Does anyone work this niche?

Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

There's one real estate niche I haven't seen mentioned on any of the Active Rain posts I read. Of course I know somebody is working it, because somebody prompted me to write a prospecting letter set and once in a while someone else purchases that set, but it doesn't have the popularity of some of the other sets - like the short sale letters.

So I'm wondering - is this a niche that most agents avoid?

If so, is it because it deals with a subject that most people want to avoid?

What am I talking about? Listing probate houses. older home in probate

This week I've been writing copy for power point slides for an investor who will be teaching a class on probate investing. Thus, I've been thinking about it a lot.

It seems like a niche that could give an agent a guaranteed supply of listings if they went about it correctly. As in - if they offered a comprehensive service and proved to a probate attorney or three that they were worthy of referrals.

You can also go after the listings one at a time, by doing research in the probate files at the courthouse, or subscribing to a probate leads service. But getting them referred to you is quicker!

Probate houses could also be a good source of listings for an agent willing to help an investor. In the class I'm writing about, the instructor stresses the need to have a good agent as well as a reliable home inspector.

The agent helps him buy right and then helps him price his houses to sell quickly. Of course his agent gets all of his listings in exchange for her good advice when he's buying. She also gets his business when he buys bank owned homes or other fixers.

If you'd like to list houses in probate but aren't sure how to approach the sellers, try my Probate Prospecting Letters. They have a soft approach that stresses the service you give rather than your desire to have the listing. And in addition to letters to heirs/executors, the set includes a series of 6 postcards designed to get those attorneys to give you a try.

There are dozens of niches to choose from - could this one be right for you?




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  1. Evelyn Kennedy 08/02/2012 01:57 AM
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Debbie Reynolds
Platinum Properties - Clarksville, TN
Your Dedicated Clarksville TN Real Estate Agent

Marte, I don't work this but we have a couple of older agents in town that know lots of the founding fathers and visit the funeral homes. It works for them.

Aug 01, 2012 09:22 AM #24
C. Lloyd McKenzie
Albuquerque, NM
Living Albuquerque

Good Evening Marti,

That is certainly a great idea. Thanks for bringing it to our attention


Aug 01, 2012 10:08 AM #25
Bryan Robertson
Los Altos, CA

I have a new relationship with an attorney who has asked for my help with probate listings but I have yet to actually get a listing.  We'll see if it goes anywhere.

Aug 01, 2012 10:34 AM #26
Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Marte I haven't specifically gone after probate listings but have worked quite a few over the years - referrals from clients mainly.  Interesting post...and has much value in AZ with all of our senior communities.  We're working short sale marketing now...and your idea just may work out in the near future.  Very interesting - thanks for the idea.

Aug 01, 2012 11:16 AM #27
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

I do know of an agent that would attend funeral services in their town and in the sympathy card, a little note that they could also help them wiht their probate issues if any.

Aug 01, 2012 11:25 AM #28
Melissa Marro
Keller Williams First Coast Realty - The Marro Team - Orange Park, FL
Jacksonville Real Estate and Home Staging

Thank you for the idea. I'm off to go check out your letters...

Aug 01, 2012 12:21 PM #30
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Debbie - That would be too soon for me. But at least it gives them a heads up on who might be needing their services soon.

C. Lloyd - Thanks. Always glad to give people more things to consider.

Bryan - If that attorney starts giving your name to clients who need an agent, it should!

Anna - If you're working short sales, I think now is a good time to start developing a second niche. After all, this can't last forever. (Or can it? )

Ed - That can backfire. If you follow the link to my probate letters page, you'll see a story about how an agent alienated old friends - and I got the listing.

Erica - Once those attorneys know you'll take good care of their clients, you're in!

Melissa - Any time you need another idea, just holler!

Aug 01, 2012 01:32 PM #31
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Marte - This is an interesting niche and something that I seem to be working in this year.

Aug 01, 2012 04:13 PM #32
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Christine - If it turns out to be a niche you like, you can pursue it and become "the" expert.

Aug 01, 2012 04:21 PM #33
Iris Stuart
none - Santa Rosa, CA

I'm bookmarking your post for future reference, Marte.  I intend to pursue probate sales as a niche after we move back home.  I have established relationships with many of the local attorneys because I specialized in probate procedure during my many years of working in the court system.  Seems like a natural fit to me.  

Aug 01, 2012 05:46 PM #34
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

I have worked with two attorneys in the past but nothing has come of it lately.  I guess nobody is dying intestate...

Aug 01, 2012 06:13 PM #35
Phil Leng
Retired - Kirkland, WA
Phil Leng - Retired

Hi Marte,

There was an agent in my office who did nothing else.

He made a great living doing this.

However, he got 4-6 very angry people each year, upset that he would try to cash in on the death of their loved one.


Aug 01, 2012 08:19 PM #36
Chris and Dick Dovorany
Homes for Sale in Naples, Bonita Springs and Estero, Florida - Naples, FL
Broker/Associate at Premiere Plus Realty

Very good point.  I would never think to contact any attorney for business but it sure makes sense.

Aug 02, 2012 12:46 AM #37
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


Most of my sales involve probate, trust or conservatorship sales.  I have an advantage in that my husband is a an attorney who handles trusts, will, medi-cal and conservatorships.  Our friends include other attorneys who have the same type of practice.  I have contacted other attorneys asking them for referrals.  It is a great niche which I have many years of experience.

Aug 02, 2012 01:52 AM #38
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Iris - That does sound like a natural fit for you. You already understand how probate works and already know the attorneys who could refer clients to you.

Gary - More likely that they don't handle a lot of probate files - or that most of the families they're helping still have one spouse alive and living in the house.

Phil - Sounds like that agent got in too much of a hurry. On my page about the probate letters I tell about a situation here years ago. An agent I knew went to a funeral and asked the deceased's daughters for the listing. I guess she thought that since she'd known them ever since high school, that was OK.

They were so angry at her insensitivity that they demanded that she not even be allowed to show the property after they listed it with me. Fortunately, she didn't ask.

Chris & Dick - Divorce attorneys could also be a source of listing referrals.

Evelyn - Everyone should have a sphere of influence with so many opportunities to refer business. That's wonderful!

Aug 02, 2012 02:04 AM #39
Sandy Acevedo
951-290-8588 - Chino Hills, CA
RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale

HI Marte, great post. This is not on my radar right now, but perhaps in the future.             

Aug 02, 2012 10:56 AM #40
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

What a great idea. I've added this to my list to check into, and I'm going to bookmark this blog. WAY TO GO on giving everyone some great advice.

You know I've talked to many agents in my rural area about joining AR...and I get the brush off and lame excuses. I've learned so much and have made some really great friends here on AR. I'm done trying to share my good fortune. I'll just keep it all to myself. It may sound selfish, but I've tried to share and no one wants to take me up on this.

Aug 02, 2012 12:57 PM #41
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Sandy - You can't do everything at the same time. But I think agents who are completely focused on short sales or on listing REO's need to start thinking and developing a second niche for when the market finally gets back to normal.

Debbie - I don't blame you at all. Agents contact me all the time asking for advice on how to start their career - or jump-start it after its gone stale. Among other things, I tell ALL of them to join Active Rain and actually use it. I see that a few have joined, but none have done anything with it.

We can lead a horse to water...

Here in Priest River I believe there is one agent who joined some years ago - and didn't get much farther than that. Other than him, I'm the only one in town. Sure did make it easy to be #1 on the leaderboard!

Aug 02, 2012 02:39 PM #42
Charles Stallions
Charles Stallions Real Estate Services - Pensacola, FL
800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl.

I wonder if that is the same as preforeclosure, not sure if someone is looking to sell if they are in probate.

Aug 05, 2012 12:32 PM #43
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Charles - No, that's not the same as preforclosure. Some probate houses are owned free and clear. When there is no one left who will live in the house, the heirs want to sell because they have no use for the house and don't want to become landlords. In the case where there IS a mortgage, they also don't want to be responsible for the payments. And, in some cases they NEED to sell in order to settle other debts of the estate.

Aug 06, 2012 05:29 AM #44
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