Brandon Barnes is a newer investor that has been able to realize $100,000 in revenue in less than a year of real estate investing. The most effective strategy, which has resulted in over half of his overall revenue, is the pursuit of probate real estate. Brandon has been able to turn a $1000 marketing budget into over $50,000 in revenue in less than one year by consistently adhering to this six-step probate process, which he outlined in detail in our recent conversation:
Step 1 – Obtain Probate Leads
Obviously, the first step in the real estate probate process is to get your hands on related leads. In most markets, you must physically visit the County Courthouse and ask a clerk for assistance in pulling the records on everyone that has submitted an estate to be probated. In other markets, this step can be completed online or on the phone.
Brandon commits to going down to the probate courthouse once each and every week in 3 different counties.
Step 2 – Prepare Probate Letters
After obtaining leads, the next step for successful probate real estate investing is to prepare the probate letters. Brandon accomplishes this by mail merging the documents together. For example, if he pulled 10 probate records, he will put them in an Excel spreadsheet with three columns – one for the addresses, personal representatives, and the decedent – and mail merge those into his standard probate letter. Following this method allows you to quickly create the letters while minimizing the manual labor required.
Step 3 – Probate Letter Messaging
Brandon’s standard probate letter reads, “Hi. My name is Brandon. I recently understood that you’ve initiated a probate record with the (insert County) at the address of (insert address). I offer my condolences and I am deeply sorry for your loss. I’d love to talk to you and help you clear this up with lower holding costs than you are already being charged.”
Brandon finds that addressing the elephant in the room – they have recently lost someone personally – is the best message for a probate letter. It helps because people appreciate the genuineness and the candor. Most people that are in the probate process will typically be facing a serious issue. Not only have the lost a loved one, but they likely don’t have the time to sell the property or to list it with an agent. Therefore, making a deal with an investor that can give them an all-cash offer and close quickly will be extremely helpful and appealing.
Step 4 – Mail Probate Letters
After the probate letters are prepared, address and stamp the envelopes, send them out, and wait for a response. When probate real estate investing, there will be many times that it becomes a waiting game.
Step 5 – Conversation With Seller
Once leads start calling in, which Brandon always answers directly and does not let it go to voicemail, a typical conversation would be the following:
Potential Seller: Hello Brandon. My name is Joe and I just recently received a letter that you sent in regards to my property at 123 Main St.
Brandon: Hi. I purchase homes in that area all the time. I would love to talk to you about the property. What is the condition of the property and when can I get over there to check it out?
As you can see, the conversation is very simple and straight to the point. After sending out the initial letter, the real estate probate process moving forward is just like working with any motivated seller. It is all about addressing the elephant in the room upfront. The original homeowner is deceased, so Brandon will offer his condolences in the initial letter, which means that, by the time the potential seller calls, they can move forward with making a deal.
Step 6 – Lead Conversion
At this point, Brandon will go to the property to evaluate its condition and take photographs. If the “shoe fits,” he will either lock up the deal and resell it to someone on his buyers list, or he and his partners will perform the rehab themselves and list it on the MLS.
The turn around from first contact to close can be as quick as 10 days, or it can be drawn out if it is a more detailed probate situation. Sometimes, there may be a bunch of different heirs that live in different locations that all need to be served the notice of the estate being probated.
Brandon has actually locked up a deal with the intention to purchase once the probate process is completed, and the heirs lived in different countries. As a result, he had to wait until all the heirs were served and the executor was given clearance to sell, which took a month. But once the sellers came back to Brandon with the all-clear, he moved forward and closed the deal in 7 days. Therefore, overall, sometimes the process can be drawn out and last months, while on other occasions, it can be turned around in 1-2 weeks.
The lesson here is, when probate real estate investing, be proactive about offering your condolences and be patient but diligent.