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How To Find Motivated Sellers (In 28 Days Or Less)

Published on Tuesday - May 30, 2017

If you want be a successful real estate investor, there may be no more important skill-set than knowing how to find motivated sellers. In fact, if there’s one area that differentiates the struggling investor from the elite redeveloper, it may not be talent, money or personality, but rather a system for finding motivated sellers.

Without a source of motivated seller leads, you’ll waste valuable time trying to convince sellers that parting with their home is a good idea, rather than working with sellers who are passionate about moving forward on a deal.

The challenge many investors have is knowing how to find seller leads that turn into assets they can market to their real estate buyers list. And once you do find those real estate seller leads, how do you convert them into actual deals? (Not just contacts taking up room on your Rolodex.)

Because “time is money” — and speed is one of the most valuable assets an investor can have — here’s a blueprint for how to find motivated sellers in 28 days or less.

Learning How To Find Motivated Sellers

Finding motivated sellers
What makes a seller motivated?

Before we jump into the strategies for finding motivated sellers, we need to define what a motivated seller is, and how they differ from other types of sellers.

A motivated seller is a property owner who can meet at least one of the following conditions:

  • Willing to sell the property at a very favorable price: Usually this means 10-30% below market value.
  • Willing to sell the property at very favorable terms: This includes things like no money down, 0% interest, financing, etc.

Ideally, you want both conditions to apply, but at least one is generally required for someone to be defined as a motivated seller. Real estate leads come in many different forms. The big advantage you have when working with motivated sellers is one of speed. These folks have a compelling reason to sell that property, and understanding that reason (and helping resolve it) is what makes it “possible” to find motivated seller leads in 28 days or less.

Week One: Find The List

As the old marketing expression goes, “The money is in the list.” And for investors wanting to boost their marketing to home sellers, it’s all about finding the right list of motivated home sellers and then sending them marketing pieces — usually in the form of direct mail — that encourages them to reach out to you or your team.

There are many different kinds of lists, and it’s usually a good idea to start with one or two and build out from there, but here are some different kinds of motivated seller lead lists you could acquire and market to:

  • Attorneys (Probate, divorce, estate, etc.)
  • Realtors
  • Absentee owners
  • Out-of-state landlords
  • People who own homes free-and-clear
  • Foreclosures (Both pre- and current)
  • Properties with liens
  • Homeowners in probate

Where do you purchase these targeted lists? There are many companies who specialize in this field, but some of the more common ones include: ListSource, and Z Buyer. Combine these with other segmentation filters, such as zip code or property size, and you’ll have a targeted list of potential seller leads in no time.

Week Two: Create Your Marketing

Once you’ve got your targeted list created, it’s time to create your marketing collaterals. In most cases, this will take longer than seven days to fine-tune. For the purposes of this column, we’ll assume you have the bandwidth to generate three key marketing pieces in a single week. And these pieces include:

  • Your direct mail piece: the postcard, letter, lumpy mail, or brochure you’re going to send would-be sellers
  • Your website squeeze page: Where motivated sellers, who’d like to be contacted, will visit your page and share their contact info
  • Your phone lead-acquisition system: This can be as simple as a Google Voicemail account or as complex as a customer service team

Of the three mentioned, your direct mail piece is the most important. You can always tweak your phone scripts or your website copy as you go, but no leads will materialize unless you get your direct mail pieces connecting with would-be sellers.

It’s a bit beyond the scope of this article to delve into precise direct mail marketing strategies. Just remember that, when in doubt, try to tap into primal emotions, such as greed, guilt or salvation when creating your pieces. Forget boring numbers or stats. Get an emotional response first, and then back it up with logic when trying to convince sellers.

Week Three: Send Your Direct Mail Out (Wait For A Response)

This is actually the lightest week on your 28-day motivated seller lead calendar. Don’t worry, things are gonna ramp up in week four, but this week is where you physically send out your direct mail pieces and wait for a response.

Ordinarily it takes more than one direct mail piece to get a response from a lead. But for the sake of argument, we’ll assume your marketing message is compelling and that your list is targeted and highly-motivated. (A good response rate for direct mail is about 4-5%; so if you send out 250 pieces, you can expect about 12 responses.)

So, how do you send your pieces out?

Well, if you’re a “solo-preneur” with a tight budget, you might have to get your direct mail materials printed and fill envelopes — or mail postcards — yourself. This can be a way to go. But if you have the funds, using a company such as Modern Postcard or Printing for Less can be a great way to free you up to get ready for the next step. Which is…

Week Four: Filter Those Leads

Once those motivated seller leads have started to call your toll-free number, or visited your website, it’s time to schedule a phone call in which you find out as much as you can about the seller and the property.

This includes things like:

  • Why they want to sell
  • How long they’ve lived there
  • How much they’re looking to receive from the sale
  • Where the property is located
  • Who’s on the title
  • What improvements have been made

Your job this week is not to “sell”; your job is to listen and gather information, as well as establish rapport. The more you can help educate a home seller about how the process works, and what they can expect along the way, the more they’ll remember and trust you.

“Seek and ye shall find”

You’ll notice we mentioned very little about “selling” during this 4-week process. Ironically, the more you’re able to segment your list of buyers, provide them with marketing materials that speak to them on an emotional level (and promise a way out of their situation) and talk to them in a conversational way, the more you’ll find the task of learning how to find motivated sellers far easier than you think. (And your only real challenge will be figuring out which seller leads to choose from.)

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