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Getting Into The Probated Property Arena

In the last post, I introduced probate, a vast shadow inventory of properties that are unlisted, unpublished, unknown. It begs the question, how to you discover these often overlooked opportunities? 

I'm a "recovering leads provider". By that I mean, I'm a firm believer in paddling your own canoe and not buy leads from a guy like me. There's 3,000+ counties nationwide, some records are online, some aren't online. Different processes to verify that real property is attached to the estate. It's better to understand the data nuances in your area, than to hire a so-called leads company. If you are intent on outsourcing this task, it makes more sense to search for a court research company, than a leads company. There are several reputable court researchers that mine all manner of data from courthouses for a variety of purposes, and can efficiently extract a list of probate filings in your locale. They by and large have pretty big clients and don't invest much in marketing - most of their websites are eyesores - so you have to find them. Very nice people, and meticulous. It takes a special kind of person to sit in front of microfilm for hours on end. 

But in my view, it is better to do it yourself, or hire someone that you know and can exert more control over. It can be difficult to manage someone 2,000 miles away. I've had botched jobs, one-day wonders, people that began a project and couldn't deal with the monotony of researching and quit. For that reason, it makes more sense to do it yourself, or at least hire a local person to add a level of accountability that a leads provider does not have. 

When you obtain a list of probate filings, the decision maker is the Personal Representative/executor/administrator, the decision maker who has been assigned by the Court to wind down the earthly affairs of the deceased, a task that is both an honor and a burden. Your messaging is one of a solutions provider, that in this difficult time you can help them sell the real property to resolve their obligations and distribute the remaining proceeds to the heirs. Many PR's that would not otherwise warm immediately to a stranger would otherwise go to a website to be educated on their options and learn more about why they should work with a probate real estate expert. > View some sample websites

One of the biggest impediments to selling the estate property is disposing of other, non-real property assets and personal belongings. For this reason, many people that successfully work probate offer additional services in terms of selling or donating items for a tax write off. Indeed, many property preservation companies generate business from a list of probate filings. Still other agents offer a hybrid program of making repairs (mostly cosmetic) to bring the estate property up to tip top shape in order to command the highest price, with the cost of those services to be discharged at escrow. I know of other people that offer a probate loan, to put money into the account fast, again, being paid back when the sale closes. 

There's some debate as to whether or not to market to attorneys, and in my view, it's a huge source of referral business if you are in it for the long haul. Many of those attorneys have their preferred network of real estate agents they recommend to the PR. When contacting the PR, the verbiage that seems to work is, "That's great. You owe it to yourself to interview that agent, and at least two others". When contacting the attorney, you can differentiate yourself from other agents and take a soft sell approach. One strategy is to offer - with their permission - to take photos of the probated property to ascertain the condition of the home, to avoid any deferred maintenance or code violation issues that clearly, would be detrimental to the estate. 

This blog is becoming monsterous, but I haven't even scratched the surface here. Stay tuned for additional insights into the probate space. Till next time, A-B-C. Always be closing!

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