Real Estate Investing: Where Do I Get My Leads?
The most important part of real estate always comes back to finding leads. If you have no leads you have no deals and without deals you will make absolutely nothing. I know when I first started in real estate investing; I gave up real quickly because I could not get any leads. After putting up bandit signs and taking them down each and every weekend, I was not only exhausted, but I did not get any leads. Sure I had a few calls, but it was nowhere near the amount of calls that I had wanted. Now, that is not to say that bandit signs do not work because they absolutely do!
So, back to the topic: Where do I get my leads?
Bandit Signs do work. The success you will receive using bandit signs depends on a few things, mainly location, size, reach, and what the sign reads.
Location: Your signs need to be where people driving will actually have a chance to read the sign not just be able to see the sign. I have paid people to put up signs for me and I have never been as mad as I was when I was driving and saw one of my signs on the side of a 55mph road. There was no stop sign, no stop light, there was no reason why anyone driving on that road should ever see that sign. Clearly the best spots for signs are at 4 way stops that have a lot of traffic. Whether traffic stops for a stop light or a stop sign does not matter that much, but it does make a difference. Think about it! At a stop light everyone stops, the traffic backs up, and then everyone goes at the same time. Well, at least they are all hopefully moving slow at this point. But, if you can find a high congestion four way stop with a stop sign, everyone will see the sign. Every person must stop, then go, then stop, then go; until they actually reach the stop sign, they have plenty opportunity to read your sign and write down the number. So the keys to sign location are high congestion areas where traffic is forced to stop!
Size: Size is important. If your sign is too small to read from a distance, then the person reading the sign may not have time to get the number, which does you no good. One thing you could also do that may help in this situation is to have a website. Every real estate investor should have a website, but that is a whole different article. Make your website with a catchy name. It is much easier to remember a catchy name than a phone number. That is of course unless your phone number actually does spell something catchy. The point is, your sign needs to be big enough so that those driving by will take a few steps; first notice your sign, then read your sign, and then actually write down the number!
Reach: By reach I mean your signs need to be everywhere. The point is they may see the sign and be thinking about it. But when they see your signs all over town, it gets put into their heads. Not to mention if they missed the number, well they will see your sign again 200 yards down the road and have another opportunity to read the number. Believe me, when you start looking for bandit signs, you will notice a lot more than you thought.
What the sign reads: Now this is important and encompasses not only what the sign reads but how it is presented. If you are a foreclosure investor, get signs that say ?AVOID FORECLOSURE?. If you are a lease option investor, get signs that say ?We Buy Houses- We Take Over Payments?. The sign will work better and you will prescreen your callers by getting signs that meet the criteria of the deals you like to work. This is not to say that the standard ?WE BUY HOUSES? signs are bad. If you like to work any type of deal and want lots of calls, this is a good path for you. When I mentioned above how a sign is presented I mean color and shape. I recently saw signs near my home that were shaped like houses. This caught my attention and things like this may work for your area. People are starting to become accustomed to signs and not pay attention, but if your sign looks different, it will catch the eyes of more people.
The classifieds are another great place to look for leads. There are a few sections in the paper you will want to pay attention to. Namely you want to look in the FSBO section and the For Rent section.
FSBO: This section can lead you to good deals by directly contacting the owners. The owners of these houses may not be the best candidates, but if they have been running the same ad for months, they may be willing to take a discount on the home. You can usually go online and view the time length a property has been posted in the classifieds. By doing this you can weed out the newer listings with the older, but this is not to say that a newly posted classified does not have a motivated seller behind it. Also in the FSBO section, keep an eye out for numbers that are out of area. If you see this, you have found a winning ticket. If someone lives out of area they could have moved for a number of reasons but the fact is most people do not want to own homes other than the ones they live in currently. They could have been relocated for a job, gotten a divorce and moved, any number of reasons. If you see a number from an out of town area code, call immediately!
For Rent: In the For Rent section you will find a lot of burnt out landlords. Some landlords even have places you might be able to take over with existing positive cash flows but the landlord is just tired of being a landlord. If you can find a good lead in this section you may be able to get more than one home in a bulk deal. This is a great place to look for leads. Just call the landlord and start talking, more often then not they will spill there guts and you will have a great lead.
This one may not seem so important, but it can prove to be huge. Every time you talk to someone about your real estate investing business, give them three business cards. Why three? Because then that person has two that they can give out. This does not mean that they will but if you made a lasting impression, many people will pass your cards on. It is also important to have two sided business cards. Have your contact information on one side of the card and a short description of what you do. This is also a great way to get bird-dogs. You can put everything on the back, including what you do and then you should also add ?$500 finding fee paid to those who refer deals.? That one line right there will grow your business. The whole idea with business cards is to help your business grow through word of mouth. It works. If you are able to shock someone by what you do and have tons of enthusiasm they will pass the cards on. I know I have done exactly that many times and it has actually shaped the way in which I do business today.
Direct mail campaigns WORK. The problem is that you need to have some money to start out with. As real estate investors, especially getting started this is usually the problem. But when you have some money saved up direct mail can get people to call you! Post cards are generally better than envelopes, but if you use envelopes you should hand write everything. Now where do you get these leads? Well, from a number of sources (which can also generate general leads). You can get leads from the courthouse, local paper, list service providers, MLS, probate court, there are tons of ways to get leads that would be great candidates for a direct mail campaign.
This is a great source for motivated sellers. Make some calls and find out where you have to file for an eviction of a tenant (if you already don?t know). This is a great place because if someone is being evicted then they are not paying. If they are not paying the landlord still has to pay the monthly mortgage. And finally if they still have to make that mortgage but are having trouble due to a late tenant, you have a motivated seller. Call these people up and just start talking to them about there house or building. Say you were driving by, liked the house, and asked the tenant for the number. I don?t know where the conversation will go but you can easily come up with an excuse to start talking about the property. Right away you should be able to tell if they are a motivated seller. A lot of times you can tell by the tone in their voice.
These are just a few of the ways to get good, qualified leads for your real estate investing business. The important thing is that you get leads from multiple sources. If you have only one way of getting good leads and that source stops to produce, you are out of luck. But if you have 20 ways of generating leads and one source stops producing, your business will continue and eventually you will be able to replenish that source or get a new source.
About the Author: Ross Treakle is a real estate investor and an internet marketer. Ross has recently created a website for real estate investors. The website is quickly becoming a great resource for investors to educate themselves as well as find good, quality materials available on the internet. To find out more about Ross Treakle and his new website, visit us at http://www.reaudiotips.com