Probate Leads

When going down to my local courthouse, what should I be looking for when going through the latest probate leads. I know to look for the owner, their address and so forth, but the addresses are all over my city. Should I only look at addresses in my farm area, what if a spouse or child has the same address, do I still market to them? I would like any input as to what criteria other investors follow when pulling leads at the courthouse. Thanks!

I have done probates for a few years now, and I love them. Nobody in my city is doing them, and I get really good deals from them. Depending on how big your city is, I would market to all of them. A lot of these people are looking to dump these properties (especially if the executor is from out of state). If it’s outside your farm area, then adjust your offer accordingly so that you can sell it to someone who likes properties in that area and you can still make some money.

When choosing which leads to market to; if there is a spouse that is still alive, I don’t send them a letter. If the executor is living at the address and there are no other siblings, I don’t send them a letter. If it’s a family member that is or isn’t an executor and there are other siblings then I would send a letter b/c that family might want to make the estate liquid, therefore, selling the house.

If the petition doesn’t say for sure if they have any real property, I go ahead and send them a letter. I have gotten 1 house that the petition didn’t say if they had real property or not…

I also hand write the letters and use the executors name at the top, like “Dear Rosa,” and be sure to give the specific address that you are talking about purchasing. This way you don’t look like a mass mailer or something. My letter goes like this:

Hello ______. I’ve noticed that there might be a property for sale at _____________ and you are the person to talk to about it. I would like to make you an offer on the property in as-is condition. Is the property for sale? If so, please call me at __________.

I try to keep it short and sweet. I would be interested in how you do your letters. I seem to get pretty good response from mine, probably around 40% call-backs and I see about 40% of the properties of people who called and probably buy 25% of those. So it is a numbers game for sure.

Hope this helps, let me know of any other questions you have. I love doing probate.

Wow! Thanks so much for your input. I’m new at this probate thing so I really needed your input and I definitely know I will have more questions.

What’s the most efficient way to get probate leads?

Go to the county courthouse and pull up the most recent probates. Write down the information on probates that have real property and send them a mailer.

I have handwritten before. Started years ago with some success. Your numbers are about right as far as success rate is. I got sidetracked working on flips and rehabs that I got away from it. Guess what? I am doing it again! we’ll see what happens.
Hopefully, it’ll keep something in the pipeline.

:help :confused

@mcinvesting - Is that really the text of your letters to probates? I just sent about 60 letters and the text wasn’t quite so succinct. On a 8.5X11 yellow pad my letter took about 2/3 of the page. Is it a fair assumption that the direct approach is more successful?


I have no idea what you are asking me.

I’m not sure what succinct means and not sure what you are pertaining to in regards to the “direct approach”

I don’t check this site very often, PM me if you don’t receive a response.

@mcinvesting - Apologies, I was referring to your July 27th posting where you talked about the contents of your probate letters.

Now as far as “the direct approach” is concerned, I was talking about how short your letter was.

Well I handwrite mine, so I like to keep it short and to the point. I’m not sure if handwriting them does anything, but I try to keep it as personal as possible. Everyone should at least handwrite the mailing address on the envelope.

Being direct, you also perk their interest and they will usually call to figure out how you got their number. So if you explain too much to them then they will feel they don’t need to call you b/c they know everything already… Not sure if that makes sense.

Our approach may not be as effective, but since my handwriting looks like a stroke victim’s, we just type it all out, so the recipient can actually figure out what we’re trying to say.

However, we do sign each letter with a blue Bic pen. (We’ve had prospects literally make a point of mentioning that they called us, because we personally signed the letter they received). Sooo…

We created a probate-letter template and a data base where we merge the executor’s name and the situs address into the letter in order to appear personalized, like mcinvestor suggests doing. This saves a lot of time.

This way we basically enter the mailing information once and then forget it. Plus, we can save the whole merged mailing, including the customized letters and the envelopes, for a future printing/mailing.

We use practically the same wording a mcinvestor uses. So, we would keep it simple and clear and state what we’re after.

It’s been suggested that we include condolences, and what not, to somehow resonate with the recipient’s loss. Frankly, this is a put-off, since we’re insinuating some familiarity with the family… pffft.

Now-dead Bessie’s nephew John just wants his inheritance, and “how fast” we “can get that for him,” is the only issue at this point …not that we’re all broken up over Bessie’s premature departure at 102.

Meantime, we use #10 envelopes, and instead of hand-writing the address, we use 14pt Bookman Old Style for the font and 10pt Arial for the return address.

The fact is, very few people receive white business envelopes with their name printed in typeface on the front that isn’t on a label. If they do, it’s gonna be something important. People don’t throw letters like these in the trash. The first class stamp is a give away that it’s not bulk mail.

After all is said and done the mail piece is distinctive, because it has a first class stamp affixed to the front; does not have a labelled address; and does not contain a bar coded zip.

Also the envelope is as low-budget and thin (see through) as possible. No security envelopes or heavy weight paper. We buy the cheapest looking, flimsy, low-budget envelopes we can find.

Some prefer to use a gift card size envelope. My partner uses these as a rule, but otherwise there’s not much difference in response rate as far as I can tell. My partner will argue differently.


Hey MC & Javipa!

Thanks for all your insight. I especially appreciate your sense of humor Javipa. That part about your handwriting looking like a stoke victim’s… PRICELESS!!! :biglaugh

Now I have been handwriting my letters, and it’s incredibly time consuming. More importantly I’m not 100% sure what I’m writing is getting across to them. Firstly, because my handwriting isn’t the best (although not stoke victim), and secondly the message itself lacked brevity. I only sent about 60 total, but I also only got one response which was a tersely worded voicemail that said… “Please do not contact me anymore about my mother’s estate.” This has not deterred me in any way. I just know now that I should “keep it simple stupid” (a.k.a. the K.I.S.S. principle).

That said I think I’ll start typing & signing them. Less time and I’ll always have a copy to reference my spreadsheet to where I keep track of what I’m mailing. I’ll just have to figure out how to do the mail merge again because it’s been a looooong time.

I do have one other question, what is a “situs address”? Is it the address of the property of the decedent?

Thanks again guys!!



I did a probate by accident last month. My bird dog found this old boarded up house in a small town about 5o miles south. The sellers wud not return our calls and we gave up on it. I went to the islands for the entire winter all paid for from one of my Sub to deals and when I returned, wud u believe it, they call. We agreed on a price of $22,500 and I got a buyer willing to pay 38K. We’ll, it seems it had to go thru probate cuz Aunt Beatrice died and the hiers never did what their supposed to. Anyway, 6 months later the sellers call to say probate has completed and they still want to do the deal. I called the buyer and unbelievable, he still wanted it. 10 days later the bird dog and I were cashing our $7,750 checks. I feel bad cuz after the lawyer fees and taxes and code violations and fees etc the sellers had to pay, the bird dog and I made more money than the 3 sibling heirs.
But, they were happy to get rid of it, the code enforcement was breathing down their necks, they were paying insurance and upkeep, neighbors were complaining about rats and the eyesore and the hazard. Im still sleeping good at night. Rando

I have been sending letters to probate leads for about two months now and have made several offers and so far have gotten one property under contract for 18K and turned around and sold it to a landlord who likes that area for 23K. So I have had some early success. In my county, the records aren’t available online and I don’t think anyone is mining the records on a regular basis so I feel like I’m at an advantage there. I do have a couple of questions.

  1. How do you handle the question that I most commonly get… “how did you find me?” Many of the executors aren’t associated with the property except in probate documents. I don’t really feel comfortable telling them I’m chasing down the property of everyone who has died. So far the way that I have been handling this is by just saying I buy lots of houses and get my leads from many different sources… and hoping it kind of ends there. Any advice?

  2. I have been handwriting the letters just b/c I have the time right now. I have been doing them on yellow legal paper and sending them in invitation sized envelopes. I would like to have a form letter and mail merge and just sign the letters to save time and to see if there is any discernable difference in response rates. However the wording I use which is pretty much the same as MC’s above, looks really really small on the entire page. Anyone have any suggestions on adding any language or should I just leave it the way it is and send it with 80% of the paper blank and the small amount of text towards the top. Any suggestions?

Thanks for all the great info!



You don’t need to be coy or shy about how you found the prospect’s name. It’s a public record.

I’ve had the same issues in the past, and felt the same way.

I think the reason that people ask this, is that they don’t understand the public records. So I just say something along the line that we buy probate real estate (obviously), and anyone who owns real estate shows up on our list of prospects.

On the other hand… brutal honesty in the case of a nit-wit will shut most discussion down in a nano-second.

I’ve explained that…

"We buy probate real estate all over California. Our state publishes every last bit of anyone’s business upon their death. As a result, we know who died, when they died, sometimes how they died, what they owned, what they owed, who they owed, and who survived them. And that’s how we found you.

Otherwise, we just say, "I understand it might seem like an invasion of your privacy, but all real estate records are published by the state, including those who’ve died. And since we’re probate specialists we look for probate property published by the state. And that’s how we found and contacted you. [end of story]

There’s no reason to apologize for being a probate real estate investor. That’s our niche. We’re solving problems for a very specific prospect. And we do it better than any schmuck alive.

Meantime, no, we don’t mention that we’ve been downtown scouring for dead people’s property listed in the probate notices.

That would seem a little too Vulturesque. :anon :evil


Thanks for putting it into perspective!

My pleasure! :biggrin

Hi. Thanks to the OP for posting this topic. It’s something I can use and from the sounds of it, it will be productive.

So I went down to the courthouse this morning and tried what you have suggested. Our county keeps different records in different offices. So I am not sure if I went to the correct office and pulled the correct documents.

I was at the Recorder’s Office. Should I have been at the Family Law division/department or something? Excuse me for my ignorance. I was able to pull one type of documents that looks to be what I should be mining for: Decree Distribution? There weren’t any documents named Probate. In the Decree Distribution, it lists the belongings in the estate and to who/m it has been distributed to and in what portions. I found real property in many and most are free and clear (no creditors). I didn’t notice the address(es) of the new owner(s) though. Maybe I was looking at the wrong document?

This marketing strategy sounds very promising…with some consistent effort.


After some digging, I found that I was looking at the wrong document from the wrong county office. The document I was looking at is filed after everything is said and done in the probate process. Reading more into this niche, I learned that we are to market to the “Personal Representative” during the probate process. :banghead

The probate court of is where I need to look. They asked me to be prepared with the case number or name of deceased. I found some names and case numbers from a Public Notice website. Look for these listings: NOTICE OF PETITION TO ADMINISTER ESTATE OF ***.