Creative Marketing

I’m direct mailing to folks in preforeclosure.

Anyone have any creative ways to make their envelopes stand out from everyone else’s envelopes to increase the chance of them getting opened rather than thrown out with the rest of bunch?

have you tried postcards?
they don’t need to be opened…

Have you tried marketing to people not wrapped up the foreclosure process so your not in with the “Bunch”

The two best deals I’ve ever done were from people who didn’t have any money problems. I find them easier to negotiate and deal with because there seems to be less people clamoring to get in the door and their often a more sophisticated seller.

Everyone seems to think that you need to find a desperate seller but I’ve found the more sophisticated the seller the better the transaction…at least for properties that you are going to hold.


I’m with Terri. There are many homes out there with willing sellers who are not in trouble financially but need to move for personal reasons, job transfer, military, school, etc. I like to keep it simple.

Da Wiz

How would you find such people? Are they usually FSBO?

That’s a good start. Also check

Da Wiz

If you want to stand out and mail to preforeclosure, try They’ve got every conceivable type envelope available. I would suggest either the ones that look like priority mail, invitation style (no one doesn’t want an invitation to something), or pastel colors (yellow works best this time of year). You might also consider a patriotic theme, since July 4th is around the corner.

If you want to branch out away from pre-foreclosures (and I suggest you do both. Never put all your eggs in one basket) try expired or active listings, or,, or any of the FSBO-type sites. These are folks that you know for certain are selling their house so you aren’t just mailing to a neighborhood with your fingers crossed.

Big Cheese

I’ll join in with the concensus, branch out. Nearly every house I’ve ever bought was either vacant or in the process of becoming vacant (seller had already bought another home, or tenants were moving out).

I’ve had houses sit vacant for a bit while marketing them and even for a professional it’s not a pleasant situation. Imagine how stressful it is for Sam and Stacy Seller! Owners of vacant properties tend to become very motivated to do “something” to get that monkey off their back, even if they can technically afford the payments, nobody wants to make payments on a vacant property for long.

If you have MLS access or a good realtor you can easily run a search for vacant houses. Getting soon-to-be vacant houses is another story though.

Doug gave excellent advice. Vacant homes have been a source of excellent income.

Da Wiz

I have done some driving around and saw quite a few houses with boarded up windows. So, I got the address, the name of the owners and tried mailing the place hoping to get a forwarding address. Out of the 5 vacant properties that I have mailed to, all of them has come back with no forwarding address and undeliverable.

  1. How do I get a hold of these people?
  2. How do I find out how long the property has been vacant?

Personally I don’t deal with abandoned properties. I prefer pretty vacant houses. Good candidates for these are houses that start off overpriced. Often by the time the seller realizes they have to reduce the price, interest in the property has waned. Then if they become motivated enough the price drops to a point where retail buyers start thinking something must be wrong it.

Usually the houses I buy haven’t been vacant for long, maybe a few months at the most.

I see. I didn’t know to differentiate “vacant” and “abandoned”. So a vacant property would be like the seller’s investment property that is no longer being rented out.

And I can find these on either craigslist, newspaper or where else?

Yes, previous investment properties are one. A few more:

  • Seller built or bought and their old house hasn’t sold
  • Inheritance
  • Recently married. They each owned a home before and now they’ve moved into one house so they’re selling the other.

FSBOs don’t usually advertise the fact that their property is vacant or will be soon. So you have to talk to them and find out if they’ve bought another home, or if they’re waiting for this one to sell first.

Realtors on the other hand, include the occupancy status in the MLS listing. A quick search will turn up all the vacant homes listed by realtors.

Now that the market is begininng to soften here, I’m also getting out there and starting to build relationships with successful listing agents so they will contact me when one of their listings is about to become vacant.

Keep in mind that when dealing with agents you have to be prepared to pay their commission upfront on behalf of the seller. It’s all fine and good to ask the seller to wait for their money, but it’s quite another thing to ask the agent to wait for theirs. If you don’t pay the agent upfront then you won’t get many (if any) referrals.

I’m thinking you’re asking about the difference between vacant and abandoned. Vacant (to me) is just a house that no one lives in but is not in terrible disrepair. Like someone just moved recently or it’s a second home. Abandoned (again, to me) is a house that is in dire need of repair and rehab. The owner is more difficult to find (no forwarding address) and requires a little detective work.

To find abandoned home sellers, I’ve used or On another recent post, someone suggested I haven’t used them yet, but was told that they give more info than for cheaper. gives the phone numbers of sellers for $.25 (one quarter).

Big Cheese

vacant rental homes are also a great lead into seller financing. You can pay them what rent would be but they no longer have to worry about the property. Almost any chance I get for a seller note I’m jumping on it.


The reality of direct marketing to foreclosures is that mailings get a terrible response. You need to build trust with the seller and you really can’t do that with postcards. With that said, I currently have a property under contract that I got from a seller who called from one of my postcards. You will get some calls, but not as many as you want. And when they do call, they have their guard up big time. Definitely send multiple times. Same message or different, doesn’t matter. One time mailings are a total waste.

What works best, for me anyway, is calling them and trying to help them out. I will actually tell them what is best for their situation, even if it means I do not buy their house. If they want to keep their house and try their other options (workouts, refinance, etc.) and it turns out they MUST sell their house, who do you think they will call? You because you tried to help them. Feels good too.