How I Find Motivated Sellers (And Get Them Calling Me). Step 1: Getting The List


If you want to succeed in real estate, the number one priority is for you to find motivated sellers and lots of them.

If you can’t do this, then the rest of this process isn't even worth talking about, because this whole game begins and ends with your ability to find sellers who will accept your low offers and play by your terms.

What Is A “Motivated Seller” Anyway?

In my mind, a “motivated seller” is a property owner who is willing to do at least one of the following things:

  • Sell their property for a VERY low price (when I say low, I mean REALLY low. Think somewhere in the neighborhood of 10% – 30% of market value)
  • Sell their property with VERY flexible terms (i.e. – we’re looking for a seller who will finance the property for you, require no money down, and charge 0% interest)

Obviously, these types of sellers will have to agree to a pretty ridiculous offer. They’ll have to sell their property almost entirely on your terms and in your interests. Things that, in theory – no sane person would ever be willing to do.

If you want to make your next real estate investment a “sure thing”, you need to be in the position where you have virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain. The seller, on the other hand, needs to be in a position where they are willing to lose everything and walk away from their property with very little or nothing to show for it.

I know it sounds crazy. It might even sound impossible… but I’m going to explain to you exactly how I find these sellers on a regular basis and get them calling ME, asking me to buy their property for whatever price I feel like paying.

If you’re skeptical, I understand. I realize this may sound too good to be true. After all, who would ever agree to such outrageous terms like this?  Are there really deals like this to be had out there?  Are there actual property owners who will sell their property for next-to-nothing?

The answer is a resounding YES.

Step 1 – Getting The List

It all starts with your ability to find a targeted list of property owners who are highly motivated to sell.

Let me reiterate, we are NOT looking for just any list of property owners. We are looking for a very specific demographic of people who (statistically speaking) are much more likely to sell their property than the average property owner.

There are several different ways to go about getting these lists, and depending on what areas of the United States you're working in, some methods can work better than others.

Option 1: Working with the County

GARAGEIn most of the markets where I've worked, my #1 preferred method is to get this list directly from the county.

What I'm looking for specifically is the county's delinquent tax list. This is a list that every county has, and it contains a GOLDMINE of information that can help you track down some of the most highly motivated sellers in that area (for more information on how to get your hands on this list, I explain it in great detail in this blog post).

Working directly with the county has its pros and cons.

The biggest benefit is that the data is as fresh and as accurate as it will ever be because it's coming directly from the county's database in real time. This is an important point – because working with current and accurate data is CRUCIAL when doing a direct mail campaign. Without it, you could end up wasting a lot of time and money on mail that doesn't reach the right people (which can be detrimental to your results in every subsequent step in this process).

The downside is that many counties can be very difficult to work with. Some of the lists these counties provide (assuming you can get them at all) can present some MAJOR hassles when it comes to sorting and organizing them. It's not impossible (and in some cases, the county's lists are fairly easy to work with), but there are definitely some counties around the country that make this a very cumbersome, time-consuming process.

Option 2: Working with a Data Provider

real estate dataAnother way to get this list is to order your list from a real estate data service.

There are MANY different data companies that will provide these lists in a very clean, workable format. Some are expensive, others are relatively cheap. Some are very good at generating certain types of lists, others great at generating lists for other purposes. None of them are perfect in every way, but if you know what types of property owners you're looking for – there's probably a solution out there somewhere.

I put together a comprehensive comparison of several of the data services in this blog post, so be sure to check it out if you're not sure who to work with.

In the earlier years of my investing career, I worked with a company called AgentPro247 to get these lists. The primary benefit of this service was that it was relatively inexpensive to get access to these lists, and they were a great resource for property research.

Here's a quick overview on how the system works:

Note: If you decide to subscribe to this service, be sure to use Partner ID code: CFGRSH for a permanent 10% discount.

Keep in mind that all of this information is of public record. You or I could literally look up any of these properties in a matter of minutes and find this kind of basic information.

The downside to AgentPro247 was that some of the counties in their database (particularly, the ones in more rural areas) had data that was outdated and/or incomplete. For this reason, I found it wasn't always the best solution in every county, but where it does work, it can work wonders.

As you can probably imagine, this data is used by many different people and companies to create bulk mailings. If you've ever gotten a piece of junk mail before, chances are – they found your name and information from this kind of information database that contains these public records.

Why Direct Mail Works

Most direct mail campaigns are not very effective. Why? Because a lot of direct mail marketers send out hundreds of thousands of mailers on a regular basis with very little targeting criteria. For most of these people, a 1% response rate is generally considered “successful” (and I consider it “pathetic”).

We are going to be much smarter. You see – the goal isn't to have a massive number of recipients. The goal is to have quality recipients. If we want to get a higher response rate (and thereby, make our mail campaign more worthwhile), this will only happen by obtaining a quality list.

As mentioned in the video above, AgentPro247 allows us to pick out specific types of properties and owners on a number of different levels. By doing so, we can put together a direct mail campaign that will get a MUCH better response rate than 1%.  On average, my response rates are usually in the 5% – 10% range (and even higher on occasion).

It is very important to have current information and the right recipients on your list. If you don't apply any narrowing (or if you're working with outdated information), you'll end up wasting a lot of time and money.

With this in mind, I like to target my lists based on a few key characteristics:

Property owners who live out-of-county (or out-of-state)

People who live out-of-state tend to be much more disconnected and disengaged from their investment properties. Many of these people had to move away unexpectedly and for whatever reason, they just don't care about their property. These people have a vested interest in liquidating as soon as possible.

Property owners who don't live at their property (absentee owners)

For obvious reasons, people are much more likely to part with an investment property than they are with their personal residence. Don't expect people to sell you the roof over their head for pennies on the dollar – it usually won't happen.

Property owners who have owned their property for 10 years or longer

On occasion, I like to sort my lists with this criteria because properties that have been owned for a longer period of time have a much higher likelihood of being owned free and clear. When properties are owned free and clear, the owner has more equity to play with, which gives them more freedom to sell their property at a HUGE discount.

Property owners who have delinquent taxes

Many of these owners are at the end of their rope financially. They literally don't have the time or money to wait for a higher offer. If they don't sell the property to you, they will lose everything to tax foreclosure. Of course, you'll have to take care of the taxes once you buy it – but these delinquencies will oftentimes give you a lot of leverage to make a low-ball offer.

Properties that are in the right price range

If you're not interested in buying a million dollar property, then don't solicit people who own these properties. It's that simple. If you have the ability to screen out the properties that are clearly out of your price range to begin with, then do it! You'll only be wasting postage if you mail to property owners that you never intend to purchase from.

As you can imagine, there are many other philosophies and methods with which you can sort your lists (and I'd encourage you to test out some of your own methods as you see fit), but these are the most common sorting methods that I've seen used throughout the industry.

Direct mail certainly isn't free, but when it's done right – it works. There is no better way that I know of to reach a targeted audience in a short period of time. If you haven't tried direct mail yet – I'd encourage you to give it a shot. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Got Your List?Click Here for Step 2!

Got Your List Sorted?Click Here for Step 3!

1/9/16 UPDATE: This post has been up for a few years now and I haven't heard any real “negative” feedback. However, I have heard of various cases of investors who have tried this list-pulling method and haven't gotten a good response rate.

Unfortunately, this is a risk inherent in any direct mail campaign. There can be a lot of potential reasons why this happens and it usually depends on a couple of key factors:

Key Problem #1

One problem may be due to the area you are trying to send your mail to. Some states and counties have some very old and/or bad information that they make available to the public. I've found that this usually happens in counties that are VERY rural, because they don't have the tax revenue to keep a solid public records system. When a county doesn't provide good data, this means that the data available from services like AgentPro247 won't be any better. When our list data isn't current or accurate, it usually translates into a much lower response rate (because at the end of the day, we aren't reaching the right people).

One way to verify that you're working with current and accurate data in the AgentPro247 system is to verify the date it was last updated (this is a good practice before you use ANY data from the AgentPro247 system). Here's how you can do it…

And generally speaking, it's not a bad idea to do a test run whenever you're trying to break into a new market. Send out 100 – 200 mail pieces in the new area you're trying to work and see what kind of response you get.

Do this BEFORE you blast out of the gate with 1,000+ mailers. If your response rate is terrible, you should be able to quickly determine that the lists in AgentPro247 cannot perform adequately in this area (and you'll figure this out before you invest a fortune into a lousy campaign).

Key Problem #2

Another problem could simply be the way you are narrowing down your list. For example: are you filtering out the owner-occupied properties? Are you choosing only tax-delinquent owners? Have you specified the property type you're looking for? Have you specified the market value of the properties you're looking for? Are you eliminating all the duplicates on your list? Are you getting rid of the properties without addresses? Are you filtering all the junk out of your list?

It's important to screen out as many of these “unwanted” properties as possible, because if you're blasting out mail to just anybody – a lot of your recipients won't be in a position where they need to sell now. This means a lot of them won't call you, and the ones who do won't be willing to play by your terms (which is simply unacceptable).

It all starts with specifying very clearly who you're going after because those are the people you'll end up doing business with.

Other problems that can hurt your response rate:

These issues are usually less influential, but they can have an effect on the results you see in a mail campaign:

  • What kind of mail are you sending out (is it the optimal color, size, type, etc.)?
  • What are you saying in your postcard/letter? Do your words move your recipients to respond?
  • How are you fielding your responses? Are you answering calls directly, routing them to voicemail, directing them to a website?
  • If you're routing them to a voicemail system, what does your voicemail message say?

If you're experiencing a consistently bad response rate – it's probably because of one or more of the things listed above. Without knowing the specifics of your situation, my initial suggestion would be to make sure you're working with current data (no more than one-month-old), try sending mail to a few different areas and/or tweak your “list filtering criteria” a bit (Problems #1 and #2 above).

Lastly – if you think you've done everything perfectly and you're still not getting the response rate you want out of your target area (and if you don't want to target a different county or state on AgentPro247), you may have to go directly to the county to get your lists.

Fair Warning: This method is usually more expensive & cumbersome to do – BUT if you're finding that AgentPro247 simply isn't producing accurate data in your area, you can usually circumvent this problem altogether if you're able to get this information directly from the county (and it's usually worth the trouble in the end). I've got a very detailed blog post that explains exactly how to do this – you can click here to read more about it.

Free Webinar With Seth and Jaren

You are invited to an exclusive webinar with Seth Williams and Jaren Barnes on Wednesday, October 24 at 8:00pm EDT (5:00 PDT).

Jaren will be hosting a live presentation addressing some of the most critical elements involved with finding deals and motivated sellers in the land business.

In this live webinar, you’ll get the scoop on how to choose the right market, how motivated sellers think, where to find them and what to say ( including some of the best tips, tricks, stories and lessons you’ll need to know as you start pursuing cheap land deals on your own). You won’t want to miss it!

Space is limited, so register now to hold your spot!

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About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner, with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  • Gary Herd says:

    Seth,

    Thanks for all the great content. Once I get a list together, I’ll start buying some of your “starter kits”. I had a question on AgentPro247. I don’t think the PartnerID CFGRSH brings up the Bronze package anymore. Can you confirm?

  • Angela says:

    Why not just get the buyer to pay you for the assignment, in which case you’re out of it, with the buyer now having the deal with the seller–and avoid bringing the deal to a closing agent? Also, when you tell the seller he’ll get full price–are you getting the buyer to pay for the closing costs?

    • Seth Williams says:

      You could certainly take that approach, and many do… though there can be some obstacles and challenges with that approach that most likely wouldn’t be there if you just bought it outright and sold it when the right buyer came along.

      I’m not sure what you mean buy telling the seller he’ll get “full price” – because this isn’t something I do (because I buy properties at a fraction of market value). As a result of sending out such low offers, I generally offer to pay all the closing costs, and that’s how I can get a lot of sellers to go along with such a low offer in the first place (because I’m making it easy for them and paying all of the incidental costs for them). Does that make sense?

  • Caleb Luketic says:

    I definitely want to hire a VA after reading all this haha. That definitely is a ton of work, but I think it could be worth it in the end. I also have a solid website that I use to increase leads with SEO and all of that. It really does work.

    • Seth Williams says:

      I can’t blame you Caleb. 🙂 Though I will say, even if you don’t do all of this work yourself, there is real power in understand the process and which variables get the right kinds of results.

      Thanks for reading!

  • Dylan Huber says:

    hi seth, looking for some tips…after the mail is sent to my list once i receive a call from a motivated seller what are some good questions that i need to include in our conversation? it would be nice if i could find a template somewhere that would show me what i need to ask in order to have an efficient, successful call. feel free to email me if you have time. thank you.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Dylan – absolutely, I’ve got a blog post for that! Check out this link, I think you’ll find it helpful: https://retipster.com/when-seller-calls-ask-right-questions-prospects

      • Dave McEvoy says:

        Hi Seth I just got my county tax delinquent list yesterday. It has nearly 2,500 addresses. I deleted some that are now owned by the county, business, land fills (yes there were a few). The list doesn’t have how many years they owe but the amounts. I’m thinking of targeting the addresses with rather large amounts ($25k or so) since I can’t see how late they are and that coming up with those large amounts is probably impossible. Do you have a yellow letter template or something I could follow for some motivating language??? thanks a lot

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Dave, totally! Check out this blog post or this blog post for some examples on what you can say in your mailers.

          As for the delinquent tax balances – just be careful those balances aren’t too high (sometimes those amounts can eat into your profit margin and be a deal killer). Usually, as long as an owner is delinquent AT ALL – that’s a good enough indication to me that they’re probably quite motivated to sell… whatever that’s worth. Good luck!

          • Dave McEvoy says:

            Thanks a lot. My rationale for the higher amounts are some pekple, including myself, have $12k or more in property taxes per year and may be just one year behind. So using the higher amounts leads me to believe they are at least two years. I’m even thinking of an equity split to entice them more, say 80/20% when sold. I’m checking realtor and Zillow to get rough estimates on value as well so there is good room for profit. Not going to buy a property with a $40k tax bill if the house is worth $80k. Thanks for the help again.

      • Dylan Huber says:

        thank you so much! ive enjoyed this blog very much, definitely will be bookmarked on my computer!

  • kalif alder says:

    Hey whats up seth, had a quick question. Do the delinquent tax lists contain owners with 100% equity in their properties?
    I just finished reading a book by sean terry and he talks alot about targeting sellers with little to no equity, but that process seems more complicated. Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.
    Thanks.

  • Reginald Guercin says:

    hi seth, so i’ve read almost your entire blog. the INFORMATION on your blog is very good. i feel like im getting the right support EVERYTHING i read another blog of yours. Thank you!
    so i started my venture with wholesaling properties and i have set up my business ENTITY, got a logo, ordered business cards, i’m even going to use your postcard template which i appreciate, i will purchase the postcard soon.
    i’m ready to sign up for agentpro247 with the promocode you provided, but im stuck and need some help with choosing the subscription. today is saturday so they are close as well as tomorrow. from your experience what is the best plan to choose? profile package, or gold pakage?
    for what i am doing; i want to start with direct mail market. is the profile package good for that or is the gold betterf. i need a better understanding of just those 2 plans. Thank you in advance!

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Reginald – that’s great to hear, thanks so much for the kind words!

      Personally, I’m working with the Profile Package right now, because it allows me to research up to 50 properties per month, and I don’t pull a ton of lists from AgentPro247 these days (and even when I do, I can pull up to 1,000 leads per month, which is still pretty good)… however, if I needed more lists and/or filtering options, the Gold package would probably be appropriate.

      Hope it helps!

      • Kevin says:

        What is the agentpro247 promo code please?

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Kevin – you can use Partner ID code: CFGRSH for a permanent 10% discount.

          • Andrew Franzen says:

            Hi Seth,
            Hopefully you get this! I’m not sure if Agent Pro switched how they work their memberships or not, but I’m looking to sign up on their site now. The profile package shows 20 profiles per month but says nothing about being able to pull lead lists…is this a hidden feature?

            I see the Gold package shows 500 leads per month at $50 which is fine for me but I was wondering that came with the ability to pull a full profile on an address (we use that from time to time on our other lead site)? Or would I have to purchase both packages to accommodate this?

            Really appreciate the help, keep up the great work!

          • Seth Williams says:

            Hi Andrew – yeah, AP247 made a pretty major change to their pricing a few months ago. It’s not nearly as inexpensive as it once was (though it still is cheaper than most comparable services on the market right now).

            If you wanted both of those things – then yes, my understanding is that you’d have to sign up for both.

            The higher price is a bummer, I know – but if you’re really going to use the data, it should still serve you well.

            Best of luck!

  • gus says:

    Can’t confirm my subscription.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Gus – sorry for the trouble. I just checked and verified that you are indeed on the list. Thanks for subscribing!

  • Adam says:

    I finally got my list. I had it cleaned up so I could sort it. I have it narrowed down to land parcels only. However, the levy due can be kind of confusing. I see a lot of really low numbers such as $1 through $100 owed in back taxes. Is that normal or did I get the wrong list? I feel like sending letters to these people won’t be worth it because they can easily come up with the money. I guess my question has more to do with how do I understand how much taxes are due and are they worth pursuing?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Adam – without seeing your list, it’s hard to give you any clarity on what you’re looking at. If you’re not sure if the list is accurate, you can cross-check the information by looking up a few of the properties individually on your county website (or give the county treasurer a call) to verify if your list has the correct amount of back taxes owing.

      As for the amount owing… in many cases, if there is ANY amount owing, it’s already a sign that the property is becoming a nuisance for the owner and they want it out of their life (if it wasn’t such a problem, they’d just pay it off already). Of course, this isn’t always the case – but when I see a delinquent amount owing, whether it’s $1 or $5,000 – it’s usually a much better sign of motivation than someone who has no back due taxes owing at all… just a trend I’ve noticed.

  • Christopher Cronin says:

    Great read/videos. Newbie here, taking tons of notes on your blog posts. I’m considering jumping in and getting an AgentPro247 membership, but I don’t see an option for the BRONZE membership. Looks like they got rid of it. Do you have any advice for someone who thought the bronze membership seemed like a perfect fit, like me?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Christopher – try going back to the sign up page, enter in Partner ID CFGRSH and you should see the bronze option appear.

      • Christopher Cronin says:

        I really appreciate the quick response! As I mentioned, I’ve been doing tons of reading from your posts. I was wondering if you could either answer my question here or point me towards a post where you may have covered this:

        I have been reading and taking notes on your Guide to Wholesaling (sorry I forget the actual title), reading every post, and following all of the blue underlined links to read further on the topics. I feel like there is something missing that I can’t seem to grasp after reviewing my notes. Let’s say you find a motivated seller from a mail campaign, and they are truly interested in selling you their home (allowing you to put their home under contract). If you talk to them on the phone or email and they express their interest, what comes next? I’ve read the posts about making an offer, Purchase Agreement summary, etc., but what I’m wondering is, are you setting something up after the initial reach out from the seller? Are you setting up a meeting where you then explain to them what it is you will be doing? Or is what your Wholesaling Process posts entail, that you are skipping the face to face meet and conversation and replacing it with an email or letter that jumps right into an offer? In my head I’m imagining a meet and greet where seller and wholesaler discuss a potential deal, and then an offer would come afterwards, but I don’t see any mention of that in your posts. To wrap things up I guess what I’m saying is I’m confused about the “offer” stage. Once a seller has reached out to you, I want to know the common steps that take place in between the phone call/email where they initially reach out to you & when you either hand, email or send a letter of the actual three paged offer to the seller. If there is no post on this and you don’t feel like answering such a long answer, I completely understand haha, just thought I’d give it a shot.

        I’m considering purchasing some of your packages for the purpose of not only speeding up my wholesaling endeavor, but also to be more prepared for the steps ahead. I’d also just like to thank you for the effort you’ve put towards helping people, man, it truly is awesome.

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Christopher – that’s a great question. I typically explain the process either in an email or over the phone (you could do it in person too, but I’ve found that’s a much less efficient way to get deals done quickly). Check out this blog post, and look closely under “Step 2: Explain Your Intent & Get the Contract Signed“. That’s where you can find the exact language I would put in an email to the seller (or alternatively, you could explain the same concept over the phone).

          Does that make sense? If you still need more clarification, let me know.

          Good luck!

  • David Wells says:

    I saw your video on using AgentPro 247 a few years back. I used the service. I got some good results. I find that most of the same sellers are on Listsource though, but Listsource doesn’t have a delinquent tax selection like AgentPro. The only problem was the delinquents were a year behind. I mailed them anyway and kinda liked it. For $20 a month, you can’t really go wrong. Thanks for sharing.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Thanks David! I know what you mean – AgentPro247 isn’t the perfect solution in all markets, but where it does work, it can be extremely convenient and effective (and the price is really hard to beat).

      I think ListSource can be a viable alternative, but like anything – it has it’s pros and cons. Unfortunately, I don’t think any data service is the perfect solution everywhere.

  • anthony says:

    Hi Seth,
    First, thanks for putting this information together for us.
    I tried to using agentpro and there is literally no data for me to utilize in my counties (which are very large suburban counties). Filtered, absentee and out of state owners / SFR / and distressed taxes yes. No additional filtering other than my state and counties. Do you know of another source with similarly reliable information?

  • william smith says:

    Hi seth. Is is true that you can wholesale a property without using your own money. I have a friend that claims that he finds properties, then sell it to an investor for more than the seller wants it for because the investor doesn’t know the cost but still looks at as an good investment?

  • christine says:

    Hi Seth,
    Would you recommend mailing a post card or letter to delinquent tax owners? How would you word it? Thank you so much.
    Christine

  • Luis O says:

    Got the list from the county.

    The list comes in a very wierd format and with missing data critical for mailing the owners. Do you use and pay a company to convert into usable data after paying the county to give tou the list?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Luis, there are people on sites like Fiverr who can do this kind of work for you – yes.

      As for the missing data, did you tell the county upfront what needed to be included on the list? If so, they should be able to give you what you asked for (and if not, they shouldn’t be taking your money).

      That being said… some counties do have some pretty bizarre list formats. They can almost always be salvaged, but some take much more work than others. It can definitely be a pain, but it’s also definitely worth the effort in the end when you start getting paid.

  • Tom Busch says:

    Hi Seth,

    In the video, how do you know you are searching just land and not houses too? Is it based on the type of subscription or list you buy from AgentPro247?

    Thanks,

    Tom

  • Cameron Fox says:

    Seth,

    What is your success rate using Agent Pro vs pulling the lists directly from the county? About how many man hours on average does it take to get the “county pulled” list up to the legibility agent pro delivers instantly. I ask because it seems like the county option is better for delivering results. $18 really isn’t a lot but I want to make the absolute best use of my time. Great blog. Thanks,

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hey Cameron – this is a great question. Honestly, if my primary concern is reliability (and it usually is), I’ll go with the county every time.

      Granted, it DOES take a bit more time, money and effort to get these lists up to par (usually at least a couple of hours, depending on the size and complexity of the list), but it’s always worth the effort in the end, rather than “wondering” if I’m working with the right information in the first place.

      AgentPro247 works most of the time, but the county list works ALL of the time.

  • Brian says:

    Started reading your blog recently, and it looks like some good stuff! I am thinking about trying to buy land, the way you do, to build some capital for buying rental properties. I am having trouble generating a good size list or prospects. I picked a county on agent pro, selected the category of vacant land, and tax delinquent…. 2 results. Tried a different County, 0. Another County, 3 results. How do you search for vacant land using agent pro to get a decent list size?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Brian, you may have hit a county in AgentPro247 that just doesn’t isn’t able to pull good data from the original source (this happens from time to time, and can be very annoying – I know). If you’re dealing with this, I’d suggest that you either:

      a. Try pulling your list from a different county
      b. Try getting your list directly from the county

      Honestly – option b is probably going to be your best bet in the end (though it usually takes a bit more work to do it this way).

  • Billy Rogers says:

    Seth,
    I’ve been fascinated with your approach since I first heard you on the BP podcast. I finally got the courage to try this about a month ago. I got a list from AgentPro247 and sent out 70 letters. I think about a third of them came back because the owner no longer lived at the address that was on the list. I probably had 6 or 7 people contact me and I finally closed on one deal. It’s a $5,000 lot that I got for $425 and there are $600 in taxes owed – so about an 80% discount. My plan is to sell the property with owner financing. I’m currently researching the details of how to set up the contract and loan servicing. I think next time I will get my list directly from the county if possible so that I can get the amount of taxes owed because some of the people had back taxes that amounted to what the property was worth and was a waste of time marketing to them. Anyway, I just wanted to say thank you for all of the information you make available on your blog. I really appreciate it.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Billy! That’s awesome man! I applaud you for all the action you’ve taken so far. It’s always exciting to hear stories like yours, when people have taken the plunge and keep digging and tweaking until the results come. I think you’re probably on the right track with trying the county route, as the information tends to be much more reliable overall (though as you’ve already seen, AgentPro247 can certainly be a viable option as well).

      Thanks for keeping me posted. I’d love to hear how it continues to go for you!

  • Amy says:

    Hi, Seth,

    I love your videos! I just signed up for an agentpro247 account. I exported a list of tax- delinquent vacant land from one county. How often can I download the same list from this same county? How long should I wait to make sure I mail to new owners on the list but don’t mail to the same owners?

    Thanks!
    Amy

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Amy – thanks so much! I’m glad you’re liking the videos.

      I believe you can download it as often as you want, up until you hit your monthly limit. For the Bronze package, I believe you get 2,000 names per month and for the Profile package, I think you get 1,000 per month (so you’ll want to be at least somewhat selective).

      Assuming the information in AgentPro247 is current (which isn’t always the case, btw), most of those lists will be good for about 2 – 4 weeks. If you wait any longer than that to send out your mail, you’ll probably want to get a fresh list.

      Also keep in mind, if a delinquent tax list is specifically what you’re looking for, the best place to get it is directly from the county. It isn’t always easy or cheap to do it this way, but the currency and accuracy of the data is unbeatable (and is almost always worth the extra hassle).

  • michael anderson says:

    Awesome! Yep thought it was gonna be a pain, but no pain no gain? Maybe… I may just hire someone in the future. I gonna make a video of how to separate the data and put it into excel so I can give it to an assistant next time using Jing Software https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nmBUg0KX3fI
    Thanks for the reply!

    • David C. says:

      Hello Michael,

      Did you ever get around to making a video on separating the data? It would help me to take a look at that if you don’t mind!….

  • michael anderson says:

    Seth you da man! I got this list from the county but it only comes on CD-ROM
    and its all jumbled together, could you take a look at it and help me figure out how to separate who exactly to mail to? I can kind of tell who is a business and residential but I don’t see how to figure out if they owe a lot or how many years they have owed back taxes or any important info. Would you just mail ALL the residential to the address listed? Perhaps I am over thinking it. Any directions and expertise would be greatly appreciated, thank you!

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Michael, I just took a look at your list and I’m familiar with this format (I’ve had to deal with a few lists like this in the past and they can be a MAJOR pain to work with). It’s not impossible, but definitely annoying and time consuming. Unfortunately, it takes much longer and requires a significantly more tedious process.

      One way around this would be to hire a contractor on Fiverr.com or Elance.com and pay them to do it for you (this might run you about $50 – $100). It’s definitely a pain, and one of the downsides of getting lists directly from the county (and you’ll never know when the list is going to look like this until you get it).

      It also looks like this list is in txt format – you’ll definitely want to get this in EXCEL format (this is not just a preference, this is a must).

      Regarding how much each property owes in taxes, you can see the balance owed on each property by looking at the “Tax Due” and “Penalty Due” columns and just adding them together.

  • Josh says:

    Seth,

    Thanks so much for providing all this value and for answering my questions on your other page. I just got AgentPro247 (used your code) and I have a question about pulling lists.

    I have been excluding all owners that are LLCs, Corps, Partnerships, HOAs, and banks. I think you (possibly) referred to doing this since those entities are unlikely to do business with you. Do you feel that is true? Especially with LLCs, which tend to be sole proprietorships, and thus smaller businesses? The reason I ask is because when I exclude these entities, the list gets greatly reduced. I want to be sure what I am doing makes sense.

    Looking forward to any input you might have.

    Josh

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Josh! Yes, in almost all instances I would agree with this approach. If you’re seeing the list get a lot smaller by doing this, it’s a sign that you’re doing something right. By doing this, you’re eliminating a lot of names that aren’t likely to do business with you anyway (i.e. – so why spend the money on mailing to them?). That being said – if the list is too small, (like, less than 50 names), it could be a sign that there’s a glitch the system and you might be better served getting your list from a different county OR try getting it directly from the country treasurer’s office.

  • Patrick says:

    Seth,
    I have been pulling lists by contacting the counties directly and comparing to agent pro. Confidence on agent pro is low for me so will keep going to counties as painful as it is. Every county is different but I have seen a few counties that offer the list of tax certificate properties. These seem to be the delinquent tax roll on steroids. Some counties seem to have delinq list even before the tax is past due so if they are billed nov 1 they are on delinq list but there is no real consequence until April the next year when a cert is sold. Have you ever targeted the tax cert list? I have not yet sent a mailing so I don’t know. I am looking at land.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Patrick – I actually have – and you’re right, this list is even more potent than the typical delinquent tax list (because they’re even closer to foreclosure than the rest of them).

      These can be a great resource, but the only thing to be wary of is the fact that the balances on most of these properties will be VERY high (because they’re as close as they can get to foreclosure without actually being foreclosed), so just be prepared for that. Many of these balances can be so high that it will squelch the deal – which can be pretty disappointing in the end.

  • Yevgeny says:

    Hi Seth ! Thank you for such a great blog ! I really enjoy reading it ! I wanted to ask you when I find a delinquent property taxes list does that usually mean the owner doesn’t have a mortgage on the house ?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Yevgeny – great question, and you’re definitely onto something here.

      In my experience, you are correct. People with delinquent property taxes usually don’t have mortgages (because most mortgage companies will automatically set up an escrow account to pay for these property taxes). This is another one of the side benefits of the delinquent tax list (and in my opinion, it’s a pretty huge benefit)!

  • Jon La Rosa says:

    Hi Seth,

    I have a specific question regarding tax default lists, but first I want to thank you for putting out so much solid information.

    I’m dabbling around on agentpro247 using the free trial offer and I have pulled up a list of absentee owners who are in property tax default for the residential vacant land they own in a particular county. I got about 500 results, but I’m a little frustrated because the info in the list doesn’t indicate how long the property owner has been in default. This seems like a crucial bit of information, as some states have long redemption periods (in the state I’m referring to, it is 5 years). Yet there is no criteria selection for length of time in default. I pulled up a property report from the list, and there is an area in the report where it identifies what appears to be the year the property went into default. In your experience, do you target owners who are nearing the redemption period? And is this information available through agentpro247 (I’m still not very familiar with the website and could be looking in the wrong place)? I haven’t contacted the county directly yet, but I assume that they can rather easily provide information about how long an owner has been in default.

    Thanks!

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Jon – thanks for your comment! Unfortunately, AgentPro247 is a great tool, but it’s not the “ultimate” source of information. I’m not sure if it tells of how many years are delinquent, but it does say “Tax Amount” and “Assessed Value”. You could use these two values to judge which properties you do and don’t want to pursue (judging by the amount owing compared to the amount each property is worth).

      I typically target owners who are 2 years behind on their taxes. This seems to be the sweet spot in the areas I do business (any longer and the tax balances are usually too high).

      If you haven’t tried the county yet – I’d definitely recommend trying that route (more on that here: https://retipster.com/delinquent-tax-list/). Even if you don’t use county lists as part of your permanent strategy, it’s a great process to get familiar with.

      • Jon La Rosa says:

        Thanks for the response.

        I’m definitely going to familiarize myself with the county lists as well, just trying to figure out what I can do through agentpro first before I start dropping money on the county lists.

        I’ve also found that many of the search results I pulled don’t provide an address. It simply says “no address” under the heading, and I’d say the great majority of the results don’t have an address. Or there will be an incomplete address listed, providing only a street name without the street number. Do you just omit these results from the master list? And what does it mean when there is no physical address? I tried to cross reference a few that had incomplete addresses with the info on the county website using the APN numbers, but I get the same information. They list property boundary descriptions, but this is of little help regarding a direct mail campaign. I’m assuming that agentpro gets their tax data from the county, but I don’t understand why there aren’t physical addresses or why there are incomplete addresses associated with these parcels. It seems to really only be the case with vacant land.

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Jon, I understand the frustration. It’s actually quite common for vacant land properties to have no address listed (it just means that there hasn’t been one registered at the county yet – or it could also mean the property is land locked with no road access). What’s really important in these cases is to simply know the owner’s name and/or the parcel number. With this information, if you still can’t find the property in AgentPro247, you should be able to find the property if you could call the county’s equalization department and ask them for a parcel map (or some kind of direction on where it’s located).

  • Terrell says:

    Hey man great post. I have been sending out mailings for 4 months now hoping for a great response soon!

    Thanks

    • Seth Williams says:

      That’s awesome Terrell – way to take action. Keep in mind – if you’re getting the right list and sorting it the right way, it shouldn’t take long to get the kind of responses you’re looking for!

  • Scott says:

    I’ve been reading your article and watching your videos on AgentPro247. I currently reside in Houston, TX and would like to get started right away. Do you have any recommendations for someone such as I with a big market city and not a whole lot of time?

    Scott

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Scott – thanks for your interest in the videos! Your question is a bit of a loaded one (as there are a lot of different things I could suggest, depending on how much money you have, what your priorities are, what you do/don’t know, etc.). Can you be more specific about what you need?

      • Scott McRae says:

        Hey Seth,
        Sorry it’s taken a lot of time to respond. Currently I live in the Spring Branch area which is a really hot market right now. They’re a lot of deals to be had however everyone and they’re brother is trying to get their hands on them. I need an edge and I definitely think AgentPro247 is it. I’m looking for deals before they fall into foreclosure or sellers with multiple neglected properties which there are a lot of them in my market. The problem is I’m usually finding these too late and they already have multiple offers or they say they have multiple offers. The number one rule in real estate is you make your money when you buy. With that in mind what’s your advice on how to get started on the right foot. I’ve yet to close a deal even though I’ve made several offers.

        Scott

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Scott,

          I feel your pain – that’s a common issue when a real estate market is hot (and I know it can be pretty frustrating).

          To get started on the right foot, I’d say it’s most important to just take action and figure out which marketing methods do & don’t work for you. There’s only so much “learning” you can do without getting your hands dirty, so if you’ve read everything on this blog and you’re still not sure what to do, it’s probably time to just pull the trigger on something and get your feet wet.

          Send out some direct mail. Make some offers. Talk to some people on the phone. You’d be surprised at how quickly you can pick this stuff up!

  • Trevor says:

    Seth, when you go after tax delinquent properties, do you go after owner occ’s?

  • Nathan says:

    Good stuff, this sounds like something I would like to do. How do I find out more?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Nathan, what exactly do you want to know? If you’re curious about how to sign up for AgentPro247 and pull your first list, all the information is listed above.

  • samuel perry says:

    This article was great. I enjoyed reading it. I am an investor in the state of Texas looking to buy houses that are below market value. So if you use this info and come across some property at a good price and need to offload it go to my website at http://www.homebuyerintexas.com and lets see what we can do for you.

  • Sergio Rodriguez says:

    This sounds like a gold mine. ..I might take a look at it…I’m an investor in Manchester NH and due to state statue I can’t hold a loan subject to if the seller is in foreclosure meaning pre-foreclosure The questions I have are: is this product verifiable on BBB? May I cancell any time? Is it a monthly payment program or a one time fee?

    Thank in advance for your response and thank you very much for sharing this product.

    Thanks again

    Sergio

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Sergio, thanks for the comment! I’ve never checked the BBB for any reviews on AgentPro247, but it’s not a bad idea (if that’s what will get you comfortable with it). Let me know if you find anything good!

      I believe you can cancel any time, yes – though I don’t think it’s available for a one time fee, only on a subscription basis.

  • David says:

    I got a super targeted list of 500 absentee owners, with almost 100% equity and the properties are all vacant. Seth, I bought your postcard templates and used them.

    After a week I have 1 call and it wasn’t even for a property in the target area. I’m pretty bummed, spent a month setting up my company infrastructure, professional sounding voicemail ques and greeting, biz cards, magnets, the works list of buyers with proof of funds ready to buy anything I have.

    Now I am told it can’t be done in my market (south east Florida) because everyone here are cash buyers and I need to dump my plans and do something other than traditional wholesaling. What that is I don’t know.

    – bummed 🙁

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi David – thanks for letting me know how your first mailing went. I’m curious – is this list of absentee owners vacant land, or vacant houses? Were they tax delinquent properties, or just properties with 100% equity? Also – I wouldn’t make any final judgments about the campaign’s success (or lack thereof) until at least 2 – 3 weeks after you’ve ordered your mailing (I’m assuming you did this through Click2Mail?)

      I do understand the disappointment you’re feeling – but it’s also part of the direct mail game. Some mailings produce awesome results and some of them stink. The important thing is to do a very close analysis of what you did this time, and what you could change about your next campaign. There are several factors in your list that seem small, but can make a huge difference.

      Lastly – don’t be afraid to get your next list directly from the county. The data from their office is usually very good (depending on the county) and it’s where I typically see my best results.

      • David says:

        These were not delinquent, or at least not sold to me as such, checking on a few with the county shows no back taxes due.

        These are all houses from the few I checked on google maps. So they are “vacant houses”.

        The list were sold to me as “high” equity absentee properties and again the few I spot checked confirmed this.

        I have no problem getting the list from the county directly, but I don’t see how to get a more targeted list than this as it was generated. I have already pulled all the absentee owners out of the county into a list of 4,500 here in my zip.

        So assuming I get poor results 3 weeks out I don’t see how to go back and see what went wrong. It’s either the list, or the template of yours I used. So my logic says to try another form of mailing like a letter instead of a double sided card. And if I get nothing better than it’s time to dump the list and figure something else out.

        But my real fear is I live in an area that is all cash buyers anyways, and the normal “we pay cash for your home” strategies don’t hold up well here as over 50% of the sales goto cash buyers here. Every hear of a situation like this?

        • Seth Williams says:

          Just to verify – did you get this list from AgentPro247, or some other source? If you haven’t tried a tax delinquent list yet, I’d suggest you give one a shot. You can pull these from AgentPro, but I prefer to get them directly from the county, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be the best information you’ll get.

          A few years ago I actually tried to take a similar approach to what you’re describing and I actually got similar results. A VERY low response rate (which was heartbreaking, and difficult to bounce back from). This is why I stick to tax delinquent lists almost exclusively – because the recipients on these lists will be much more willing/able to play ball at a very low price.

          For the moment – I’d suggest you try not to worry about what your competition is doing… just put it out of your mind completely. When I mail to tax delinquent lists, I literally have ZERO competitors to fight against (I don’t even think about what they’re doing). It sounds like you’re doing the right general work, but you’re going after the wrong criteria with these lists (or at least, you’re picking a target audience that isn’t very motivated to sell).

  • ikea says:

    Seth, if your only pulling 333 absentee tax delinquents from the county, who else do u mail? Do u re mail this list?

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Ikea – I’m only mailing to this list once (because delinquent tax list go stale pretty quickly). When I’m through with this list, I just pull another fresh one and keep the process going.

  • dona cardenas says:

    Thanks for sharing your info. In your opinion, do you know how agentpro compares to the actual tax info I get through my listing service? (im an agent) would it be different somehow other than the way to filter the info. (listing service is limited)

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Dona, that’s a great question. I don’t have MLS access, so I honestly can’t say with any certainty how your listing service compares to AgentPro247… though my gut tells me it would be almost identical to the information that AgentPro247 is able to provide (assuming tax data it’s even able to in your area). It might be worth trying both side-by-side though. Just sign up for the free trial and see how the two sources compare.

  • Dave says:

    Hi Seth
    Awesome blog and good resources however I have used agentpro247 before and the data is OLD even the tax default is for 2011 and that’s from multiple states. I called them on it more than once and no help not even from escalating the call. I would not use them again way to many disappointments.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Dave, thanks for your comment! I’ve actually had similar experiences in a few various counties around the country as well. I’ve found that this usually happens in areas that are very sparsely populated because when a county has a lower tax base, they have fewer financial resources available to keep their systems and information up-to-date. It’s actually more an issue with the county than it is with AgentPro (because AgentPro can only report the data that the county makes available to them). I know there a few counties in my state that I just know I can’t trust when I’m pulling the data from AgentPro247… the systems at the county level are just too unreliable.

      What you mention is a good lesson though. It’s best to hold off any doing any massive direct mail campaigns until you know that the county you’re working in is providing legitimately current data. You could easily start with 100 mailers (or a reasonably modest number) or do some comparative research before you jump in with both feet.

  • Marcel says:

    Hey Seth,
    I listened to your podcast episode on BP, incredibly informative. Thanks for all the insight in that episode and on this site. I just have a quick logistical question: how do you determine what Property Characteristics to select to retrieve vacant land on Agent Pro? I see the property type field that has Agricultural/Rural, Commercial Vacant, Residential Vacant…. Any advice?

    Thanks again,
    Marcel

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Marcel,

      Thanks for stopping by the blog! I’m glad you liked the BP podcast, that was a lot of fun. When I’m narrowing those lists, I usually narrow down by the “Use Code” OR the “Property Characteristics” (not both). If you narrow it too far, you won’t have many (if any) results. If I know exactly what I’m targeting (say, farmland only), then I’ll narrow it down as far as I can go – but if I’m open to more types of properties, then I’ll leave it as open as I can.

      Does that make sense?

      Seth

  • Gary Kurtz says:

    Hey Seth,
    Getting ready to send out our fist mailing and was wondering, how does Agent247 compare to List Source?
    Thanks!
    Gary

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hi Gary, I think they are pretty similar as far as the accuracy and currency of their data. List Source is probably a tad more user-friendly (in my opinion) and you don’t need an actual subscription. However, AgentPro247 is WAY cheaper (even if you do sign on for a monthly subscription).

      Good luck with that first mailing!

  • Mike says:

    Hi Seth. After reading your blogs on this I have just sent out my first mailings to absentee and tax distressed owners in my area. My budget only allowed me to send out 500 post cards. But at least it was something and better than sitting on the sidelines. In 4-6 weeks I’ll resend.
    Thanks for the great info.
    Mike

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hey Mike, that’s awesome man – way to take action! Keep me posted on how it goes, I’d love to hear about the results.

      • Mike says:

        Hi Seth.
        Well I’ll have to say I’m disappointed with the results of my mailing. Not one response . So I’ll try again soon. Any suggestions?
        Thanks. Mike

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Mike,

          Thanks for the heads up on this. I actually have experienced an unusually low response rate like this on a couple of very rare occasions and it can be difficult to figure out what’s going on here.

          Your question is actually a great one, because I suspect that you won’t be the last person to experience this (as there could be any number of things going on here). Given this, I’m going to make an update to this blog post (see above). Hopefully this will give everyone some ideas if they’re seeing a consistently bad response rate on their mailings like this.

  • Trent says:

    Sweet blog! I found it while browsing on Yahoo News.

    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo
    News? I’ve been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it

  • Daniel says:

    Seth, do you know how frequently AgentPro 247 updates their lists in order to provide the most recent property information?

    Thanks for this great blog!!

    Daniel

    • Seth Williams says:

      Hey Daniel – great question. The currency of this information really depends on how up-to-date each individual county keeps their public records, and unfortunately – every county is different. I’ve found that in most cases, the more densely populated counties have better systems and keep their records very current. The sparsely populated counties can be a little hit-and-miss. If you want the MOST current info, you can get it directly from the county (but this is usually more expensive, and the formats of each list aren’t very user friendly).

      • Daniel says:

        Makes sense. I’m in the process of getting my first list directly from the county (Vacant land list without tax delinquent information) for 30 bucks. The Assessor mentioned to me that they offer “packages” for investors like me for $700, that I obviously didn’t buy.
        I’ll check out AgentPro247, because it really seems to be worth the money. Well, the first mailing to one of their lists will show me how good it is 😉

  • Sorab Gakhar says:

    Very interesting, i’ve been reading your posts today and find your concepts to be great, would love to talk to you more.

    • Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Sorab, I’m glad you’ve found it helpful – let’s stay in touch!

      • Jordan says:

        Hey Seth I’ve watched your videos and I see your ideas as good ones too, I’ve been doing great but for some reason I pulled a list and the names are all gone in the list itself. Only “*****” shows up under the name column. I have the bronze package and I don’t know why the names aren’t coming up.

        • Seth Williams says:

          Hi Jordan,

          That’s strange – I can’t say I’ve ever seen that. It could be something strange with the specific county you’re looking in. It might be worth skipping this county for now and trying to pull your list from another one (and if that still doesn’t work, give AgentPro247 Support a call and see if they can tell you anything about this).

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