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Goldmine Of Returned Letters.

 November 13, 2019

By  Colby Hager

You’ve Mailed Your Letters They Got Returned. Now What?

When you mail out your yellow letters or other marketing mail piece to a list of motivated sellers. You spent time crafting the perfect yellow letter envelope according to my advice. You wrote an amazing yellow letter that will have sellers racing to the phone to call you. A few days go by, hopefully, you get some phone calls and start working those leads. Hopefully, you get a deal in the works. A couple more days go by and now you start getting letters back. I know you are tempted to throw them away, frustrated that they didn’t get delivered. Heck, you spend 50 cents just on the stamp. You have 15 letters in your hand!

What you really have is a goldmine. These letters didn’t get delivered! Why is this good you may be wondering? Well, it could be good for any number of reasons.

  • The address on public records might not be accurate. This is where most investors start. This is where most investors finish.
  • The home may be vacant.
  • The owner may have moved in a hurry
  • A tenant could have been evicted
  • The owner has abandoned the house
  • The house is part of an estate
  • The list goes on and on.

My Yellow Letter Didn’t Work. Now What?

Now it is time to push past where most investors stop. Most investors won’t do the hard work of finding out why their letters didn’t get delivered. Heck, as we discussed when we talked about creating the perfect yellow letter envelope, some investors don’t even put a return address! Now is when we kick into gear. Time to start digging. My favorite starting point is to find out if the property taxes are current and who has been paying them. If they are behind on their property taxes…DING DING DING. That is a great indicator of motivation. If the taxes are being paid by a mortgage company, there is a chance there is a pending foreclosure. That would be area to look number 2. Check for any pre-foreclosure filings. Once you have established some motivating factors (even if you haven’t) it is time to work on finding out where and how to actually contact the seller.

I always start with a simple Google search. Especially if there is an over 65 exemption on the property taxes, it may be a good idea to Google “Seller Name” actually use the quotation marks followed by the word obituary followed by your city. So for me, it might look like this: “Jane Doe” obituary San Antonio

See what you come up with. If you think you found a match, oftentimes, the obituary will list surviving family members. If there are adult children, start by trying to mail them. If there are no children, try siblings, etc…

These are the steps you take to try and get an idea of which leads to take to the next level.

Skip Tracing Returned Yellow Letters

Now that you have done some preliminary research on your returned letters, you have likely filtered some out. Some may have recently been foreclosed on and are now bank or investor-owned. Some you may have easily found a better address. Some you may have found are in an estate and you have 2-3 addresses to mail to children or other family members. That’s great! Mail those letters and keep track!

For the ones that still need additional information, it is time to step it up. Most investors stop here. Despite the fact that everyone says to skip trace, they don’t. So let me tell you this…if you take this step, you are entering a territory most investors won’t go. Cross that line! This is where the deals are! Yes, there are still deals to be had out there and this is where they are found.

There are many skip tracing services out there. I don’t recommend any particular one. I will say the more data they provide the better. When you decide to skip trace, you are putting on your Sherlock Holmes hat. There is no one way to do this, folks. What you are doing is looking for clues about what may have happened to the owner of the house, where they went, where they are, what their phone number is. You are also looking for someone else to contact. Relatives know what happened, they can guide you in the right direction or they may even be the right people to sell the house depending on what has happened.

A good skip trace will provide you with phone numbers, addresses, relatives and their phone numbers and addresses. This is the foundation of what you need. You shouldn’t be paying more than $10 per search and even that may be too much today.

Turning Your Trash Into Treasure

Now that you know exactly how to turn what would have been trash and frustration into a true goldmine of leads, take action. This can be time-consuming and tedious but it will eventually pay off handsomely. Take this seriously and know that you are going where few others dare to go. Make phone calls, write more yellow letters, take notes and track your efforts. You will have a breakthrough and find that pot of gold! Good luck!

Colby Hager


Colby Hager has been buying, renovating, and selling properties in San Antonio, TX since 2009. He specializes in real estate marketing and working with homeowners through the selling process.

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