Do you prospect for houses in probate, or just wait and hope they contact you?
If you’ve read of the death of the homeowner in your geographic farm area, it seems a bit crass to keep mailing prospecting letters in their name. But if you want to list the home, you do need to make sure the heirs know you exist, and that you specialize in that neighborhood.
So what can you say to people who are in emotional turmoil, but charged with the details of settling an estate?
To reach them you’ll have to offer your sympathy, and be patient as they make the difficult decision to sell a loved one’s home. Your message has to make it clear that you’re available when they need your help – but it cannot be pushy.
You can offer to prepare a CMA for their attorney. You can also let them know that you have a list of reliable vendors who can help with everything from cleaning to yard care to keeping an eye on the house in their absence. In short – offer your assistance without asking for the listing. But of course, let them know that you'll be happy to do so if and when they're ready.
To ensure that your message is read, and not tossed with the day's junk mail, it might be best to simply write a brief note on a postcard.
This is not the time to use hard sell techniques.
I knew an agent once who thought she could get more listings by getting to the bereaved family members first, so she attended funerals to ask for listings. She didn’t get listings, but she sure got a lot of word-of-mouth advertising. Unfortunately for her, it was all negative.
So while you do want to contact people before they’ve listed with someone else, it pays to wait just a bit.
The safest course of action is to make your services known to the probate attorneys in your area. Show them that you’re a reliable agent and will serve their clients with care and compassion – while getting the job done. Then offer to do CMA's and ask them to refer families to you.
Once they give you a referral, you can write a letter that says “Your attorney, (name), asked me to get in touch…”