4 Simple List Building Strategies for Real Estate Investors

Now that you've done the work to choose a niche (if you haven't done so already, stop reading and choose your niche) you may be asking yourself...

"Ok, Great. I've got a niche, but how do I find my list?"

That is what this chapter is going to address.

Before we dive deep, there are 2 things you must understand:

  1. The best lists are always the hardest to get (read: If the list is easy to get, you can bet everyone already has it!)
  2. Depending on your market, how you get your list will vary. You will understand why that is later in this chapter.

Alright, now that we're all on the same page, let's talk about how to build a list for your real estate investing business.

This list will be an asset that you will be able to use for weeks, months, and sometimes years to come.

The shelf life of your list will depend on the type of seller you are targeting.

For example: If you choose to target probate or absentee owners, you can market to your list for many months, and sometimes even years.

The reason is this...

Many times, a person who inherited a house, or someone who owns a rental property does not NEED to sell their property immediately.

They may want to, but they don't NEED to.

Let's compare that to someone facing foreclosure.

The seller has a very small window of time in which they can sell their house, due to the impending foreclosure and auction date.

A seller in foreclosure may have high motivation to sell, but you will only be able to market to them for about 4 - 6 weeks depending on your market.

Therefore, the shelf life of a probate or absentee owner list is much longer than a foreclosure list.

This is important to know before you start your marketing campaign because it will inform the frequency at which you send mail, ringless voicemail, text, etc.

With that said.

Here are 4 common ways to find a list of motivated sellers.

1. A list broker

A list broker is simply a person or company who sells data.

This data can be wide-ranging, but in this case, you want to look for a specific set of data.

More specifically, data that would suggest a person is motivated to sell their house.

This can be tracked by life events (death or divorce), ownership status (high equity or non-owner occupied), financial situations (foreclosure or tax liens), etc.

Since you already know you're niche, now you just need to know how to find your data.

Many times, list brokers will provide support, and help you pull a list as long as you know the type of list you are looking for.

For example, if you want to find a list of landlords, you can use a list broker like to pull that list.

Simply choose a geographical area and select only properties that are absentee owned.

You have a tremendous amount of power when it comes to filtering down your list.

For the list you see below, I chose to use any property within a 10-mile radius of 63139.

From there, I chose to filter that list down to only properties that are absentee-owned.

That gave me a list size of over 79k properties.

This list is far too large for my liking, so I will continue to filter it down.

As you can see in the image above, both in state and out of state owners are included in that list of 79k.

The next logic filter would be to remove all in-state owners.

This will drop the list substantially, but it will also give me a more motivated list since the property owners do not live in the same state as the property they manage.

You can see here the difference it makes when you filter your list down to absentee owners that also live out of state.

It drops the list down to just 8,000 properties. That is a massive difference!

And you can continue to filter this list down until you get to a list size that is manageable for the size of your business.

2. The Courthouse

This is going to vary from county to county, but many times you can find a list of motivated sellers at the courthouse.

But here's the thing, you can't just stroll up to the front desk and ask for the latest list of motivated sellers.

Unfortunately, it doesn't work like that.

Just like using a list broker, you have to know what you're looking for, and how to ask for it.

Common lists you can find at the courthouse are:

  • Probate
  • Tax Liens
  • Divorce
  • Foreclosure

If you're new to finding leads at the courthouse, many times it helps to simply go to the front desk and ask who you can speak to find the most up to date list of probate, delinquent tax, or foreclosure cases.

3. The Newspaper

Depending on your niche, you may be able to find a list of leads in the newspaper or the local business journal.

In many markets, you can subscribe to local publications, like the business journal, and you will receive a weekly paper that will include recent probate cases and pre-foreclosures.

Remember, sometimes the best list you can get is one that requires a little bit of work.

Just because this is not a big list that you can download to your computer in a matter of seconds, doesn't mean it's one you should ignore.

Spend an hour or two while you drink your morning coffee, or have a member of your team or your VA go through this list every week and add each property to a spreadsheet.

You can then upload that spreadsheet to REI BlackBook, and voila, you have a fresh new list that you can market to every week!

4. Driving For Dollars

Driving for dollars might just be the single best list you can find.

However, it does have its downfalls.

While you can find great leads and deals driving for dollars, it does take time, and it's not always scalable.

Again, that doesn't mean you should discount this type of list building strategy.

Anytime you hop in your car to drive across town or take your dog for a walk, is an opportunity to add properties to your "list".

Look for houses that appear to be vacant, or run down.

Signs of a vacant house are high grass, overflowing mailboxes, old or chipped paint, etc.

In REI BlackBook, you can create a simple landing page that you can save to the home screen of your smartphone.

When you're out, and you see a property that looks vacant, simply open that landing page, and punch in the address.

This will add the property to your property pipeline, and immediately trigger a reminder for you, or your team member to research the new property.

It will also be added to your "Driving For Dollars" list in REI BlackBook.

Now that you know how to what niche you want to target, and how to find a list, it's time to talk about how you're going to reach them.

In other words, how are you going to market to this list?

At REI BlackBook, we have identified 9 different ways to market to motivated sellers.

In the following chapters, you which marketing strategy is best for you based on the following criteria:

  • Technology - how much technical "know-how" will it take to execute
  • Financial investment - how much money will it "cost" to execute
  • Speed to results - how long will it take to generate leads
  • Lead quality - how qualified are the leads that you will receive
  • Scalability - how well does the marketing strategy scale

Let's get started!