I've been asked many times where to find prospects for a direct mail campaign.
I always suggest subscribing to CoreLogic (Formerly F.A.R.E.S. ["First American Real Estate Solutions"]).
Then there's "Listsource.com", but that's expensive, too. Especially if you are sifting for a lot of variables. AND really especially, if they haven't "abstracted" the data recently...and you mail to a bunch of dead ends.
However, after explaining that it's going to cost them about $1,500 hundred dollars a year for that subscription, or maybe $1,000 for a good list, their eyes glaze over.
Newbies mostly don't realize that this is just the cost of doing business consistently, and routinely.
CORELOGIC is not just for compiling mailing lists however. It's also for searching property and comp information before we commit to buying.
For example, I check out their (the prospect's) property profile (this time thoroughly) to see if that prospect still "qualifies" for my program before I meet with the prospect. If the property fails to qualify anymore, I cancel our appointment. What disqualifies a prospect is usually a recent refinance, a new A.R.M.-bomb loan (negative amortization, adjustable loan that spikes to 12%, etc.)
Fortunately, there are other alternatives for compiling a mailing list that can be just as helpful, and practically free for the newbie (or the cheap!).
Here's a step-by-step method I used to jump start a shoe string direct mail campaign several years ago.
I'll be writing editorially hereafter.
We went to the local title company and asked for their sales rep. We explained that we needed assistance from them in assembling a "farm package". These folks knew exactly what that meant. Title companies routinely assist agents and mortgage brokers in putting together "farm packages".
So what is a farm package? This is a specific mailing list that only includes prospects with a certain profile. For instance, mortgage brokers want lists of prospects that are due for a refi, or would likely want to create an equity line of credit. Agents want lists of those who've owned their homes for a period of years, that would allow them to list their homes for sale when the time comes.
Our farm packages usually included all those with purchase money mortgages that were less than two years old and showed at least 10% of equity, or more, at the time of refinance, or purchase. These folks are the most likely to get in trouble with their debt load, as discussed in a previous post.
So the title company culls out our custom farm package (prospect list) that includes only certain LTV's at purchase, a certain length of loan (by date of Record of Transfer), by zip code, house size, lot size, etc. We wanted a very precise profile that was nearly identical from prospect to prospect. That way we knew exactly what every prospect that called us was likely to own, and it made determining values extremely easy.
BTW, the title company doesn't offer us farm packages for free just because they can't think of anything else to give away. This information actually COSTS them money to provide. Remember the $1,500 or so, we're saving by not subscribing to FARES? Well, somebody paid for this information, because there's no free lunch in this world.
As a result, we made sure the sales representative knew that we were committed to them exclusively to handle our closing and insurance needs when we sold our properties; and we ensured that their "small" investment in us would pay off in an "obscene" fashion eventually! Of course we don't come out and say that exactly, obviously!
To sum it up, we established a relationship with a title company. We let them know that we plan to bring all our title insurance work to them in return for help in assembling a custom farm package.
So, title companies can be very helpful in assembling our custom farm packages, and save us a bunch of money up front --- just for bringing them all our business. Not a bad trade off, huh?