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Contacting the estate for more probate deals

We're often asked what the best vehicle is to make an introduction with executors/administrators that are tasked with liquidating the estate.

Postcards are cheap to print and cheap to mail and they have no barriers to entry - they stare the recipient in the face. But when marketing to probates, in our view, postcards strike as being impersonal or insensitive. The big, glossy "We Buy Houses" postcards are not appropriate for mourning families.

To a lessor extent, I think the same is true for yellow letters that are too informal, again given the gravity of the loss of someone endeared to the family. Our clients have by and large generated a greater response with a professional, computer-generated letter.

As for the content of the letter, it will depend on whether you are an agent or investor, as the messaging will obviously be different. If you are both an agent and an investor - or an agent that works with investors - you have an advantage by offering the dual options of either listing the estate home for top dollar, or selling it in "AS IS" condition for a quick payday, depending on the condition of the estate home and the urgency for liquidity.

Courthouse records will reveal the address of the executor/administrator, and you can pay greater attention to those that live out of state. These people generally do not want to outlay money for repairs, play landlord or travel on their own dime to deal with property maintenance issues and thus, are more motivated by a fast sale to part with the albatross of a vacant home. I know of some investors who have gone so far as to take photos of the estate home if there are issues of deferred maintenance and share those pictures with the out-of-state executor for added incentive to sell the property before any more neglect takes its toll.

Repetition is a key determinant of success in all marketing campaigns, but it's especially important when seeking probate deals. The reality is, the executor/administrator is inundated with many details as they wind down the earthly affairs of the deceased and the timing may not be right at first to sell the estate home immediately after someone has passed. Our experience has shown this is particularly true with a spouse. Diligent court research will bear out the relationship of the executor/administrator to the deceased, and some agents and investors will initially concentrate their outreach efforts on adult children that have been cast in the role of executor/administrator and hold off on contacting the spouse for some time.

To express condolences or not? There are schools of thoughts for and against this. I am of the view that it is a good practice to let the white elephant out of the room in your initial contact, but refrain from mentioning the loss in future correspondence. Inevitably, many families will ask how you found them. A soft sell approach and delicate language is in order, such as, "If your intention is to not sell the estate home, can you keep my information for down the road?" with subsequent touch points inquiring about how settling the estate is going.

Phone numbers of the executor/administrator are sometimes published and if they are not readily available through probate records, certainly there are other means to look up the number and we can delve into phone scripts in future posts and upcoming webinars. 

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