Matt Theriault and Larry Higgins are proud to present tips on how to reach motivated sellers in a saturated market. Matt and Larry specifically talk about the pros and cons of skip tracing and how acquired data from this process can increase mail reach. Learn what to do with all returned mail, how to use the cold calling approach, and how much skip tracing services cost.
What You Will Learn About How to Reach Motivated Sellers in a Saturated Market – Larry Higgins:
- How much the market is really saturated
- 2 ways to deal with it and generate leads
- What to do with all returned mails from pre-foreclosures, tax liens, probates, and vacant houses
- Find out how Larry Higgins of SkipGenie.com can help you with this
- Pros and cons of skip tracing
- What data can be obtained from this process and how it helps to enhance mail reach
- What the “overkilled” approach is
- Everything you should know about the cold calling
- How email addresses can help you run targeted Facebook ads
- How to find people’s IP addresses using Google service and do the retargeting that way
- What the relationship report is
- How much skip tracing services cost
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I’ve got a special show for you today around reaching motivated sellers in a saturated market. And I use the word and place emphasis on the word saturated very loosely, and I use it because that’s how so many out there are referring to the market, and those that are using this expression, this expression of being a saturated market, really are mostly people that have never been through a sales cycle or two, a real estate cycle, meaning we’ve been on a good run for a while, I mean a decade now, and in terms of real estate cycles, this is a really long one. Typically seven, eight years, and we’re going on our tenth year. And for those that have been investing or flipping less than ten years, when I hear “saturated right now,” when I hear from those people, what I really hear is all of the low-hanging fruit is gone. That’s all I’m hearing. It’s not a saturated market. It’s a very normal market. I mean, it feels saturated because we’ve been very spoiled for a while.
Anyway, I’ll agree though; it is more difficult to find deals today than it was just, say, three years ago, four years ago. I got it. Maybe even just a year ago. But what is there to do? Quit and wait for the next cycle? No, don’t do that. I’d say do a couple things. Do the same things you’ve been doing, concentrating more on consistency than quantity. Might have to deploy a little bit of patience with that, but really exercise your discipline in the area of consistency, being consistent with the money-making activities. That’s generating leads, converting those leads to contracts. Those activities. So focus on consistency more than quantity. Quantity, of course, is good. But get the consistency down first, and then start working on the quantity. Consistency–it’s everything. That’d be the first thing.
The second thing would be to revisit the time-honored strategies of finding deals, like driving for dollars, like calling the owners of those places that you identify, and it’s probably a good time to really consider what there is to do with all of the returned mail that you’ve received. If you’ve been mailing to pre-foreclosures or tax liens or probate or vacant houses, you get a high volume. I don’t know. It can range anywhere from 5% to 20% of that mail gets returned back to you because there’s nobody living there anymore. But that person is still there. They still own the house, so how do you reach them? Well, and as well, you’ve spent a lot of money on that, so let’s go ahead and rather than throwing more money at it, let’s go find those people, and the solution is skip tracing, where you research the history of someone, a person, and you start with the point of they own that house. That’s how you get the name. And you try to locate them. You find past addresses, you find past phone numbers. You essentially put on your private investigator’s hat. You put that on and then you track down that motivated seller and make them an offer to buy their house.
So I’ve never been a fan of skip tracing because it’s really time-intensive, it’s a lot of data entry, it’s very meticulous. It’s a lot of paper shuffling and data entry, and a lot of the time it’s an inaccurate practice. If you look up one person’s name, even with the best services out there, you’re going to get 10 addresses to look at and 10 phone numbers to look at. What do you do with that now? How do you know which one’s the right one? I’ve just always felt it to be a better use of my time to keep mailing. I’m just going to keep on mailing, and I’ll keep on my lead generation going. I’m going to keep answering the phone, and I’m going to keep setting appointments. I’m just going to focus on that and forget about all that other stuff, like going and deleting people from my database and skip tracing and trying to find the people. I actually do feel the same way. I still feel the exact same way. I I think it’s a better use of your time by generating leads, answering the phones, and setting appointments.
But if there’s someone that can take all of that off your plate and do it for you and do a better job than you can do it yourself, all that time-intensive labor. If they can take all of that off your hands at an extremely affordable rate, I’m willing to change my tune. And I have. I was introduced to a person that brings all the solutions to these problems and makes skip tracing super easy and relatively cheap when considering the upside of the results. So I had a phone conversation with this person last week, and I recorded it, so I thought I’d just play you the recording of that call right here on the show. So please help me welcome to Epic Real Estate Investing, from Skip Genie, Mr. Larry Higgins. Larry, welcome to the show.
Larry Higgins: Hey, thanks. I’m happy to be here. Thanks for having me on.
Matt: Yeah, you bet. And I stumbled upon you on Facebook. I think someone tagged me in one of your posts, or they referred you to somebody that was asking about skip tracing, and I was like, “I think this is a very timely conversation to have.” I’ll just give you a little bit of my background, and we’ll go from there. I don’t have anything prepared. I don’t have anything scripted out. I just kind of wanted to be, almost put myself in the shoes of my listener and interview you from that perspective, because when we do direct mail, and we do quite a bit of it, and we send to either pre-foreclosures or foreclosures or vacant houses, we get a high volume of mail returned, and at one moment, maybe six or seven years ago when we started getting all this mail returned, I was like, “What do I do with this? Should I go and delete them from my database? Should I go look all these people up?” And I tried that once and it was such a time-intensive, effort-intensive task that I was like, “You know what? Screw it. I’d rather just keep on mailing, and I’ll eat up the cost ’cause my time is better used that way.”
And so when I’ve been asked by my students since then, I’ve always told them, “Hey, there’s two schools of thought on this. You can go and skip trace this stuff and put it into a database, and that can be a really high productive, fruitful list. I know people that do it that way. I come from a different school with other people that I know, that that’s just … It’s a waste of time, and your time is probably better served sending out more mail and talking to the people that do actually call. So I’ve got both sides, and with this market now, inventory’s beginning to be a little bit more less, the market’s getting a little bit more competitive, and I’m starting to see, “Hey, maybe there’s a need for that,” but still, how does it get done? And that’s when I stumbled across you. Like, “Oh my gosh, there’s somebody out there that does that just for our industry.” So I wanted to have you on and just kind of introduce you to the audience in case they wanted to take that avenue, and if you could explain to us how it works, and maybe it’s not such a time-consuming task, and I don’t know how it works.
Larry: Yeah, everything you just said, I’ve heard that so many times-
Matt: Okay, well there you go.
Larry: Even removing them from… You know Mike Hambra, you probably know Mike. [00:09:50]
Matt: Yeah, I know Mike well.
Larry: He’s like, “Our rule was, the third time it gets returned, we just removed it from the list.”
Matt: But still, having to keep track of three postcards, “Do we have three of these yet? Do we have three of these yet?”
Larry: Yeah. And so everything you’ve said, I’ve heard it, and I can understand that perspective, especially when you’ve been in the game longer, and you didn’t really need to, wasn’t worth it, because mail was more productive a little while ago. Still works. Now it’s about trying to maximize that, ’cause you’ve seen a little bit of the diminishing returns on the direct mail end. And to go along with that, the timing with skip tracing is, it doesn’t have to be as time-consuming. With all the tools and things we can do now, with bolt skip tracing where you just put it in a list, or you could literally … We’ve had people mail us 6,000 pieces of returned mail or 7,000.
Matt: Ah. See, that’s what I was getting at. So what does it look like technically? I’ve got a stack of postcards on my desk. What’s next? How do I approach that?
Larry: In that very specific case, there are two things you could do. You could just literally put it in a box, a pouch, or something, mail it to us, and we’ll do the data entry for you, put it in the format we need, a simple spreadsheet format. And then we’ll do what we call a bolt skip trace, and we’ll run that entire list. And I guarantee you, if you’re doing truly distressed properties and there’s hundreds or thousands of pieces of returned mail, you’re going to find out there are dead owners in there that you didn’t know about. That may kill the deal, may make it … Most generally, makes it that much better.
Matt: Kill the deal, no pun intended.
Larry: Yeah. And then you get all the relevant contact information that we can provide, phone numbers and … So you mail it to us, we would process it, or if you had the in-house capability, you could put it in the spreadsheet and send it to us. We do a bolt skip trace, and then the results you get: age, if we can tell you they’re deceased, we tell you that, the possible phone numbers for that person, possible email addresses if you want to try and email blast as well, address history, and what I call financial distress indicators: a count of liens, judgments and bankruptcies.
Matt: Got it, okay.
Larry: And on your end, it’s like, “Okay, great. I had a thousand pieces of returned mail. Great, you’re getting me all these phone numbers. What the hell do I do know?” That’s the second half of the equation. I’m always leery of that, ’cause people are like, “Yeah, I want to run this huge list.” Maybe it’s not returned mail. They just want to start cold calling.
Larry: You’ve ever done that?
Matt: [00:12:32]. Well, you know what’s old is new again, so that seems to be the big trend right now is the cold call, so that was going to be the second part of my question. But just to back up a little bit, so you would do a bulk skip trace and send back that list with all updated mailing addresses so they could resend, right?
Larry: Well, it’s the address history. So with addresses and skip tracing we can’t tell you exactly where they are right now. We can say, “Here are your options.” But most people I would say you look can be based off of the mailing address you had and what’s in their address history and make a pretty good assumption of what a good address is. But nobody can tell you for sure exactly where that person is, especially if they have a vacation home, like a beach house, or PO boxes and things like that involved, it can look like they’re at multiple places at once.
Matt: Right, right. Okay, so I send you one card, you send me back say four potential different mailing addresses. So what is your advice or what is the practice to try and reach that person? Do you have to go through each one of those individually, do you just mail them all again?
Larry: You could go through individually and pick a new address and mail, based off of using that scenario I laid out. The vast majority of people that use us, I think we’ve had two people that were really just looking for addresses. Everybody else has said, “You know what? I’ll just try and call them.” So that’s not something I see a lot of, but that’s how we work that when that is the end goal.
Matt: Got it. So with that [00:14:06] option, I would think … I would lean on the side of just mailing all the addresses, even if I’m just sending out four pieces trying to hit one person. That just seems like… What I’m talking about right now very few people would take the time to do, so it’s probably still mailing the four pieces could have a really good ROI ’cause nobody else is reaching them.
Larry: That’s what I call the overkill approach, not in a bad way, but I do that. When I see your very distressed vacant house, it’s obviously abandoned, huge tax delinquency or something like that, I don’t just pull a report on the owner. I pull a report on the owner, husband, wife, sisters, parent. I call it overkill ’cause I know certain types of properties, it’s hard to reach those people for various reasons. I don’t mess around. It’s like, “We’re going to call grandma if we have to, but we’re going to get in touch with somebody.” So I like your approach. The idea’s pretty good, just mail all the addresses.
Matt: Yep, yep. I mean, at 33 cents, so I spent a dollar 20 on a higher-quality lead, probably not a bad investment.
Okay, there’s that. So let’s talk about the cold calling, ’cause you provide the phone numbers as well, and I’m pretty sure just address history, you get a phone number history as well, so you don’t know exactly which phone number’s going to be the one. Is that right?
Larry: Correct. So on average, we have probably about six phone numbers per person. Sometimes it’s only one. Some people that you see have 12 or 15. They tend to be more unstable, and you’ll see that if you look at the liens and judgments, they may have a bunch of them. You’ll get prepaid Cricket phone numbers and places of employment like nail salons and tire shops, ’cause these people, they just keep changing numbers, so that’s the case there.
Matt: Okay. So then the strategy with the people, the cold calling, will those load all of those phone numbers in and just start calling and asking, right?
Larry: Yeah. And depending on your volume, we have people that are just starting out and they’re driving for dollars, and so it’s a manageable volume. They’re just using their cell phone and manually dialing. Others, when you’re doing these larger lists, they’re using autodialers, which tremendously speeds that process up, rather than manually putting in all those numbers.
Matt: Yeah. I have a history with those autodialers. They are very quick. You can make your hundred dials in about 10 minutes, and talk to the four people that were home.
Okay, so great, so we got the direct mail thing, we got the phone number thing. What are some of the other strategies or applications for your service? Am I missing anything?
Larry: That’s the data and kind of what we provide. For some people … The people that are at a higher volume, and they’re doing 100, 200 deals a year or more, they’re not going to take the time to dig in on some types of deals. Other people will, and they’re willing to put in the effort where it gets outside of … I’ve gone so far as to hire a genealogist to help me find relatives because it was extremely worth it. I don’t spend much money on marketing. I’ll pay her $200. It’s a marketing cost. But to know when to do that, how to do that, how to really dig in, how to find the hard-to-find, things like that, sometimes you have to get outside of skip tracing and get into other resources. So we have a weekly phone call. It’s me on the call every Wednesday night, and I’m there to help people, whether it’s an overall strategy or, “Hey, I’ve got this house. It’s vacant, the owner’s dead. I can’t find any relatives. What do I do?” And just walk them through that process.
Matt: Got it.
Larry: With skip tracing, it’s hard to say, “Step one, two, three.” It can be, “Well if this, then that. If this, then that.” I could put a flow chart on my wall and fill it up.
Matt: Right, right right. I understand. Okay. Yeah, so I came to this conversation with you, kind of on purpose not to know too much about what it is that you do so that I could just come from a real fresh brain in asking my questions. Is there anything that I should be asking, or is additional things that you do or that we should know?
Larry: So, there are different types. I’m talking about what we do as far as our service. Some people only want phone numbers, and there are options for that out there, where it’s more of a data appending thing. You get lower-quality data, but if your goal is to say, “I just want to call 20,000 property owners,” you’re trying to get pennies data at two, three, four cents a search, that kind of thing. On the execution end, you can get creative on, using this data, how you try and market to people. We’ve talked about letters and phone calls. I’m sure you’ve seen ringless voicemails pick up in popularity.
Larry: That’s a time saver, and so you can just load everything up, send that message out, but there are constraints to that in that you can’t have a very tailored message when you’re sending the exact same voicemail to a thousand people.
Matt: Correct, correct.
Larry: But it is, if it’s a truly motivated seller, my view is it kind of gets the low-hanging fruit. So if you’re starting a campaign of calling, before you start calling, send the ringless voicemail out, see who calls you back, then start your calling. Other people will … I haven’t done this yet, but you can take the email addresses we provide you, and you can load them into Facebook, and if that email address is associated with that person’s account; they have a Facebook account and that email address is associated with it, then you can start running targeted ads to them. That’s something I need to get smart on and really want to start playing with that. I just haven’t done it yet.
Matt: Yeah, so yeah, we do that already, so yes, that would work. And I can’t believe I even overlooked that. So you get emails, you get phone numbers, so you get the actual addresses. The other thing that we could do with that is you can load a Google service where you can find their IP address for the actual physical address of the house and do it [00:20:31] that way. Cool.
Larry: Yeah, and then say … In some places, you can pull a list of estates. So they’re not on our probate, but it’s an estate. So, another type of report we have is obviously that person is deceased. You can’t reach them. We have what we call a relationship report. So we don’t give you all the addresses of the relatives, but we can give you a ton of relatives that show up as likely relatives for that deceased owner, and phone numbers for all of his relatives. That’s a pretty handy list to have any time you know you’re dealing with deceased relatives and just allows you to speed up that process of contacting somebody.
Matt: Got it. I’m going through your frequently asked questions here on your website. The website’s skipgenie.com, by the way. So you have scripts. So if someone has never done cold calling, ’cause we kind of think we talked about that. I don’t know if we’d hit the record button or not when we mentioned that, but someone that’s never done that before, what’s the history behind your scripts? ’cause there are so many different approaches that you can take. Do you have a certain approach that you have found that’s worked best?
Larry: The history is had a lot of painfully awkward and bad calls when I started out.
Matt: Yes, any of us that have done that before, we do.
Larry: Yeah, ’cause when I started, when I started kind of going down this path, I never had a script. I was just winging it. And then through repetition and learning, having some calls go sideways and badly, I just tweaked it over time. But our overall approach is to not sound like a business, to sound like just an average person, like, “Hi, my name is Larry. I was just interested in buying this property.” So I don’t do any calls anymore, but when I did, intentional pauses and hesitations, and kind of coming, especially if I don’t know I don’t have the right person, just come out and tell, “Hey, I’m not sure if I have the right number or not, but my name’s Larry, and I was trying to get in touch with Bob about the house I think he owns over off Main Street. Again, I know this is kind of out of the blue, but just wanted to see if he had any interest in selling it.” Just like that.
Larry: And my goal is for them to be comfortable. People tend to be more open and comfortable if they’re dealing with a person rather than a business. And the vast majority of times, nobody even asked us our company name. If they do, then we overwhelm them with credibility, drive them to the website, Better Business Bureau and all that.
Matt: You let them open that door though.
Larry: Yeah, exactly.
Matt: Got it. Well, I can tell you’ve done it before already because that’s exactly how I’d recommend it. I like the “Aw, shucks” approach, like, “Gosh, I hate making these calls, and I’ve had to make two of them today, and they didn’t go well. Hopefully, this goes a lot better. Is Bob there?”
Larry: And some people you kind of come across as a little needy in some circumstances, and people will want to help, even if it’s not the right person, but they know how to … I’ll give you an example. I got in touch with a lady the other day. It was actually the owner’s mom. [00:23:39], “Oh, sweetie, no no no, this is her mom. Now, don’t you worry about that. You didn’t know. I’ll tell you what. Here’s Sharonda’s [00:23:45] phone number,” blah blah blah. “You tell her you talked to…” [crosstalk 00:23:50]
Matt: You know, it’s funny. My philosophy is, if you sound in trouble, a lot of people will come out and rescue you.
Larry: And do you know John Martine [00:23:59]? You probably know John.
Matt: I know John very well, yeah.
Larry: The “Okay/Not Okay Principle.”
Matt: Oh yeah, that’s-
Larry: Yeah, I was doing that before I knew what it was called, in that specific phone call, and just be needy, be in need of help. [00:24:12]
Matt: Yeah, I think that’s David Sandler is the one that originated that or pioneered it at least.
Larry: Yeah, yeah.
Matt: The Sandler Sales Institute.
Larry: Okay, now I know what that it. But it’s very effective.
Matt: It’s very effective, absolutely. Well super. Let’s see … anything else I’m supposed to … I mean, pricing, how do you … Do you want to share how the pricing works?
Larry: So we don’t do just individual one-off searches. Most people are routinely doing stuff with us, and it’s a membership. So two different levels. One’s 47 a month, and one’s 97 a month, and at 47 a month, it’s $1.50 a search, and at 97 it’s 95 cents. And with that you get, we can do the bolt skip tracing, send us the returned mail, access to our weekly phone calls and our scripts and things like that.
Matt: Okay, so those monthly subscriptions, those are the different prices per search. That includes a service of just sending you all my postcards and you do it?
Larry: Well you still pay per search, but you can send it to us … We do give you free searches. At 97 we give you 25 free searches a month. If you’re sending in 1,000 postcards, it’s not going to make a huge difference.
Matt: Right. And I was thinking more along the lines of the data entry part. Is there a difference if I do the data entry, create my own spreadsheet, or if I just send you the postcards and let you do it?
Larry: Yes, so okay. I apologize. I almost got off track there. So when you send in the mail, there is a … It goes from 95 cents a search, [00:25:50] process it, and off the top of my head, I don’t know the number but I think it goes up to $1.35, and I apologize for not knowing that, but if you send us the spreadsheet, then it’s just a normal search rate. A lot of people just kind of do the math like, “Hey, I’d spend this much time and labor processing it,” and they just make a decision from there.
Matt: Got it. Okay. Super. Well, it’s been a pleasure Larry. Anything else that I need to know or ask?
Larry: I could go off down a lot of rabbit holes with this. [00:26:26].
Matt: What it is, so we can skip trace, meaning you can search people, their history, their background as far as where they lived, what their phone number was, what their possible email is. We went over some of the different strategies of how to use that. We went over the costs. We went over how to work with you. We got your website is skipgenie.com. By the way, I signed up as an affiliate for you. I’ll be promoting that inside the Epic Pro Academy, so if you are listening as a podcaster and you want to help me keep the lights on over here, go to epicskiptrace.com. Epicskiptrace.com will take you right to Skipgenie, or you can just go straight to Larry. Either way is fine with me. I want you to get this service. But let’s see, what else?
Larry: If they go to skipgenie.com, if anybody wants to do a test search to see how the … Because we do the bulk skip tracing, but we also have a dashboard that you can log into and do your searches on your own, so if you go to skipgenie.com, a box pops up offering you a free search. You just enter your email, and then we’ll create the account for you, and you’ll get a search and kind of get a feel for that process.
Matt: Oh sweet. Okay. Well, that’s a good service. That’ll give you a good test run. Let’s see. Had a basic report cost, then we got the relationship reports that you talked about. You do bulk processing, you’ll do the data entry if they need it. We just talked about the Skipgenie dashboard. Let’s see. What do you mean by “unlimited submissions for the perfectionist plan”? What does that mean?
Larry: So some people need to submit multiple lists during a week. At 47 a month, you can send us one list a week and we can process it for you. At the perfectionist plan of 97 you can send us two lists a day, once a day, just we’re committing to processing that as often as you need.
Matt: Got it, got it. And then, let’s see. Cancel subscription after last billing cycle, duh-duh-duh-duh-duh, how do you cancel? You just make it simple, just click cancel, got it. Alright, all looks good. And you’re in Texas, so we’ve got local mailing rates apply when you send in your postcards. It’s pretty straightforward. I’m trying to search for more to talk about, but I think it’s pretty simple.
Larry: Yeah, talking about the service is pretty straightforward. When you get into skip tracing strategies, that’s where I’ll go off on tangents and rabbit holes.
Matt: I’ll see.
Larry: I will say, for your audience, it’s generally people who are doing this it’s either the newer investor driving for dollars with a tight budget, and there are things we can show you to help prioritize and make the most effective use of your limited time and budget. Other people, it’s just a returned mail. Other people say, “Hey, I want to start a true cold calling operation,” and we can work with you on different lists and how to create better lists and things like that.
Matt: Got it, got it. Sweet. Well Larry, it’s been a pleasure. If I have any other questions or anything, maybe I’ll give you a quick call and you can answer those questions for us and we’ll go from there. Alright? Thanks for putting together a service that I think is much in demand and was very much needed for what we do.
Larry: I appreciate that. I’ve been there. This didn’t come about by accident. I had a lot of those same pains, and as we became more and more proficient at it, of what we were doing, I just recognized there’s so much frustration and true demand out there for something like this.
Matt: Yep. You couldn’t have come up with this idea if you weren’t in the trenches at some degree.
Larry: I had some growing pains, I can tell you that much, but yeah.
Matt: Right. Alright Larry, thank you and it was a pleasure talking to you. We’ll talk soon.
Larry: Thanks Matt.
Matt: You bet. Take care.
Alrighty, that’s it for today. If you like what you heard, check Larry out over at epicskiptrace.com. Epicskiptrace.com, if it makes sense for you, give it a shot. And next week I have another phone conversation that I’m going to play for you with something that makes the perfect compliment for Larry’s service. Alrighty, God bless, to your success, I’m Matt Theriault. Living the dream. [00:30:34]