Guide to Generate Motivated Seller Leads

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Real Estate Marketing is like breathing, it must never stop or you’ll die. There's some real estate marketing that's good for wholesale real estate and some that's not so good.  The only way to really tell the difference is testing.  If you go and buy a Yellow Pages ad for your ‘we buy houses’ business, will it bring you deals?  Some say yes, some say no. Think about who actually keeps a phone book.   When mine hits the driveway, it usually sits there until recycle day when I dump it right in the bin.  I never even open it. But I live on a street with 4 people over the age of 60.  They’ve had phone books their entire lives.  My first thought if needing a number is Google.  But there is still a large population of older folks who thumb through a phone book. When you're finding motivated seller leads, you don't want to exclude this entire population. The rate of home ownership only goes up as a population ages. You don't want to exclude your most saturated market. My first wholesale deal came from a shitty yellow letter that I woulda dumped right in the trash.  But the motivated seller could have cared less; it addressed her need at the right time and place.  Lesson being, you have to remove your own bias when marketing.  What you think doesn’t really matter. You're finding motivated seller leads, not impressing yourself.

What matters are results.  Conversions.  Sales.  Deals.

Those can't happen until you put yourself out there. We want you to get started. Everyone is always trying to figure out the most effective type of real estate marketing, and this drives me nuts. Many of you know I like to hang out in some of the Real Estate Investor Facebook Groups, answering their questions and offering the ugly truth, the real truth, and nothing but the truth.  Occasionally I add a twist of sarcasm to keep myself from going crazy in the virtual walls. A lot of the same questions come up in these groups, which is perfectly normal because it's a moving parade. New members are constantly coming and going, so some of the same questions and topics come up. But there's one question in particular that I want to nip in the bud right now.  Which is why I'm writing this article on the MOB website, so I can reply to this redundant question by simply posting this link.

The question that urks me the most is : What is the MOST effective type of real estate marketing marketing for (enter whatever list you want here).

Let me start my rant by saying that I'm not attacking anyone personally. I totally get that you want to be the best, most bad ass investor out there, and not waste any of your time and money. I get that. But, there's more to marketing that just the type of marketing that you use.  THAT is what you need to understand. We ALL know the main sources of leads in the creative real estate business. If not, here's a list: Probates, Divorces, Pre-Foreclosure, Delinquent Taxes, Evictions, Code Violations, Absentee Owners, etc etc.  So once you've chosen your target audience, it's time to determine what you're going to send them. This is where this nagging question comes in.  And I'm going to help you SOLVE THIS PROBLEM forever. Right now.


(Keep Reading....)

Just like we know what the main sources of leads are, we also know that main sources of marketing pieces that we send to these people. On occasion, people come up with some creative ideas that they try. Some are hits, and some are misses.  But there's only TWO THINGS that are going to make your real estate advertising campaign effective, no matter WHAT "type" of mail piece that you decide to use.


You can't sit around dreaming about implementing a real estate marketing campaign. You have to pull the trigger and put it into action. Quit daydreaming and analyzing which postcard you should use, or if you should use the "standard" yellow letter over a "probate/condolence" yellow letter.  All of that shit don't matter. Use a little common sense in what you send the seller, and JUST DO SOMETHING. Once you've developed a habit of implementing your marketing campaigns, you'll soon discover that EVERYTHING works.  They key to success is I-M-P-L-E-M-E-N-T-A-T-I-O-N.  Not the "type" of real estate marketing that you choose. That's lesson #1


The second thing that you must learn about real estate marketing is that it takes at least 6 touches with a motivated seller before your conversion rates will be worth a shit. A "touch" is a postcard, letter, phone call, or email.  Any type of contact with the motivated seller is considered a touch So don't be foolish like thousands of other investors out there and mail to these people one time.  You're wasting your money.  That's what's called a "one and done".  Instead, create a plan for EACH list source and touch them 6 times. Think about the most powerful companies in the world, and how they approach marketing.  You should treat your real estate marketing campaign to motivated seller leads the same way.  What if you only ever saw the GEICO commercial once?  Would you remember it? Would you think of GEICO when it was time to save 15% on your car insurance? NO! You wouldn't. Because of the number of times they touch you, you can't help but think of them when you need car insurance .

A distressed seller is no different.

If you reach out to them with a message that they need to hear, and they keep seeing your message over and over, then when they're ready, they'll think of you and they'll call you.  They may not be READY to make the decision to sell their house on the same day that they get a postcard from you.  It may be a few months later, which is why a consistent real estate marketing plan with a minimum of 6 follow ups is critical to your success. Once you try these 2 simple things, and quit squandering with your time, you won't have to wonder or worry any more about what the most effective real estate marketing is ever again. You'll already know. You're welcome.


This question was asked in the Lounge by one of our Mobsters. I thought it was a great question so I wanted to elaborate on it just a bit. The question that was asked was...

"Is it possible to run a successful real estate wholesaling business without doing any direct mail"?

The answer to that is yes. But followed immediately by a "why"? Let's explore some other marketing ideas for real estate agents to generate motivated seller leads and really put some thought into WHY you would want to do any of these things.  Some newbies start out doing some of these things, and I admire the gumption for them to do that.

Real Estate Marketing Methods of Generating Motivated Seller Leads

A website is a "must" for any serious real estate investor.People are savvy these days, and they're quick to "google" your name and dig for information, including reviews. Having a website where sellers can learn more about the process is very beneficial and will indeed generate leads. The biggest challenge with a website, though, is getting (organically)  indexed on the first page of Search Engines.  This was easy to do several years ago, now it takes alot of time, patience and constant updating of your website with new content. The other option for your website to is to pay to be shown on the first page using Google Ads.  This can get expensive, as well, especially if you're not familiar with how to manage a Google Ad Campaign, and how much you should be paying for clicks, etc.  I'm hearing that the cost to close a deal from Google Ads right now is $2,000 - $3,000. Much higher than the cost of direct mail. If you're going to implement the use of a website for sellers, use it as a brochure website, where they can go for information about the process of doing business with you.  Make it a home for your testimonials. Related: Complete Guide to Inexpensive and Effective Marketing Ideas

Have plenty of opportunities for your visitors to leave their information, so that it also serves as a lead generation mechanism.

There's not much to say about this. People are freaky weird and who wants to go door knocking like a magazine salesman? How much is your time worth only to get the door slammed in your face?  I'd rather not. I can't think of a better way to get super frustrated and rip your hair out than by sitting on the phone cold calling "For Sale by Owners" from Craigslist. There's no way to filter out who these people are. They're just a bunch of random people who have a house for sale.  They aren't your best candidates. Imagine how many no's you have to get before you get a POSSIBLE motivated seller.  My brain hurts just thinking about it.  This is not a viable solution for anyone who is serious in this business.

At one point, I made $86,000 in profit from Bandit Signs.

I was very consistent with the weekly placement of the real estate signs. That is, until the whole Bandit Sign Scandal incident. They're very high maintenance, and sometimes only last for 15 minutes before they're headed to the dumpster.   Not to mention they can cause you some monetary fines from code enforcement if you're not REALLY careful. I do like Bandit Signs for lead generation, as long as you're tracking your results and can prove that the signs are responsible for a good ROI (Return on investment). The downside is that they're alot to maintain, hard to manage the placement, and aren't really targeting any specific person.  They're a sort of "shotgun" marketing, hoping that the right person drives by and sees it. Want to know more? Check out our previous blog post that will tell you everything you need to know about Bandit Signs.

Bandit signs are a good supplemental real estate marketing campaign.

Good for giving out your phone number.Waste of money for lead generation. You'd have to give out 10,000 real estate business cards each month to make a difference, which would mean you'd need to actually see that many people in person.  That could lead you to drink. Another form of very expensive shotgun marketing, and better left to big box companies. The messages on billboards are meant for the general population. We work in a specific niche,  with a specific type of person.  Our marketing should be targeted directly for them with a message that hits home. I've listed several methods of marketing that you could use to generate motivated seller leads. That is, if you really don't want to use direct mail as your preferred method.  I can assure you, though, that after a few months of using 1, 2 3 or even all of the methods that I've listed here, you'll revert back to direct mail. There's no better way to generate a TARGETED seller lead, with very little effort, at a very low cost.  Direct mail is a method that can easily be outsourced and scaled to a massive level without raping you of your valuable time. So the answer is clear. Yes, you can be a successful wholesaler without doing any direct mail, but it won't be very enjoyable. You'll be ripping hairs out, drinking yourself crazy, and wishing you were dead. All in a valiant effort to get a deal.  Is it worth it? What did I miss?  What other real estate marketing tools do you use to generate leads that I haven't listed? If you're using any , please comment below and let us know how it's working out for you

Where To Get a Motivated Seller Mailing List If you're a real estate investor, you're probably always searching for motivated seller lead generation marketing. I know I am! In fact, I have only about 4 core mailing lists that I mail to consistently, Otherwise I'm constantly testing and tracking new mailing lists, and new forms of marketing to generate leads.  Then I report all of that information (good or bad) to my members in the MOBSTERS LOUNGE. It's always a good idea to try out new lead generation marketing ideas, and find ways to make more money as a real estate investor. And it all starts with locating prospects.  It can be quite frustrating to spend money on a mailing list, only to discover that it's not the highest quality leads.  And while I can't guarantee that you 'll have the same results that I do, I can offer some advice on where to get some of the best lists. So I did a little video to give you some clues on where you can get a good mailing list from and tips on some excellent real estate lead generating marketing. Enjoy! https://youtu.be/jC0mD7KBSt8


Discover some facts about motivated seller leads and mailing lists that you never dreamed possible. Stop following the absentee owner herds, and start maximizing your marketing dollars by selecting The TOP 3 Mailing Lists for Real Estate Investors.

The information that you'll learn in this FREE training session has been tested and documented by an actual real estate investor, and could change the way you think of generating seller leads forever.

The Average Direct Mail Response Rate is Less than 1%

As real estate investors, I think we're all faced with this issue right now. At least that's what I keep hearing. So in this video, I address the problem, and then offer 2 viable solutions. Don't get stuck in the mud with your old and unproductive habits!!!  If it isn't working, then change it!!

What is a Good Response Rate for Direct Mail?

This is a good question to ask yourself if you're investing money on marketing campaigns. So let's discuss that right now. What IS a good response rate for a real estate marketing campaign? Well, there are way more factors that you should consider before you decide what makes a "good" campaign. Let's review some of the elements of a "good" real estate marketing list before we determine if your response rate is acceptable.

What is a "Response Rate" Anyway?

A response rate refers to the number of people who reply to your message divided by the number of people in the campaign. While response rates are important to know, they don't tell the REAL tale of how that campaign performed. Let's take yellow letters, for instance.  This nice handwritten letter does produce a higher response rate than your typical postcard.  For obvious reasons, the recipient feels compelled to respond to something that is handwritten.  More of these people are more pissed off than interested in selling.    So if you were gauging whether or not your campaign did well based only on response rate, it would be bad information to use. We measure response rates to see how our list responded to the message.  It's just the FIRST step in determining how well the campaign delivered. Let's explore.

Did You Select a Highly Targeted Mailing List?

It's easy to login to one of the mailing list broker websites like ListSource or Listability, and grab 10,000 names really fast.  That's not the point.  Just because you're sending out real estate marketing postcards to random homeowners doesn't mean that they're the best choice of people to receive your message.  The more targeted you are in your list selection, the better your response rate will be. Some good ideas for mailing lists are Probates, Quit Claim Deeds, Delinquent Property Taxes, Evictions, Code Violations, Divorces, and even some "filtered" absentee owners.  What do I mean by "filtered"? Absentee Owners isn't enough. All that means is that the person owns real estate that they don't live in.  I don't see this as a reason to be automatically pegged as a potentially motivated seller.  Don't get me wrong, I know many investors who make money from absentee owner lists, but I prefer to be more selective in my criteria.  When they call, I already get half way excited because I know the origin of their problem. Every marketing campaign starts with list selection.  It plays a big role in getting the initial response rate that you're hoping for.

Did You Deliver a Clear and Concise Message?

Don't over complicate the message that you send. Keep it clear and concise.  I've seen some very "busy" and confusing messages being sent to sellers.  It doesn't have to be that way. The #1 objective of your message is to get the recipient to call. If they're confused about what you're offering, your postcard/letter will end up on the trash. There's only a few things that your recipients need to know when they read your message.

  • Benefit - what is the #1 benefit will they receive if they do business with you?  This benefit should be relayed in your headline.
  • Deadline - Create some scarcity in your message by giving them a deadline to make contact you. Maybe offer an incentive.
  • Call to Action - You have to tell the reader what to do, and when to do it. Sounds lame, but it's true!  Tell them to CALL TODAY

How Many Times Have you Contacted Your Leads?

Don't be a one hit wonder and expect for your campaigns to be successful.  According to some of the top direct mail marketers in the country, it takes an average of 6 touches to a prospect before they'll respond. What does that mean for you? It means 1 does not equal 6.  It means that you can't expect to see optimal results when mailing to someone just one time.  Will you get responses with the first mailing? Yes, of course. Will you get even more with the second, third, and fourth mailing?  Absolutely! Following up with sequential mailings is where investors fail. Don't be the statistic.  Get the most use out of your campaigns by mailing to your prospects more than once.

Are You Keeping Track of your Marketing Campaigns?

When you deploy a real estate marketing campaign, the motivated seller leads start to roll in all at once. It's just how the business and the real estate marketing cycle works. You have to have a system in place to capture every single lead that comes in to your funnel, no matter what!! Even if they're dead lead or cuss you out. There's no way to intelligently analyze a real estate marketing campaign without knowing your numbers.  Keeping track of campaigns, leads, and response rates can be challenging to say the least. There's a simple solution.  It's called a CRM (which stand for Customer Relationship Manager).  It's software that's designed to organize and manage all of your leads and campaign neatly in one space. If you're serious about your real estate business, then you must have one. There are a couple of options out there for real estate investors, all of which are good products. 

The Average Direct Mail Response Rate is Less than 1%

As real estate investors, I think we're all faced with this issue right now. At least that's what I keep hearing. So in this video, I address the problem, and then offer 2 viable solutions. Don't get stuck in the mud with your old and unproductive habits!!!  If it isn't working, then change it!! https://youtu.be/hBaoOHkZXDw

How to Generate Motivated Seller Leads For Free

I say Free? Yes, you heard me right.  There are ways to generate motivated seller leads for free. When you get started (or have already been doing this business for some time) you need one of two things to generate leads. You either need time or money. Spending your money is the easiest way, and by far the least time consuming.  BUT if you don't have any money, which is the case for a lot of noobs, then you've got to invest your time. Here are some tips that will teach you how to generate some motivated seller leads for free. (yes, I said free):

  • Driving for Dollars 

    Do you ever get in your car and drive to the store? Of course you do!!  That was an utterly stupid questions.  Well, make wise use of your time and collect phone numbers for FSBO's (For Sale by Owners).   Any time you see a yard sign (especially the ugly handwritten ones that are all sun faded) - write down the number.  Make 20 calls per day every day until you have a smoking hot lead.  After all - real estate IS a numbers game.

  • Craigslist

    - Ahhh, we're all too familiar with this on (or are we)? There are hundreds upon hundreds of "motivated" sellers that have listed their house for sale on Craigslist. Yes, you will have to weed through all of the investors, wanna be's, scam artists, and Cambodian millionaires who need for you to enter your checking account routing information before you get the property address, but there are some hidden treasures on Craigslist.  Just recently, I discovered a seller who was behind on her mortgage payments there.  She had moved to a third world country and no longer wanted the house.  It ended up being a short sale flip, and we did very well handling the transaction via email. To make a long story short, she was there, and I was there, too. So it just worked. It will work for you too.

  • Door Knocking

    Did I just say that?  Holy moly.  I did.  This is when you see a property that looks "distressed", and you get out and knock on the front door. You talk to the seller and tell them that you're interested in buying their house.  You get the door slammed in your face. Maybe even cussed out.  But you keep doing this 20 - 25 times until you have a seller who raises their eyebrow when you make talk of all cash delivered in Winn-Dixie bags.  Yes, you 'll get egg on your face. Who cares?  After all - real estate IS a numbers game.

  • Other Wholesalers

    Set aside the fact that their your direct competition and join forces with them. If you don't have a property for sale, then certainly one of them do. Partner up, sign an option agreement, and get to work marketing that property so you can make a check. How much of a check should you expect? Well, that depends on how good you are with your fellow wholesalers.  Just be glad that their willing to share their inventory.  And work your ass off to get it sold so you can get that check in your fat little hands. Then you'll have some of your own money to market for your own leads.

These are just a few ways that you can implement immediately to start generating motivated sellers leads. Do all of them sound fun? Hell no.  Do all of them sound like a lot of work?  Hell yes. Will being pig headed, determined and disciplined get you what you want?  Absolutely.  Quit making excuses like "I don't have any money to spend on marketing", and start knocking on some strangers doors. Just be careful - you ever know who's on the other side............(creeeeepy).

Best List of Motivated Sellers

Question from Albert in Las Vegas NV: "Which is the BEST motivated sellers list to mail postcards to that will get you the highest response/most deals?"  (For example, probate, divorced, NOD, pre foreclosure, default property taxes, out of town owners, etc). Please reply ASAP." To answer your question, Albert, I think that...

Probates are by far one of the best motivated sellers list to mail to.

I've consistently mailed to probates for the last 10 years, and can prove that this is where some of my biggest deals come from. I do think that with all of the talk about Probate leads that the competition is becoming a little more stiff these days.  To stand out from the others, develop a marketing plan for your probates that is consistent and will stay with them for the duration of the probate process (usually 3 - 6 months). What's the reason probates are such good leads? These people just don't want to be bothered with a house.  A lot of times, the heirs of the estate live in another state. They find it difficult to manage the property from where they're at. They just want to liquidate it as quickly as possible.  Many times also, the house is in need of repair.  Not something that that heirs to an estate want to be bothered with. There are occasions where the heirs choose to keep the house and rehab it themselves, but it's not very often. While all of the lists that you mentioned in your question are good lists to mail to, my second favorite would have to be delinquent property taxes.  It's amazing how many times people own the house free and clear, and still have a hard time paying their property taxes.  It's a perfect opportunity for you to swoop in there and get a helluva deal on a house.

You can get a probate list from here!

Hope this helps you decide on which list to mail to.

What To Do When Your Real Estate Marketing Doesn't Work

I'm going to tell you what to do when your real estate marketing doesn't work. So pay attention. It's very simple. You Expect More Than Your Budget Allows. Let me get on my soap box for a minute and rant about people that say "I have $500 to spend on real estate marketing. What should I spend my money on to make sure that I get a deal"?  OH MY GOD. This makes me want to scream.

You can't rely on a one time real estate marketing campaign to make anything happen.

I mean, it's POSSIBLE that you could land a deal or two with a $500 ONE TIME budget to get started, but don't plan on it.

Now that that's out of the way, let's talk about the real issue at hand, which is when you're marketing consistently and the deals aren't coming.  What should you do? Let's say you have 2 or 3 real estate marketing campaigns going at once, and picking up 2 or 3 deals every month, but you don't know which one of those campaigns are working?  You should always be tracking how much money you're spending on your real estate marketing campaigns, and what type of results and profit you're getting in return.  By doing this, you can focus MORE on the campaigns that are working and abandon the ones that aren't.  

If the real estate marketing campaigns aren't producing results, then you WHACK EM.

My general rule of thumb is that if I spend $1000 on a real estate marketing campaign, I want to have closed at LEAST one deal and make $5,000.00 or else I'm not going to continue with that campaign. So how do you do this? It all comes down to one simple rule.

Implement an effective and easy to implement tracking system into your business!  

2 comments on “Guide to Generate Motivated Seller Leads”

  1. Ray Junior says:

    Google ads, bar none, is the most important/most effective way to market any product on the planet , especially real estate (whether buying or selling)

    Your $2k-$3k is realistic in the sense that that's likely going to be the cost of the first deal. But where it's not realistic is that many more deals will be found with each $2k-$3k you spend as you optimize your campaign. i do deals now for $800 in google ads and I expect that to drop to 1/2 of that over time.

    Also - one campaign where you spend $2k-$3k can easily achieve the requisite amount of "touches" for this form of digital marketing because, in many cases, if your website is set up correctly, the requisite amount of touches is 1. People that are searching google are HIGHLY motivated and 65% of highly motivated searchers are now clicking google ads first... long before (and in most cases entirely in place of) SEO and organic placement.

    the key; hire a FANTASTIC google ads optimization company. .DO NOT try and do this yourself or you'll spend $10,000 for 0 deals. a good company will cost a bare minimum of $500 a month, with the best charging $1k-$2k... before you even spend money with google. WORTH. EVERY. PENNY.

    look for those who are not only google ads certified, but are also google partners.

  2. Patrick Yepez says:

    Great infomration. Thanks

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