Finding Subject To deals?

Hi Experts,

I am targeting the subject-to market. For those who have had success, please advice on what has worked best for you to get these leads calling you.

Postcards or letter? Please share any sample wording. Also whats the profile of the folks that you are targeting - Foreclosure, Absentee, FSBO … ?

Thanks a bunch for your advice.

You need to find people with problems for Subject To. Absentees have abandoned the house and typically the house is not rentable and you will have to put boatloads of cash into it prior to obtaining your first dollar. When I target these it is for the purpose of a super low ball offer on purchasing the house. If they have tons of liens AND it needs tons of repairs I pass. Not a good subject to in my book since you can’t start making money right off the bat. I don’t like to have a large investment in a Subject To.

For Sale By Owner, I have not tried contacting these people but as you know there is likely not a hardship issue here. I look for problems. Where there are problems is where the good deals are.

Preforclosure is good and the best way to find these people is Craigslist in my opinion. I get 3-4 calls a week from my Craigslist ads. I have done lots of mailings and get good responses as well but they cost me. If you are doing this a letter with a hand written postit on it saying “John, give me a call 000-000-0000.” You will even get people calling you to just say that they aren’t selling right now.

We buy houses bandit signs, a website that will prequalify the people prior to your calling them, and Craigslist ads are a good cost effective combination.

Take a look at my site here for ideas.

Thanks Hooch,
Will take a look at Craigslist as well. That was one avenue I had not considered. You have a good website. How many leads come in from your website?

No one goes to a website unless you drive them there. I only use it as a tool for qualifying sellers so I don’t waste my precious time talking to a bunch of people that are in situations that I don’t want to be a part of.

I get 3-4 people minimum who fill out the form from Craigslist per week. My Craigslist ads drive them to the web. I also get a few per week from my signs which drive them to the web. And if I do a mailing I typically get a 8% response rate (very high due to the postit) and each of them I just have call me directly.

Most deals you get you will not want. You will have to look at a number of deals prior to seeing a good one. To boost the deals you will need to do targeted direct mail (personalized letters and postit) and the signs, and a website, and the craigslist ads.

Many of these people are down and out and don’t particularly like advertising their problems to everyone. It is embarrassing to them that they got into this financial situation and easier for them to just go on the web and fill out your form or listen to a prerecorded message instead of talking to someone directly that they think will probably be trying to take advantage of their financial situation.

These people are on the defensive and giving an easy non confrontational way for them to contact you increases your response. I always also give my phone number but have found that everyone will fill out my form rather than calling me.

I then call them if I am interested.


8% response is a lot, 1-2% is the norm. What kind of content do you have in the letter? I find it hard to imagine that the postit makes such a big difference. Do you hand address the envelope?

Also what message has worked for you on Craigslist? Standard - behind on payments, foreclosure etc?

Actually .5 to 1.5 response is the norm. I own an advertising agency and specialize in increasing the ROI.

The key is making them feel that you are writing to them specifically.

With vacants for example, first of all make sure your list is accurate. I will get a list from the local government of vacant and derelict structures and will delete the ones that say they are presently being worked on.

Then I will drive the low income neighborhoods to add any I see that appear to be vacant that are not on their list. I go to the GIS with their address and get their name and tax address. I then do a data merge in Word to a standard letter that plugs in their name in a place or two and the address that I want to buy so they feel like I typed that letter up for them. Then the postit hand written stuck on the front of the letter so they see it first when they open it up. Warm and friendly. I am just a guy that wants to give them some money. The negotiation takes place later.

I don’t hand address the envelope but data merge it too.

Here is the letter, pretty basic.


I am writing you today regarding your property at, 810 11th Street in Roanoke VA. I’ve
noticed that the property appears to be vacant or it may just need a little extra TLC.
Regardless of the situation I would like to buy it.

There are many reasons why a house will sit vacant. It may or may not be by choice, but
it is almost always a problem for the owner. Unoccupied houses have a tendency to draw
unnecessary attention to themselves. Many times it’s the unwanted attention from
neighborhood kids or others who see it as an opportunity to break out windows or
vandalize the house. Taxes continue to add up and lawn maintenance is a continual cost.

During the winter months, the utilities have to be left on to keep the house in good
condition: otherwise, you shut them off and hope no damage will occur. Furthermore,
unless you change your homeowner’s policy, you may no longer be covered by insurance
if your home is damaged after being unoccupied over 30 days.

Roanoke Cash can provide a variety of solutions to these problems if your house is sitting
vacant. We can buy your house or make arrangements to take over your monthly
payments and maintain the property until we sell it. We even pay off bills to clear your
name if needed.

At the very least give me a call so we can see what is possible. There are no obligations.
You have nothing to loose. So give us a call

We are only buying 3 houses in the next 45 days, so call now to be sure one of them is

Don’t let your house sit vacant another day!

Talk to you soon,

John Doe
Address, email, phone
© 2005

I do this same thing with different letters for all types of hardship situations. Divorce - probate court, frustrated landlord, etc.

This is expensive! Don’t get me wrong. I only do this when I am trying to drum up a house quick. I will send 4 or 5 hundred letters out at a rate of about 100 per week so I have time to look over all of the deals that come to me and don’t waste a bunch of postage when I have a pile of deals to try to make and I can only do one at a time. I also send them out on Thursday so they will get the letter on Friday. The start of the week is not a great happy time for the workin’ man.

As far as cost effectiveness goes, Craigslist is the bomb.
Craigslist ads real estate by owner - We Buy Houses That Need Work
Real Estate Services - - We’ll Buy Your House
Financial Services - - Financial Problems?
Legal Services - Bankruptcy Lasts 10 Years On Your Credit!
Real Estate Wanted - Dear Mr. Landlord. Let Us Buy Your House

That is the type of thing I do on Craigslist.

BTW, anyone does this in my area (Greater Roanoke Virginia) I will sue you for copyright infringement and everything else I can think of. This is to help those outside of my area only.

Is this copyrighted? if not then you can’t sue anyone.

I copyright every single thing I do. Like I said, I own an advertising agency and always have to copyright my clients stuff. When you send a disc in to the USPTO they copyright every single thing on the disc for the same cost so I slip my stuff on it with my clients. I have dealt with the plagiarism of my work on multiple occasions. Mostly plagiarism of my ad copy.

In this particular situation I don’t care if anyone outside my area uses it word for word.

Wow so how long does it take to get something copyrighted?

Typically you will get your certificate from 3-6 months depending on how many they have to do. It doesn’t really matter though because getting it officially copyrighted only adds extra protection. If you put the © symbol on your work no one can use it whether it is officially copyrighted or not.

Getting it officially copyrighted just basically gives you proof for a judge that the date you had it was prior to the date the thief had it. Dates can be proven in many other ways. You can mail the work, writing, photography, music, etc to yourself and do not open it. The unopened postmarked package proves the date as well. Dates on the internet can be confirmed with an internet archive like the way back machine.

It is illegal to reproduce a persons work of art - photography, music, drawing, painting, writing, etc whether you have an official copyright on it or not. The only reason is for proving to the judge that you in fact were the first to have it and that you used the symbol as an indication that you did not want anyone to reproduce it.

If you catch someone, the first thing you do is send them a cease and desist letter which basically indicates your rights to the work and gives them an opportunity to stop or legal action will take place. Many people don’t understand the copyright laws and when they find out that the legal damages allow for as high as $150,000 set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therin and more than 1 year in federal prison per violation, they quickly stop.

To be honest, if the letter doesn’t stop them you will have significant legal fees to take them to court so in this case many people will drop it. You see how the music companies have been handling it. They just send them a bill upfront for a few thousand dollars when catching people stealing music on Peer to Peer software like Limewire. They have recently found that it is costing them more money to take people to court and fight this than they are getting in return so they are wrapping up the cases they have and working deals with the internet access companies where they pay them to shut peoples internet service off that they catch.

Hooch - I really like your website. Very nicely done. But you might want to fix this typo:

We buys houses in any condition…FAST! s/b buy

Well I sent a letter of cease and desist to a person and they told me to shove it… so I did.

Now if someone copies my work, I just send them this link.

It was done Pro Se’ in Federal Court so it only cost me some time and filing fees.

John $Cash$ Locke

LOL!!! :biggrin That’s hilarious. Thanks for letting me know. I never even noticed that and the site has been up for more than a year. I just gave my graphic designer the copy and assumed that he did it correctly. I’ll have to smack him around a little on Monday.

It is illegal to reproduce a persons work of art - photography, music, drawing, painting, writing, etc whether you have an official copyright on it or not. The only reason is for proving to the judge that you in fact were the first to have it and that you used the symbol as an indication that you did not want anyone to reproduce it.

The only reason is for proving to the judge that you in fact were the first to have it and that you used the symbol as an indication that you did not want anyone to reproduce it.

And this is why people will mail inventions, copywriting, music they made, etc to themselves and not open the sealed and postmarked package.

Firstly find people, and write them specifically.


Can you explain in more detail as to how you find the people? What are the metrics you use to target the people? Also do you send out letters or postcards?