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Have you heard of the mobile app called DealMachine?
The idea behind this app is to make it as easy as possible to contact property owners so you can make them an offer to buy their real estate.
However, when you have a specific geographic location or uses in mind for the properties you want to buy, and it doesn't make sense to send to contact thousands of owners at a time, driving for dollars (whether you're doing it virtually or on-location) can make a lot of sense.
If you've ever tried to find and contact the owner of a specific property directly, you probably know there are many inefficient ways to track down this contact information to start a conversation. There is a real need for software to make this process easier, whether a real estate investor wants to reach a property owner via mail, email, text, or a good old-fashioned phone call.
The Old Way
For the longest time, I had no reliable way of finding a property owner's phone number or email address. Especially in the early years of my career, I didn't even know there were resources (like BeenVerified and Spokeo) that could assist with this.
The best I could do was find the property owner's mailing address (by looking up their information on the county website or with a service like DataTree), so I could send them a letter and hope they would respond to me.
- Sending out mail to the owners of specific properties hand-picked by you.
- Tracking down all the available contact information of a property owner (e.g., mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers).
Of course, there are many ways to do this, but when you compare this app to all the other direct mail services and people-finding websites, the biggest differentiator is how it is designed and intended to be used.
When a real estate professional downloads this app to their phone, they can drive to the physical location of the property, snap a picture and send the owner a pre-written postcard (which includes a photo of their property in a prominent position on the card), asking them to call if they're interested in selling.
Here's an example of what these mail pieces can look like:
With a little creativity, anybody can write a catchy message with a font that looks like handwriting (and probably doesn't fool anybody)… but I think the real power and uniqueness behind this kind of postcard from DealMachine is the picture.
Most people can recognize a piece of junk mail pretty quickly, but when someone sees an actual picture of their house, that's a little harder to ignore, and there's a good chance it's going to pique their interest more than all the other “noise” in their mailbox.
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I've seen a lot of gimmicky websites and software over the years, but there aren't many that have been designed as well and as intentionally as DealMachine is for real estate investors.
To summarize, the DealMachine App has two key value propositions:
- This app makes it effortless to send a targeted mail piece to a property owner… it's so easy; a first-grader could do it.
- If you're trying to locate a person's whereabouts and contact details, it pulls this information from multiple data sources to provide you with several different contact points (alternative mailing addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers).
I even tried using this app on a few of the properties I own, so I could verify the accuracy of the contact info it provided, and it really works!
Granted, there are times when it provides an email address or phone number that is old, outdated, or simply inaccurate, but that's how every skip tracing service works. Even though some of the data may lead to a dead end, at least one of the correct phone numbers, email addresses, or mailing addresses should be correct, so theoretically, if you ALWAYS utilize EVERY piece of contact it gives you, you have a pretty good chance of eventually reaching the owner in one way or another (and whether the owner responds is another matter entirely… but that's beside the point of this review).
DealMachine gets data updates daily, it can pull information on all properties in the US, and it will even indicate the likelihood of whether you'll be able to find skip tracing results, it will say Very likely (Blue checkmark), Likely (Green checkmark) or Not Likely (Gray checkmark) to connect when you hover over the check marks.
The Image Matters
If you choose to send out postcards with DealMachine, I'll draw your attention to one VERY important part of using the app.
For your mail piece to look right, you (or someone on your team) must get on-site to snap a picture of the property OR find a picture somewhere else (e.g., Google Street View or the municipal records) and upload it via your phone.
The picture you include on each postcard is a BIG component of what makes this type of mail piece work because it provides proof that the sender was there, at the property, and they mean business.
If no picture is included, the mailer can still work, but it won't look quite right and be nearly as effective (because the DealMachine postcard template provides the right amount of space for an image to be included).
What I Liked
If you're in the business of sending out this kind of direct mail marketing, there's a lot to like about this app. Here's what I liked the most:
- It's extremely easy to find the information and send the mail. No, seriously – it's REALLY easy.
- For what it's designed to do, the app works very well (as is evidenced by its 4.8-star rating in the iOS app store out of over 4K ratings). The GPS functionality is naturally intuitive and easy to work with.
- It's very easy to get the picture integrated into your mail piece and to preview the mail before it gets sent.
- When I had questions for the app developers, the customer support on their website was very responsive and helpful.
- It is SUPER easy to set up recurring mail to a specific address (maybe too easy… my account was set up to send recurring mail to each recipient by default).
- The price isn't bad for what it can do ($59/mo, + 0.64 per postcard and 0.17 per skip trace). Especially if you plan to use it regularly to find deals, you could easily spend more on services that aren't optimized nearly as well for real estate professionals.
What I Didn't Like
- As a land investor, I wish there was an easier way to add new properties even when a property doesn't have a registered address (because most vacant lots don't have a street address to go by). I'd love to see the ability to identify properties by parcel number, coordinates, or even by the property owner's name. That said, I understand this is a lot to ask because this app wasn't created specifically with land investors in mind.
In my conversations with Oak Andrews, Partnership Success Manager at DealMachine, he says that people have been getting a deal for every 300 properties they add and send mail to in mid-sized cities, which they've been pretty happy with in the current market. It can be up to 600 properties in larger cities and as high as 1,200+ in the hottest of markets (keep in mind, at the time of this writing, the US real estate market is about as competitive as ever).