Direct Mail For Motivated Sellers Isn’t Dead

Your real estate success starts with the seller (one who is motivated and willing to sell at a bargain price) and one of the best ways to find these motivated sellers is by sending direct mail to vacant property owners.

One thing’s for sure, if you aren’t talking to motivated sellers, you won’t be in this business for very long!

Now you may hear people say direct mail is dead. They may say it’s a waste of time, money, resources… and to that, I say, heck no! Direct mail is alive and well, my friends.

It works.

Think about your email inbox for a moment. Is it constantly being filled with junk you’re not interested in or are those you are interested in, pounding you with way too much email?  Why “snail mail” works is because most marketing messages have moved to email leaving your postal mail box with a whole lot less in it than in the past. Ok, maybe not around the holidays… you know what I mean.

The thing to keep in mind is R.O.I.  That’s return on investment. We’re looking for the highest R.O.I. we can get when it comes to communicating with motivated sellers.

With the right list and the right type of campaign – yellow letters, postcards, etc. – you will get a return on your investment. Oftentimes, just ONE deal makes it worth it. Heck, one good deal could cover your marketing expenses for a LONG time!

Now if you’re going to use direct mail, you’ve got to be smart about it because it’s expensive. So we need to be careful to match our message with the recipient. That’s a MUST. Then, to get even better results, you should track your campaigns so you know the mail pieces and lists that are giving you the best results, and then you replicate those over and over again.

…consistency is the key.

If you decide to do direct mail, you’re going to need hone in on a winner of a campaign and then keep doing it again and again so your pipeline of prospects doesn’t dry up. I’ve seen way too many people make the mistake of waiting too long between campaigns or thinking that because they got a lead or two, they can stop or take a break.

No, sir (Or ma’am). Consistent marketing is the way to go!

You Got a Bite, Now What?

So, let’s say you’ve done a direct mail campaign. You waited. And, maybe you waited some more (but in the meantime you sent out other mail campaigns, right?!). And finally, you got a response. Hooray!

Reeling them in is the ultimate goal, yes, but you definitely need to understand how to handle the deal once it falls in your lap. And for many of us, that process can be a real head scratcher.

But it doesn’t have to be! Check out this interesting example…

I recently heard from student who received a response from her vacant house mail campaign – a campaign from which she sends direct mail straight from the in-application mailing system within the Vacant House Data Feed – (click here to try this powerful system out for yourself – it’s risk-free!)

After the call came in, she did some research on the particular property on the county website and found out that the owner was behind on the taxes and the property was on the list to be sold by the county at auction.

The total in back taxes – $638. Yep, that’s it. Just $638.

So, the house was scheduled to be sold at auction, but I explained to the investor that she would most likely NOT be able to buy the house at auction for a bargain price. If there was no other bidder, she might get lucky. But generally speaking, the chances of her buying for the low, low, crazy low price of $638, just what is owed, was slim to none.

Here’s the thing… because this owner contacted the investor directly – in response to her letter, I didn’t think it would even make it to the auction. That is, if the seller and investor could agree on a price the property could be pulled from the auction “docket”. And remember, obviously the seller was motivated, which is why he responded to the mail piece…

Turns out this property belonged to the seller’s mother, who had recently passed away and the son wanted to be done with it.

So, how much should the investor offer?

Well, let’s look at two scenarios… if it were to go to auction vs. working directly with the seller.

You Can Only Pay What You Can Pay

To figure out the offer, the investor would have to take into consideration whatever the mortgage balance is (if there is one) plus the back taxes.

If there’s a big mortgage and it just doesn’t make financial sense to pay that price for the property – then it would be best to let it go to auction, where she’d at least have a shot at buying it at a significant discount and the mortgage would be wiped out completely.

If she’s the winning bidder at the auction, she could simply purchase the owner’s right of redemption (if there is one) for say $1,000, and then she wouldn’t have to worry about the seller redeeming it.

Side Note: The right of redemption is the right of an owner (whose property has been foreclosed on and sold) to reclaim that property if they are able to come up with the money to repay the amount of the debt.

So, that’s the auction route. Here’s another option…

If there’s no mortgage (meaning the property was owned free and clear) or it’s a very low mortgage, run the numbers to see if it makes sense to scoop it up before it goes to auction, like I mentioned above. (And it could easily be worked out that the back taxes would be paid by the seller from the proceeds of the sale.) I’ve done this numerous times over the years by the way.

To do this, pull comps and calculate the after repair value (ARV), assuming the property needs repairs.

Depending on how the investor intends to sell, do the math two ways:

  • Go for .70¢ on the dollar minus repairs to get close to a price that takes into account that the investor would do the repairs herself.
  • But if she plans to wholesale to the property to another investor who will do the rehabbing, go with .65¢ on the dollar minus repairs (so that end buyer investor can turn around and sell it at .70¢ on the dollar minus repairs to make a little profit in between).

So the question of how much to offer is easy once you do the math.

Remember, at the end of the day, you can only pay what you can pay, so work the numbers – and do what works for you.

This is just one tiny example of how direct mail for motivated sellers really works when you are consistent with it. If you send out one batch of mailers and don’t get a response, then because of that you decide direct mail doesn’t work and discontinue, you will be right, it doesn’t work – for you.  Be consistent and you’ll see that it does work… like a charm!

Talk to Me

Leave a comment below if you have thoughts or questions about using direct mail for motivated sellers or closing vacant house deals. I personally respond to any and all comments!


Cameron Dunlap

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22 thoughts on “Direct Mail For Motivated Sellers Isn’t Dead

Hi Cam!
Thanks for this information. My questions are can I do direct mail in any market? and what’s the best source to find vacant houses?

Hey Cam. Christopher Hall here.

Thanks for taking the time to post this. I’m really glad to see this blog. I really needed to read it! Like you said, Inbox is always full. I get soooo many emails from soooo MANY “Gurus “ selling something. Many saying direct mail is a thing of the past and it’s too expensive. Believe me when I say I’ve looked at a lot of different solutions that are out there that claim better way of automating “Your Business”. As I’m sure you have!

I’d also just like to say Cam, Thank You! Thank you for “The Four Pillars!” I’ve been chasing this dream of mine since the 80’s. Long time. From Robert Allen “No Money Down & Multiple Streams Of Income”, Carlton Sheets “Creative Financing” right up to Jeff Adams “Title Wave Of Forclosures & REO’S”, when I first started following you. You seemed to be really the only one saying, “Wholesaling is the answer and I’ll fund your deals for you!” I wasn’t sure then…. but I am now! Don’t get me wrong. I know that all those strategies do work. However, I was always to be disappointed after spending thousands of dollars, and this is just my opinion Cam, to get me into a seminar all hyped up with promises of, “Everything you need, funding included! Only after 3 days to hear, and for another $30k we’ll take by the hand and fund you deals!” None of them really helped the guy/girl who truly had to beg and borrow that $1k-$1.5k that basically got me a bunch of CD’S and Books. I did learn a lot though. Over 20 years.

So, thank you so much for “The Four Pillars!” Truly, everything you need! Completely automated with iFLIP and with NO FEE FUNDING! Perfect for the guy/girl, like myself, who literally had to convince my wife one more time, finally someone has really come out with… “Everything you need including funding!” And only has a shoe string budget!

Sorry for going off topic, but I really needed to tell you how grateful my wife and I am! I finally just got my Certificate Of Organization which you’ll get tomorrow. Web sites are up and running. My goals are down on paper. And got my business cards today!

It’s not a dream anymore thanks to you Cam! Thank you so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

Remember my name Cam! Cause your going to hear it a lot around your office!


Christopher H.
Worcester County, Massachusetts

Thank you for the nice comments Chris. I look forward to hearing your name around my office! We’re ready to fund your deals (with no fees of course) so bring it on!


I mail out to single family homes three times before I terminate that home from trying to contact owner. I mail out a letter to that home monthly for three months, if there is no response during that time I will terminate.

Is this wrong or what do you recommend??

Hi Ray. The rule of 7 plays in here. It has been proven that 7 contacts is needed to fully make the sale or impression you desire.

The old saying it’s better to mail 100 people 7 times than 700 people 1 time, comes into play.

When you have a phone number, I presume you’re using that first.

I did a list for vacant properties with out of state owners with 40-100% equity. I’m finding that so far alot of these homes are vacation and/Or weekend properties that are very pricey! How can I filter out these properties and still seek out good equity deals?

We do our very best to filter them before making the info available but some owners are tricky. I would suggest you be cautious in assuming or in how you are determining that they are vacation properties. Many appear that way and are not.

Hi Cam,
Me and my fiance purchased the trifecta program along with all the great bonuses that came along with it. I have picked out 3 target markets and have begun putting my name out in them. My question is how or what is your best advise towards building connections and eyes and boots on the ground in markets that we live a long distance from? We have our local campaign but see so much more potential in other markets! Tough wholesaling in Connecticut, Mass Exodus from this poorly governed state. Most the profitable action right now seems to be in rentals. Many people dumping home ownership and moving out of state.

Advertise for some a bird dog or two in the other market and then as you deal with them, befriend an investor friendly Real Estate Agent. One good one of each is probably all you need until you scale.

I am just getting started with trifecta and I plan to do mailings. How many property owners should I including in my first mailing. Also, at what point after I have mailed to the owners should I start making my telephone calls. I plan to do the seven mailings before I cross there names off of my list. How do you find bird dogs?


Those are great questions that I’ll be happy to address in detail on my next Deal Maker Webinar, which is part of my Private Inner Circle. As a Trifecta program owner you have 1 year of membership in the Inner Circle and I hope you’ll take advantage of it.


This was very informative and worth the read. Cam and the awesome team are in one word AWESOME ?. I’m a first time investor and with my ‘boots on the ground’ I’m scouring the market for the best investment-As well as waiting for responses from motivated sellers. I look forward In finally working with Cam and this incredible program he’s put together. Thanks again.

Hi Uncle Cam, it’s an honor and a joy to be part of the CamFam. I found your blog post today to be very interesting and informative. I’ve completed two direct marketing campaigns so far after mailing several postcards. In this area there’s a lot of vacant houses that are typically used as beach homes, so accurately canvassing can be dicey. Once i find a potential street or neighborhood i go to the Sussex county parcel map and gather intel, then use the new info to fill out postcards that i purchased in bulk (1k pieces) at a great rate, and postage is .36$ each. Since I love maps and data it’s actually very fun to scout for new leads. Now that I’ve acquired the cash buyer data feed thanks to your generous one year offer at less than five hundred dollars, talk about an amazing value the program is worth it’s weight in trees, flowers, and herbs. Am truly looking forward to the first bite, and once it’s fish on i will focus up for a successful landing so that the deal doesn’t spit the hook or break the line. Even if it’s not a hole in one it’s still a rush to hit the ball and aim for the pin to get on the green in fewer shots. With practice comes experience, which leads to more productivity and hopefully many sweet deals. Thanks again for everything, am eager to continue learning and growing. Best Regards,

Hello Cam,
The 70 cents on the dollar for someone doing the rehabbing themselves. The same person can sell to another investor for 65 cents on the dollar to make a profit. Interesting, I learned something new.

Still learning the ropes,

Hi Cam!
thank you for you’re Inspirations and help, holding our hands through this, as for me I’m new to this, I do not have a clue with some of these term’s and what they mean in this field, like 70c on the dollar etc. but I’m researching a lot of these words and learning a lot, but as soon as I get the hang of it all, which is not far from now as I speak, I will look back and say, wow! that wasn’t that hard.
also I asked If I could shorten the 3 Month’s payment by paying 2 payments at once, I need the Filip tool now, I think a lot is passing me by, so, could that happen please?. thanks a lot.

Good Morning,
Two of the houses I am looking at are vacant w/ the owners living in town. they are both quit claim houses would those be good properties to send an offer on, and how would I word my offer without seeming nosey or insulting to the owner or others possibly involved ie; relatives etc., And I am assuming a direct mailing would be the best way to handle this type of motivation.

Hey Scott. These houses are good candidates for sure.

I would call one of the owners and make a friend. Then work on buying them.

Remember that people do business with people they like.

I know direct mail works. A few years ago we were admiring a house for our personal use and it was listed on MLS. One day it was off the market. We looked up the owner and wrote to her asking if she changed her mind about selling. She said no, however, because of personal reasons she couldn’t sell for 6 months. We did the deal, closed in six months, and moved in.

I am working on my 2nd mailer campaign now going out to vacant absentee properties.

Thank you, Cam, for once again putting out some amazing information. I have always loved Direct Mail. I wanted to ask you, would you happen to have a copy of the Mail Order campaign you use to contact motivated sellers. That is an interesting concept, I love the fact that only I and a small group of people would be able to see this list of Motivated Sellers. Thank you so much Cam.

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