The success of a real estate investor’s marketing campaign is determined by the audience and the message. To run a successful campaign, you need to start by identifying the prospects with the most potential and creating lists based on their attributes.

There are two kinds of prospect lists—general lists and niche lists. Spending time creating both is a great way to find your focus and identify the prospects you have the best chance of converting to leads.

General Lists

The most accessible type is general lists. Real estate professionals widely use general lists because they are easy to access and faster to build. This means that if you only develop and use general lists, you will face more competition and have lower results. General lists are just that, general.

General lists include absentee lists, equity lists, senior lists, related party lists, small house lists, and trust lists.

You can pull any type of general list through Invelo’s List Builder. On Invelo, you can comb through millions of properties and sort them based on various criteria. In addition, many general lists are pre-built into the List Builder, so an investor can build one just by identifying their desired area and clicking.

Niche Lists

Niche lists will target the specific situations that usually indicate a sale may occur. These lists take time to assemble but produce better results. Fewer investors take the time to pull these lists, which means you’ll see less competition.

Code Violation List. A code violation is what an owner receives when their property is not up to building code or other local codes. This could be due to the property being uninhabitable, or it could be as simple as overgrown grass in the yard. You can obtain this information at the Building Department’s office or by submitting an FOIA request.

Deceased, Probate, and Inheritance Lists. A deceased list includes properties where the owner has died; a probate list contains properties that are being held up in the probate process; and an inheritance list means the property has gone through the estate process and transferred to the representative. Both probate and inheritance lists can be pulled through Many other investors will pull them, but they are still considered high quality.

Driving for Dollars. Get in your car (or hire someone to get in their car) and drive around your desired neighborhoods, looking for rundown or distressed properties. This is not a quick-pull list, but it can be an excellent asset to build over time. Of course, you’ll want to eventually drive every street of every neighborhood in your area to ensure you’ve covered all distressed-looking houses.

Expansion List. An expansion list is comprised of properties on oversized lots—the perfect list for builders. Look for these through online public records, where you can search by smaller houses built on a lot twice the size of a conforming lot.

Eviction List. Eviction lists can be challenging to generate, depending on your state and how they report eviction notices. Some states have online court records that will show you the eviction notices. Others require you to go to the courthouse.

Fire House List. The fire house list is one that many investors don’t have experience with. This kind of list includes homes damaged in house fires. In most areas, this list can be obtained from your city or county’s firehouse through an FOIA request.

State Lien List. Not all states have this, but in Massachusetts, for example, if someone owes the state more than $25,000, their name is placed in an online database. Typically, you’ll gain access to the individual’s name, the amount they owe, and the town where they live. With this information, you can search to find out whether the individual owns property in that town through the town’s or county’s online public records database. If they do and the property type meets your criteria, keep them on the list.

Tax Lien List. Tax lien lists identify individuals who owe back property taxes to their town or county. Creating this list may take some patience and back and forth with your local treasury department. You will need to submit an FOIA request for this information, but expect some pushback because some departments may not want to provide it. Keep only those that have been delinquent long enough to be close to having the state take their property.

Vacancy List. Did you know the United States Postal Service generates a list of properties they deem unoccupied? Vacancy lists are easy to generate because Invelo’s List Builder has a connection to this data that is automatically updated daily. In addition, it’s another high-quality list, because these properties are usually just collecting tax bills, so the owner is generally motivated to sell.

Zoning List. Much like the expansion list, this list uses zoning as its key identifier. You’ll want to look for properties in zoning areas that allow for expansion, especially in cities and suburbs. This list has great potential if you are interested in condo development or conversions.

Take Time, See Results

General and niche lists are essential in building a successful marketing machine. This part of the process requires time and finesse, but it is critical in building your marketing. If you put the time in, you won’t need to repeat this process unless you’re expanding into another area or need to refresh a list months down the line.

Justin Silverio is the owner of JS2 Homes, Open Letter Marketing, and Invelo. He has been investing in real estate since 2011, focusing on rehabbing, new construction, wholesaling, and multifamily condo conversions.

Silverio founded Open Letter Marketing in 2016 to provide a more effective direct-to-seller marketing strategy than other outdated methods. OLM is now recognized as one of the top real estate investor marketing companies and was ranked on the Inc 5000 fastest-growing companies list.

Silverio’s newest venture, Invelo, is a next-generation platform that spans an investor’s full sales and marketing cycle. The platform is designed to provide an optimal path to success for investors through education and high-powered software. Users can also take actionable steps to improve their business through the platform’s Academy, which includes real estate investor training and professionally taught masterclasses.


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