Absentee Owners List Question - Sustainable Marketing

I’m putting together a direct mail marketing strategy and struggling to see how targeting absentee owners is a sustainable long-term strategy. I have MLS access and my search for AO’s is only finding around 100 across 7 blue collar neighborhoods I want to target. I tried Listsource and it finds a few hundred. Am I missing something? It seems like people in other markets are getting lists of thousands. My metro area has a population of about 2 million.

Here’s my search criteria:
-Absentee owner
-2 to 4 beds
-last record date 01/01/1900 - 12/31/2002

Any feedback on targeting owner occupants over the age of 60 with high equity?

It’s not the quantity of your list. It’s the quality.

You would rather send five hundred highly sifted mail pieces to the most likely interested sellers, than send two thousand mail pieces to iffy prospects.

I would suggest you send to the several hundred, and see what happens. Sometimes there just isn’t a lot of prospects.

That said my average response rate seems to be five calls per thousand pieces sent. Since I’ve already screened the mailing list, I know I want the house already, so it’s just a matter of making an appointment with the seller, and presenting him with my offer. Of course I perform my due diligence on the comps before I see the seller.

Meantime, you’re closing rate on any size list, is highly dependent on how well the list is sifted, and how good you are as a negotiator.

Also, listsource doesn’t always keep their abstracting up to date. You MUST contact them and ask them when the last time they abstracted their records, so that you’re not blowing postage on obsolete data.

If your list is just too small, consider expanding the geography beyond seven neighborhoods, and/or the price ranges.

A better option would be to target all the AO in the county within a certain price range.

That all said, I think your territory is way too small to create a critical mass of prospects for anything whatsoever. Just saying.

Why are you limiting yourself to these seven neighborhoods?

Quality over quantity definitely makes sense. That said, I want to determine whether my market has enough opportunity for me to eventually do this full time. I like the idea of targeting AO in the whole county while focusing on a certain price range.

I’m limiting myself to a smaller area b/c this will be my first mailing, I’m inexperienced and I don’t have money to burn. I feel strongly about needing to test everything (copy on mailers, negotiating/scripts, follow up strategy, etc.) before going all-in with a large investment.

Just a noob trying to take action but still mitigate risk!

I’m also planning to “drive for dollars” to look for vacants and run-down properties with the intention of finding my first deal and using the proceeds to fund marketing. Everyone who promotes driving for dollars makes it seem so easy though. Am I just dreaming?

What State/Area are you pulling from?

There is without a doubt something going on. Data extraction software error, filters messed up, incorrect data. I don’t know. But with a population of 2 million in your farm, I would be suspicious if you were even getting only 5,000.

If your only interested in a 7 block area, I suggest you do a door knob hanger campaign.
I buy them blank and run off copies on my printer.
You can easily walk 7 neighborhoods in a few hours,
and it will probably be a lot less expensive than direct mailing.
I buy mine at blankdoorhangers.com Its about $50 for 1500
I also buy ink in bulk and refill my ink tanks.
One word of warning though, several times I paid someone to distribute
my door hangers and they didnt seem to get delivered.
Good Luck, Rando

No, you’re not dreaming.

Driving for dollars is a primary way to kill two birds with one stone, while prospecting on a low budget.

  1. It familiarizes yourself with the farm area…
  1. Provides addresses on prospective properties.

This is basic guerrilla prospecting.

However, even this approach can use some systematization.

We’ve printed maps of the farm, and created routes to follow, so that we drove through every street. We took pictures of each house that attracted our attention; noted the address on a note pad; and created a shorthand description of what interested us in the house. We also stop and tuck a note into as many doors as practical; vacant, or not, that reads, “Want to sell your house? Call Jay at 444-5555.” We’ll get calls before we get home.

We research where the taxes are sent, and the name of the owner and send mail to the named owner at his address. Lots of mail comes back undeliverable, of course. Then it’s a matter of more research. The harder the owner is to find, the more likely we’ll be the only buyer the owner ever talks with.

After we were done, we have a nice portfolio of addresses, photos, and descriptions of the houses we wanted to make offers on. One page per prospect.

Frankly, the shelf life of these deals can still be rather short, so the faster we make and maintain contact with the owners the better.

Follow up is important. Some sellers will save our letters/cards for months. And if we keep our name in front of their eyes, they’ll think of us first when they decide to dump their hell holes (right after the city threatens to fine them for not mowing their lawns; removing weeds; or whatever).

Other sellers will think of us ONLY if we’re regularly sending mail to them. If we stop for two or three months, those sellers that ripen in that time frame, will go to the dance with a different boyfriend, that was sending them mail when we weren’t.

You might want to make a point of including the houses with ‘For Rent’ signs stuck in the windows/yards. These are often-motivated sellers for a variety of reasons, including management headaches, late payments, vacancies, credit losses, lost rents, repairs due, etc.

Don’t forget to ask the sellers that you talk with, if they know of other houses that might be for sale in the area. Get as much information as you can, and include them in your next mailing. It seems like when one owner wants out, he knows someone else that wants out, too.

OK, that’s all I’ve got.