Real estate investing is a numbers game; it always has been and always will be. The more leads investors are able to generate, the more likely they are to secure a deal. Note that highly targeted marketing campaigns have demonstrated an increased propensity for higher success rates. Investors who want to find tax delinquent properties, for example, are better off identifying a target audience and tailoring a message that addresses their specific needs. In fact, learning how to find tax delinquent properties in your area is perhaps one of the best ways to acquire real estate deals.
Information on property owners who have neglected to keep up with their tax obligations is made available to the public. As a result, anyone with an interest in their delinquent homeowner counterparts simply needs to know where to look. Not surprisingly, the search process should start online, where investors should pay special considerations to one specific outlet: their local tax assessor’s website.
Coincidently, each municipality—or local government—has either an appointed or elected tax assessor who is tasked with determining the value of each taxable property in a given neighborhood. Therefore, it stands to reason that they’ll have access to the tax records of the homes that fall within their jurisdiction.
The amount of information available on the tax assessor’s website will vary by location. Some states don’t make tax delinquent information available to the public, while some charge a fee to view the data. As a result, investors will need to check with their own state laws to determine whether or not they can find tax delinquent properties on their tax assessor’s website.
Savvy investors should be able to compile a list of delinquent homeowners in a respective neighborhood; those who are at least one year behind on their taxes. The resulting list should serve as a source of time-sensitive leads. More often than not, delinquent property owners have a pressing need to address their current situation, which may result in motivated sales. That said, delinquent tax lists aren’t available in every state or municipality. Those who aren’t granted access to a tax delinquent property list may have to try alternative strategies.
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When it comes to obtaining delinquent tax lists, it is important to remember that each state and municipality will have their own set of rules for information procurement. In the event your area doesn’t allow curated online lists of delinquent tax properties, you’ll need to think outside of the box. Fortunately, doing so isn’t very difficult. Sometimes gaining access to a delinquent properties list is as simple as calling the closest tax assessor; just because the information isn’t available online doesn’t mean you can’t ask over the phone.
Obtaining a tax delinquent property list has proven incredibly beneficial to lead-seeking investors who prefer to work with motivated sellers. Few homeowners prove to be more motivated than those who are behind on their taxes; their situation typically justifies a timely and efficient sale. It is worth noting, however, that not all municipalities share the same policies regarding delinquent taxes. There are a great deal of local governments that don’t place an emphasis on tax-delinquent foreclosures, or even how often they are pursued. Some tax delinquent homeowners are more motivated than others (depending on where they live).
On the other hand, if tax delinquencies are acted upon in a swift and decisive manner, real estate investors may be able to help motivated sellers get rid of their properties in a timely fashion. In the event tax delinquencies serve as a significant motivating factor, there are a number of things investors can do with their property lists.
Gaining access to a list of tax delinquent homeowners is a critical step, but it’s the first step of many. Once investors have acquired a list of potentially motivated sellers, they must then broadcast their message in order to increase their exposure. More specifically, they must market to the newly acquired leads.
One of the best ways to market to a list of motivated homeowners is to initiate a direct mail campaign. Otherwise known as a drip campaign, direct mail marketing is used to maintain consistent contact with the homeowners on a respective list. Consequently, a direct mail campaign is designed to continuously place an investor’s company and message in front of prospective sellers. As an effective drip campaign platform, direct mail allows investors to target a specific audience with a specific message, which is what makes this type of marketing so effective. Investors who have already acquired a tax delinquent property list most likely know the extenuating circumstances motivating their leads. Likewise, they’ll be able to tailor their messages to speak specifically to their recipients.
As the name suggests, a drip campaign is designed to ease recipients into a specific company’s message. Instead of sending countless letters, one right after the other, investors will want to slowly increase their exposure in a way that is neither forgettable or intrusive. That said, it’s a good idea to send about five pieces of mail to each contact on the list. That way, homeowners will have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with an investor gradually and over time, but not at a rate that becomes too costly or annoying.
Here’s a quick outline of what a direct mail campaign will look like for tax delinquent property owners:
First Mailing: The first mailing should consist of postcards because they are easy and inexpensive. Perhaps even more importantly, nothing needs to be opened for the recipient to be able to read the message.
Second Mailing: The second mailing should take the form of a yellow letter, which is exactly what it sounds like: a tailor-made message written on a yellow piece of lined paper. The color tends to elicit a greater response and stands out from the competition.
Third Mailing: The third piece of mail the lead should receive is a handwritten letter with a personal message; it shouldn’t sound like it’s coming from a big company.
Fourth Mailing: The fourth mailing will be a professional looking letter on a company letterhead.
Fifth Mailing: The fifth mailing should detail the benefits of working with the investor. For example, now is the time to let the seller know why selling to you is a good idea.
It is rare for a direct mail campaign to elicit a response with a single mailing, which is why it is important to send at least five unique pieces to each lead. In fact, a good response rate is a modest one or two percent; any investor who reaches five percent should consider themselves extremely lucky. Therefore, investors will want to aim for sending out about 3,000 pieces of mail each month if they expect to rely on incoming leads.
When all is said and done, direct mail marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways to find tax delinquent properties. The process awards investors the opportunity to simultaneously target a motivated audience with a message that is specifically tailored to their unique situation.
In addition to implementing a direct mail campaign to find tax delinquent properties, investors should also consider talking to property owners directly. Otherwise referred to as “door knocking,” this particular strategy lends itself particularly well to those who have a knack for personable conversations. As its name suggests, a proper “door knocking” marketing strategy will have investors identify potential leads and visit them in person. Investors aren’t advised to knock on every single door in a respective neighborhood, but rather on the doors of homes that are most likely to be owned by motivated sellers.
Sometimes identifying hot leads is as easy as looking at the home. More often than not, signs of neglect may suggest the owner is less than thrilled with the prospect of owning the subject property. Overgrown weeds, shrubs, and trees may serve as a dead giveaway. Other times, investors may need to find tax delinquent properties by using the strategies above. However, instead of mailing homeowners, they should pay a special visit to the property and introduce themselves.
Once at the property, it’s important to be completely transparent with your intentions. That means disclosing what you hope to accomplish by purchasing the home. More importantly, however, is the fact that you may be able to help them out of a troublesome situation. If the homeowner is indeed delinquent on their taxes, their best option may be selling to an investor. Above all else, be personable and professional. Remember, the owner is likely in a tough situation, so practice empathy whenever possible.
An investor’s ability to find tax delinquent properties is, without a doubt, a great accomplishment. Those who may have neglected to keep up with their tax obligations may demonstrate an increased propensity to sell. That said, converting tax delinquent leads into actual deals will require a bit of savvy marketing on each investor’s behalf. Only once investors can simultaneously find and market to tax delinquent property lists will this particular strategy pay off.
Acquiring a tax delinquent list of homeowners should represent one of many marketing funnels implemented by today’s real estate investors.
Tax delinquent properties represent prospective sellers who may be more motivated to rid themselves of their properties than non-distressed homeowners.
Delinquent tax lists aren’t that hard to acquire, but investors who act fast may find that they are offer some of today’s best leads in the real estate industry.