Wondering where to get your direct mail lists for your real estate direct mail campaigns? Well there’s all kinds of places you can get direct mail lists from and we’ll explore them. Plus, I’ll let you know where I got my direct mail list from for my current direct mail campaign to apartment owners.
I want you to keep in mind that depending on the focus of your business you may have more than 1 direct mail list depending on who you are targeting and why? Perhaps you target pre-foreclosures one week and maybe probates another month, etc. I don’t know what your individual direct mail campaign needs are, only you do. But there are many ways you can find direct mail lists regardless of what area of real estate investing you are interested in.
List Brokers – you can literally look in the yellow pages under list brokers or mailing lists. I’m talking about your physical yellow pages book (do ya’ll still get one of those? lol) or you could very well go to Yellow Pages online as well. These types of direct mail lists you will have to pay for, of course. Sometimes, you may be able to negotiate a free batch just to test the vendor and make sure that their list is current.
Online List Brokers – Gosh you could go to google and type in direct mail lists for real estate or just direct mail lists and a whole bunch of services will come up. I’ve used quantummail.com and there are places like infousa.com and all kinds of places you can check out. You will have to pay for these services and the prices vary from vendor to vendor.
Tax Assessor’s Office – taxes suck! But the cool thing about taxes is that somebody has to pay them on a property and the tax assessor’s office needs to send them the bill for them to pay! Sooo, they’ll have the address of where the tax bill will go for a particular property. Now you may be able to get this information for free, you may be able to go in person and get the information and you may very well be able to look on your tax assessor’s website for the info if they have one.
Prothonotary’s Office – I’ve gone to this office for pre-foreclosures plenty of times. At the Chester County courthouse in my area, they have the information written down in a notebook and you have to physically take this notebook over to one of their computers to get more detailed information. It’s a lot of work, but ya know what? The information is free! Perhaps you could pay someone to do it once you know how to do it, or perhaps you’re low on funds so this would be a perfect way for you to build your direct mail lists.
Register of Wills – I’ve gone to this office in my county courthouse several times to dig up leads to add to my probate direct mail list. Again, you’ll have to physically go through folders and there are a lot! But you go through them and write down the information of the ones that have property that you want to mail to their heirs. You also could learn how to do this and then pay someone else to do it or if money is tight, it’s a great way to get these direct mail lists for free. Your only expense would be your time. Keep in mind I’m talking about MY county courthouses here. Whether you’ll have to pay a fee or not for your area you won’t know until you go down to the offices or call. Also, in different areas the offices may be called different things then what they are called in my area. I’d say to start out at the offices that I mention but if they don’t have what you’re looking for, ask the folks at the court house where you can find the information you’re looking for.
Other Government Websites – the Tax Assessor’s Office can be included here too, but I like to keep them separate. When I talk about government websites I’m really referring to your local and county government. In certain areas you can log onto county websites and get very useful information for your direct mail lists. For instance, in Montgomery County in my area, you can log onto their county website and log into the courts website and search for certain type of filings i.e. foreclosures, etc.
If you don’t know what section of the government website will have useful information for your direct mail lists then you could just mess around on the website by trial and error or you could actually call up the tax assessor’s office, the prothonotary’s office, register of wills, etc. etc. and when you get someone on the phone tell them what you are looking for and ask them if this information is available online. Keep in mind, some county websites may make you pay for this access but a lot will not.
Public Records from the MLS – I am a licensed real estate agent in Pennsylvania and because of this I pay for MLS access. This is the multiple listing service for those of you that didn’t know (this is where all of the real estate agents list their properties for sale and other agents look what’s available there for their buyers.) Now the part of the MLS that I use for my direct mail lists is the public records section. I can literally search for any types of properties, I can put a certain time frame for settlement dates; for instance let’s say I want apartment owners that have owned their properties for longer than 15 yrs. I can just input the dates, or I can just look for out of area owners, etc. There’s all kinds of way to use this data and it’s free (well not exactly, it comes with the cost of the MLS fees.) Then the beauty of it is that after I get my records together that I want to be on my direct mail lists then I can export them as a csv file or excel file right from the public records section. It’s super easy (well once you learn how to do it, of course. The first time I tried to figure it out it was a pain in the ass!)
MLS – You can also just use the MLS in general without getting into the public records. Perhaps, you want to add expired listings to your direct mail lists. Or maybe you want to have a direct mail list that you mail to property owners whose places have been listed for 60 days, 90 days or more. It’s up to you what you want your criteria to be. Now, of course, if you’re not a licensed agent, you’re going to have to hook with one that will let you utilize their MLS or you can look into becoming an assistant for an agent so you can get MLS access.
Real Estate Investors Associations – If you belong to your local reia (and I think you should belong) then sometimes you’ll find folks within the group that are selling lists for you to use with your direct mail lists. They most likely pay folks to go to the courthouse for them and gather the list and then they put it in a file and sell it to you. So again, this will cost you some money as well. You may be able to negotiate a free batch of these to ensure that the leads are current (and you’ll have to cross reference the list you get at the court house to make sure they are current.)
So there’s a bunch of ways you can build your direct mail lists. Personally, I’ve used every method up there except the list brokers in the yellow pages and I never went to the tax assessor’s office either. Every other method above I have used. My favorite is public records from the MLS. That’s how I developed my apartment owners direct mail list for my current use.
When you’re getting your list from someone other than you physically going down to your courthouse or local government office and getting the information be sure that the lists you receive are current. There’s nothing like old, outdated direct mail lists that a billion other investors have already mailed too. That’s just a waste of money.
Oh and I wanted to add one more thing…for you real estate investors that are real estate agents, perhaps you can create your direct mail lists and send them out one week as a real estate investor and perhaps the next couple weeks as a real estate agent? It’s a great way to get listings! Of course, if you’re like me, you don’t really concentrate on that side of the real estate world, but hey, you have your license so you’re qualified to do it (just make sure you meet your states advertising criteria for real estate agents.)
If you have anymore ideas for developing your direct mail lists, please tell us! The more options folks have the better.