absentee owner, vacant properties).
You can choose from postcards, yellow letters, and “personally penned” letters. The personally penned letters are written with a robotic arm, and are meant to give the appearance of a handwritten letter and envelope. These are my favorite letters to send.
Just make sure you switch it up a little bit. You might want a handwritten letter as your first piece in the campaign, then a postcard, then a yellow letter – for example. With any of these templates, you can customize the text so it says exactly what you want it to. Obviously, you’ll also add your personal details – contact info, etc.
The software will also tell you the mailing date and the approximate “received date.” So, really this takes care of everything involved with your mailings.
And this is the main point: having ONE tool to automate your business is what you need so you can save time and accelerate your business by doing more deals.
When I’m managing 100+ properties, I don’t have time to switch between different systems – finding leads with one software system, uploading lists to another system... you get the idea. My team is all on ONE system – which streamlines the process and saves a load of time.
Step #3: Add a manual marketing component
This step is going to take me all of one sentence: Add a manual marketing component – like a handwritten postcard – that you mail out in addition to your automated marketing pieces. That’s it. This extra piece adds another helpful layer to your marketing, and doesn’t take a ton of effort.
Step #4: Build an effective website
Long story short... You gotta have a website, and it needs to automatically respond to people who visit your site through an auto-responder.
If someone opts into your website, they should receive an immediate response.
In Accelerated Investor Office, you can add a website. So, when you create this, you’ll want:
- The core website – this will have all the main features, information about your business, etc.
- The squeeze page – this is where motivated sellers, buyers, or private lenders will take action by opting to receive info from you
Your website needs to mirror the messaging on your marketing mail pieces. So, you can narrow down your squeeze pages by choosing the audience (“absentee owner,” “vacant property,” etc).
Then, you can either buy a domain or use your existing domain name, if you have one. And, just like that, you can have a website ready within minutes. Even after the site goes live, you can still make edits and additions.
And, this site will have an auto-responder already built in. So, if someone opts in, they will get email messages every week or so (however often you want the messages to go out) explaining why it’s a good idea to call you.
Let’s say someone does opt in... on the second page they see, they can enter details on their property (square footage, work required, and more). And all of that info gets dropped instantly into your database. No work on your part – amazing, right?
Step #5: Drive all of your phone calls through a mobile/cell phone capture software
Capturing cell phone numbers of motivated sellers is essential, so this is a powerful and important step.
Using mobile phone capture technology, you can return phone calls by texting the person, sending a voice broadcast, or sending a direct-to-voicemail message.
The software not only captures the person’s phone number, but it will also identify which campaign they were targeted with (Craigslist, direct mail, etc.) – and you can set the system to automatically send voicemails to these people who contact you.
And this is the awesome news: you don’t have to worry about following up with your leads, because the system will follow up with your leads.
Step #6: Create a marketing library
I’ve created this, along with my business partner, inside Accelerated Investor Office. It includes letters, postcards, yard signs, credibility kits, brochures, and other various pieces.
So, this is a compilation of all the marketing pieces I’ve used since 2004 (I know, I’m dating myself). This library includes pieces on all different topics: we buy houses, stop foreclosure, get cold hard cash, and more.
The best part of having this library is that you can pick and choose pieces, print them off, and be off and running. It saves time and is effective.
Step #7: Use phone scripts for convos with motivated sellers
The Accelerated Investor Office software also includes motivated seller phone scripts – so whoever you have answering your phone calls (your acquisitions manager, assistant, intern, college student), they can easily pull up a script and be prepared for phone calls with motivated sellers.
So, if you’re somewhat freaking out about talking to motivated sellers – don’t freak out! The scripts have everything you need, including word-for-word ways to:
- Encourage the person to sell
- Gather their contact info
- Gather info about the property
- Learn more about the mortgage and/or liens against the property
You can also use the script to discover which repairs or upgrades are needed. Some motivated sellers will say, “Well, it’s in good condition,” but the house has wood paneling and Grandma’s puke-orange shag carpet. Those obviously need to go!
Finally, you always need to ask: “If you were to sell the property for all cash today – and you would be able to move on the date of your choice – what is the absolute minimum amount you would accept?”
Then, the silver bullet question that should immediately follow is: “Is that the best you can do?”
After some conversation, you might also ask: “What will you do with the property if it doesn’t sell?”
So, for those of you who are freaking out about talking to motivated sellers (or having one of your inexperienced team members talk to motivated sellers), you can relax. Let the system do the work for you – and just follow the questions, step by step. The script will equip you to talk with the owner, who probably thinks their house is the Taj Mahal, and get them to come down to reality.
Next, you can schedule a time to meet the person and look at the property. Just make sure you always make it seem like you’re really busy. Say, “Well, I’m pretty booked up next week. I’m looking at a lot of properties. But how about Tuesday at 2 or Wednesday at 4?” Give them two options, and one of those will usually work for them.
Meticulous Marketing = Lots of Property Deals
I hope you see the common theme in these 7 streams of motivated seller marketing. That is...
It may take more work, upfront, to build a marketing library, phone scripts, motivated seller lead lists, etc. But once you have your systems and procedures in place, you can start handing off responsibilities to team members, who can also save time by using efficient, time-saving technology.
Because, in the end, marketing is essential to a profitable real estate investing business. But it also shouldn’t be taking up a HUGE chunk of your time. Set up your systems, get rolling, and start bringing in the deals.
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