We’re getting a lesson from Rick Ginn today about investing in properties that are in probate. Rick’s been on the podcast several other times; he's learned some new things about probate that he wants to share with us.
He started working with probate in 2013 and he found that probate properties bring high payoffs with low marketing costs.
He has one full-time and one part-time employee to help tackle 4 counties in his area. Since starting working with probates, he’s tested his marketing approach and tweaked it over and over. It works.
Most probated properties are vacant and not well maintained. Most have flexible closing dates because the rest of the estate is being worked out, too. A few close in 30 days, but it’s rare.
Some counties make probate information available online. Other counties require you to go to the courthouse and pull records. Every county is different and every state is different.
Remember that cold calling almost always leads to a question about how you got the phone number. Rick gives you a method for deflecting the question when it comes up.
He talks to the Executor or Personal Representative of the estate, not the heirs. Rick has access to attorneys to guide him when questions arise. He also uses VAs to handle parts of the process.
Joe: Welcome. This is The Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast.
Joe: Hey guys, how you doing? Welcome this is The Real Estate Investing Mastery podcast. Got a special guest here today. His name is Rick Ginn, and a lot of you know him. He's been on my podcast before and I've also had his son on the podcast before. So Rick, how many times have you been on my show? Do you remember?
Rick: This will be my third time. Third time.
Joe: Yes. And I'm pulling it up right now because your son came on the show it was episode five 86. His name is Zack and it was called How An 18 Year Old Wholesaler Went From Bags To Riches, but he wasn't homeless. He was bagging groceries at a grocery store and he got tired of seeing all these big checks on his dad's desk. I think it's, am I right if I remember correctly, like he got tired of, he got frustrated that you were just leaving these big checks on the desk for a long period of time and you weren't depositing them or something. Is that right? Do you remember?
Rick: Yeah you know I tried some of my NLP strategies on my own kids and you know, it started when I around 13 is when they kind of get curious about money and how do I get this dad. And then long story short, he is now is my COO in training. And he actually, he runs, he pretty much runs all my probates and he's in charge of marketing and he will be COO when he gets his college degree because that's his mother's. And so he's still in college full time. He's got two semesters left and he's done with college. He did it kind in like a year and a half. I don't advise that for most people's kids, but he really has got the real estate bug. He's really, really good at it.
Joe: Just to get them in there. That long is an accomplishment, right?
Rick: Yeah. Yeah. So I'm excited about it and it's, actually what I'll do is at the end of this aisle, I'll provide you a book. Zach said, you know, make sure anybody who wants to get his book, he's just, he's just going to give it away to help them get started. And as you remember, he just documented, I think it's 46 pages exactly what he did in his first, yeah, I think 60 to 90 days and he wound up doing four deals. Blew me away. So there's hope for everybody.
Joe: You know the website, I'm not sure if it's still working. It was Youth REIM.
Rick: What I'll do is I will update it for you. I'm just going to send it to you Joe, that way you can make it available in the links.
Joe: We'll do that. So he wrote a book called From Bags To Riches and it's a great little story of how he wholesaled his deals. I love his story though, because this is not where we're going to be talking about. He's just like, you know what, screw it I don't care. And He puts his cell phone number on the bandit signs, right? Cell phone numbers on his signs. His dad didn't give him a bunch of money to do direct mail, he kind of had to do it on his own. He drove for dollars, couldn't afford skip tracing, so he just went to Google and searched and searched in Google for phone numbers, found phone numbers, started calling people, did like 50 something thousand dollars his first 4 months. Cool story. Go check that out guys. It's episode 586. And also I did some other podcasts with Rick talking about probates, talking about why you need to answer the phone.
Rick: Still true by the way.
Joe: Oh, it's still true. And I think it always will be. You know fads come and go, Rick. You know, people, especially marketing fads, you know, right now the latest, greatest thing is maybe cold calling or texting.
Joe: RVM well, that's not even a new thing anymore that's getting old. A lot of people aren't doing that anymore because of all the problems that people are having with it with lawsuits and stuff.
Joe: Yeah. Anyway, but answering the phones will never get old. That will always work the best. Even though you think the younger generation today doesn't want to be on the phone, they just want to text. That may be true for them, but for everybody that you're buying houses from right now, it's not the case, right?
Joe: So I want to first let you guys know this is The Real Estate Investing Mastery Podcast. So if we give out links like Rick Son's book, we're going to put that in the show notes. We're going to have a transcript of this show. We're going to have a bunch of different other things on there. So go to RealEstateInvestingMastery.com to get the show notes too, to listen to this. Again, if you want to read the transcript, also please leave a review. If you like the show go to ITunes, leave a review, subscribe. We'd really appreciate it. It's like a tip jar for us podcasters.
New Speaker: I've been doing my podcast since 2011 and I've gotten a lot of tips and it's nice. I just like to see what you guys like about the show, what we could do different, what we could do better. And a lot of you guys are leaving great reviews in ITunes, so please right now, pause this podcast, go to ITunes or Stitcher and leave a review would really appreciate it. So cool. Rick is kind of known around the country as somebody that's does a lot of [inaudible]. He does a lot of deals, but he also specializes in probates. And he was the guy also by the way, who invented the handwritten postcard system.
Rick: Now your showing my age.
Joe: Way back in the day, Rick kind of made that up. And it a real simple concept until, and it worked really, really well until everybody started using it. It's still works not as well as it used to, right? So Rick is still doing probates and he loves probates. Some of his biggest deals are from probate. So I asked him, I said, hey, can we be on, can I get you on the podcast again? Let's talk about some changes that had happened with probates. What are you doing now? Why do you still like probates and what are some of the best ways that our audience here can get in on the probate game? It's never too late, is it? I mean, like it's never too competitive, it's never something you want to ignore, right is what I'm saying.
Rick: So let's start out by saying everything in real estate investing is more competitive. So it's and it's not so much different in probates, if you look at my history, my track record, I'm a really good marketer. I try a lot of things that most people won't even try. That's how I came up with a handwritten postcard. But everything I create from a marketing standpoint is what I call kind of evergreen. Meaning I like to find something, I mean test it thoroughly and then just keep it running and then you still have to stay up to date. So why I've always liked probates is it truly is evergreen. I mean, the reality is people pass away, family members or heirs get stuck with properties that they have no idea or they didn't know anything about. Some of it they plan it coming and some they don't.
Rick: So it was in 2014 I came out with a priority probate system. I just, I've been doing this 15 years Joe and I never did a probate until 2000, I want to say 13 never did it. And the reason I found out about it is my accountant says, you know, we would go through and he goes, man, look at this check and this check and look at this HUD. He goes, you got to do more like that. I go, crap. I go, that's a probate. And so that's when I decided to get serious. And all I did was for six months reverse engineer probates because I didn't really know anything about it. I just, I knew I was going to be an ambulance chaser. I was going to bug people at funerals. I had every preconceived notion about it. And I simply started by going down to my local county courthouse and I picked the ladies ear for about an hour and I wrote like copious notes and I just started organizing and I kept going back and then I would pull files and then I would test market letters and I tried everything for six months.
Rick: So in the end I developed a product I used in my business and I really for over a year and a half. And I'm telling you, it was like discovering gold when I did it. And I love probates because they're evergreen. There's still my cheapest marketing source and they are double the profit of every other deal I do on my pipeline. I don't do 50 probates a month, I'm not, full disclaimer, but I've done as many as six probates in one month and I've done this many as like a zero. But the difference is I love probates because they are evergreen, they're my lowest costs and they're my highest profit. So I want to kind of go through, nothing's really changed in probates since five years of what I look for in it. Like, so I told you that it's the, we do about 300 probate leads a month.
Rick: So we work four counties.
Joe: Just in your area?
Rick: Yeah, just my area. Now, full disclosure, scaling probates is hard to do. It's because every, you know, how many counties are across the country, Joe, roughly?
Joe: No but why, is it hard to scale in just your state?
Rick: It's every county's different. So I work four counties and for full disclosure, I have a part time and a full time person that helps me organize all that. So you'd think one county next to the other would have the exact same way and the exact same state? They don't. So we still have counties we have to physically go down to the courthouse and pull.
Joe: Those are the best ones, aren't they?
Rick: They are.
Joe: Because the heart of the list is to get the better.
Rick: Exactly. So it's, it can be a lot of work to do. So what happens is, it's like for me, every county I take on, it's another layer. And you know, you have to organize your spreadsheets, your marketing systems, and you just can't take on like a hundred counties. So I tell most people starting out, just start in the own county where you like to do business and you're most comfortable master it. Just like we teach on any other type of marketing, get it dialed in and get a dealer too and then add another county. So many people try to take on the world and it's one of the biggest mistakes I see in probate. So like the biggest tip I can give to you is you're doing business maybe in the county you reside in. Just start there and remember these are your taxes, provide this service. And if you kill people with kindness and you help them out, they will answer your questions, especially when they know you're not going to go away.
Rick: So the other thing I love about every probate is 75% of the ones I deal with are vacant. Now I don't know about you Joe, I love vacant properties.
Joe: And they have a lot of deferred maintenance, right? They need a lot of…
Rick: So vacant, deferred maintenance, here's my favorite one, flexible closing dates. Since they're not residing in the property and we're typically waiting sometimes for illegal action to take place. Most of my closings take, I can get them done as early as 30 days and I teach how to do that, but typically it's 60 to 90 days, which gives me a gold mine of opportunity to resell the property bring my buyers in there and really find the highest and best use for the property. And to be honest with you, all we do in probate guys is we solve family problems. We help people out.
Rick: 90% of the prototype by either, I don't really show up at the closings, but my closer does. She's like, they hug me, they kiss me. They are like, man, you took a big burden off of our family. And that's once we discovered that we were truly helping people, which is why we're in this business. It's huge because sometimes they're not paying the mortgage, they're getting notices from the county. You've got to cut the lawn. And in Florida it's terrible. I mean that the lawn grows like crazy. And I've always loved probates.
Joe: I just read an article yesterday in the Washington Post or the Washington Times. I sound really fancy and sophisticated because I'm reading the Washington Times, but it was, it was Apple News, okay. And there's a story in there. Some guy in Florida is losing his house, the HOA or the city rather, is foreclosing on him because he has $30,000 of overdue fees because he wasn't maintaining his lawn, right. He was taking care of his dying mother and selling her, helping. Well she died, he was in Ohio trying to take care of her estate, right and fix all that.
Joe: And then the city in Florida fined him like $500 for every day that the lawn wasn't mowed because he had so many warnings and then they charged interest on top of that. His fines totaled $30,000 and now they're foreclosing on his house that he owned free and clear they were going to be foreclosing on his house because of unkept lawn. And he's fighting it now. And then there's this national law attorney that's suing the city and they're hoping to, but anyway that's some of those are some of the best properties. That's why, you know, when you're driving for dollars, you'd look for properties that…
Rick: And driving for dollars is, I mean it's, they stick out like a sore thumb. So it's, I just love probates. I mean, you're not going to do 30 in a month, but like, let me, you know, I'm a wholesaler, you know, I do some light rehab, we do quick flips. I kind of do the whole gamut because I've been doing this long enough, but my average profit on a probate for the last 12 months is $36,000. And most of those deals I'm putting, like, I'm not even buying them Joe. Like, it's like I'm getting it's vacant it needs work. I can pretty much control the closing date. I'm trying to solve problems. It’s not uncommon to get a $10,000, $20,000 you know, I've seen as high as $25,000 just for a lawn cut that, you know, grandma couldn't take care of because she was elderly.
Rick: It happened five years ago and it racked up at $250 a day. So we work with people in our title company. As long as we get some family representation, we can usually, I mean you usually pay like a $1,000 and just call it a day, but the city knows they don't think anyone's going to show up. So talking about helping out a family and creating value there. Those are things you can do. You need time to do that. It typically 60 days to negotiate in the state of Florida on any type of code violation. But it's if you could just, I am my premise of when I offered the original product PPS and I always said, if you could just put one or two probate deals in your portfolio a year, would it be worth your time? And that's how I kind of approached it.
Rick: I said, all you need is a cell phone, a basic computer to print some letters and go get a roll of stamps. And listen to our probates, I would never, ever, ever send it to a third party to answer their too important to us. So we do a rotation in our company because we know their the highest priority leads. So we just did, we had a good month. We just picked up two probate's. So to probates am ideal is $72,000 net to the company. I still do wholesales, I do assignments, but they're, cost on probates. Well, let's figure what, roughly .50 cents for a stamp. If I have 300 probates, we're spending $250.00 $300.00 a month. Yes, I have some staffing in there because, you know, I do four counties, but, you know, if you can't afford two to $300 a month being in like a real estate investing, like trust me, we do direct mail it's a huge check we write and we're lucky if we squeeze a deal two out of that.
Rick: Because our acquisition costs are, our costs per lead has gone as you know, so through the roof, when I started out doing handwritten postcard, we used to get a 20%, 25% response rate. I mean, we're jumping on the ceiling or getting a 1% right now. Like we're just ecstatic with our numbers and we're still getting a good return on that. But nothing like, man, nothing like the good old days.
Joe: Have you seen in the last 6 to 12 months, the response rate's getting better? Maybe the last 3 to 6 months.
Rick: Yeah, but you know, yes and no. So a certain markets have responded a little bit better to us. I do quite a few markets now. We have changed our complete, we haven't changed how we answer the phones we've just upped the responsibility level. We leave we find a lot of times, at least in South Florida, in a very competitive market. When a seller calls, they typically have four or five letters and probably 15 postcards in their hand and they're going through just like this, and you can hear it in their voice every now and then when we miss a call, they're like, oh gosh, another voicemail, another this.
Rick: I'm one of those crazy guys, like I'm driving around Saturday after I work out or go get my cup of coffee, I write down all the bandit sign numbers and I call and I'm just in shock. I mean, literally in shock. I can't even get people to return my call. And I'm like, why even bother doing the effort?
Joe: These probate letters, you're putting your cell phone number on or a phone number of somebody who's going to answer right?
Rick: Yeah we're putting a tracking number on it. And it's, and I teach everyone on your probates knowing that they're, you know, the highest return and the lowest cost marketing. We just make sure we have one of somebody in your company or if it's just like you and your wife, make sure one of you two answer the phone because 9 times out of 10, I remember our goal in marketing is just to engage the prospect. Once you engage them it’s up to your level of training and how you want to take it down. But like, man, when that phone rings, even when somebody's lights me up, Joe on a probate, I like, I feel lucky they called me because the guy that doesn't call me that ticks me off. Like I want a phone call and I teach my staff. Whenever we get a phone call, it's a win.
Rick: Like it triggered a response. Now you're going to get your share of tire kickers and with probates there no different. But I'll show you a little bit of secret. And I usually, I share this all on my training, but I'm going to go and give it to you, whenever you receive a probate call, do not discuss price on your first phone call, it turns them off. They think you're a money grubber. Too many investors, you remember our favorite go to line, Joe is what's the least amount you take for this house? Is that the best offer? And I think we've beaten that to death. And as you understand, a probate that's not a good tactic to work on.
Joe: I agree.
Rick: We just try to engage them and really try to use their vocabulary and their words to determine the motivation without being hyper aggressive. Just think about if you're…
Joe: What does go on in the first conversation?
Rick: We try to let them do 80% of the talking and it's not uncommon to have a 10 minute conversation, which I know seems long for a lead, but if I'm only getting 20 or 30 calls in a month I want to engage them and hear everything that's going on in that conversation, they'll typically find out, they'll tell you what the condition of the house is, if it's occupied, if it's vacant. And by the end of that conversation, I'm just trying to engage them so they don't call any other investors. Number two investors aren't even really my competition anymore it's realtors. Realtors have got hyper aggressive and probates and that's been a big change in the last four years by God.
Joe: That's interesting. By the way I have seen some letters that realtors send to people in probate. And there are these while you're talking next, I'll pull one up. Letters that look that put investors in a really bad light. Like, watch out these, these investors are going to come and try to steal your property and steal all your equity and take advantage of you and your unfortunate situation. Like one of these letters shows this picture of a guy who looks like Bernie Madoff. That's what realtors are sending to these people.
Joe: While you're talking, I’ll look that letter up and I'll show it to you guys so you can see.
Rick: So in the last four years, we find that realtors are much more competition than my typical investors. Their goal is just to get that property listed. As, you know, once it's listed, you're in a major uphill battle. And listen there are certain properties we listen to our customers. If they need full retail, the house is in perfect shape I'm not going to sit here and fight an uphill battle.
Rick: I'm still going to make them an offer and if we need to point them in the right direction, then we're going to help them out. But I will tell you that very few houses fit in that model when we're dealing with them. So realtors are really the biggest change. This is kind of, as I said, it's an evergreen product, the difference for the people that have success in using my product is the one thing you've got to be consistent about it.
Rick: So if you do probates and you just start out and you put 50 letters out, listen don't start complaining to me until you're 6 months into it because you only need one for $36,000 deal. And when you're investing, a lot of times when you're starting, your investing less than a $100 dollars a month. So can you set aside $500 or $600 to wait to see if you get a result? And that's the biggest ticket I've worked with so many people, this is not a quick hit. I'm always in it for, I've been doing this 15 years Joe, I'm in it for the long haul. This is why I love probates because you know, Florida's kind of like God's waiting room, so to speak. So it's like never ending and I just I love it. You've got to be consistent with your actions and just come up.
Rick: So we just like you would teach your students, you have a marketing budget, you have this, I will tell you this, if I had to, and I'm not coming to the St Louis Market, if I had to start from scratch and I move there tomorrow, I would literally start with probates every time.
Joe: Their probably easier to get in Missouri than they are in Florida to.
Rick: And so you just need one deal, you just need one deal. And that's what I tell them, let me get you the first deal because so many people as you know, is when you can get them to see that light and they're like, oh my God, this really works this is amazing. They turn into like, I mean I have students that have done this that, I mean were incredible. I have probably a dozen. All they do is do probates because it's easy for them.
Rick: Some of them actually like this, they still have full time jobs and they don't want to get into a CRM and do all this stuff they just want to make like an extra $50,000 a year. And so you also have to look at about the time you're going to dedicate to it. You know, we talk about like pay per click, direct mail. You really have to have a system to process the leads. You know, can you handle 20 or 30 leads in a month? It's very easy. It's really simple. I don't, I mean to me it's so simple, we create complicated things that I will never ever stop doing probates. And the only thing I regret is not starting way back in like 2004 when I started this business. My God, did I leave money on the table? I mean it's…
Joe: I want to ask you some questions about how you get these probate leads and what you send them. But I found a letter wasn't the exact same one that I was looking at looking for but I'm going to show you here. This is a, this is one that, these realtors will send to people that have tax liens and do you see that's not Bernie Madoff.
Rick: And I see.
Joe: Dear overburden. You're a target property flippers want to steal your real estate. They target you because of past due property taxes. Do you know that you have unpaid property taxes? Flippers, use that info to target you, it's public record. If you ever watched the late night real estate infomercial, it promises to make millions while they're making millions at your expense. I don't want to see ripped off by a rich investor. One flipper made over a million dollars in a few short years. How did he do it? He targeted people who are having financial problems. The rich investor just made a substantial profit at their expense. Did he bother to help them out? No. Today this flipper lives the good life.
Joe: This sounds like something, I mean, no disrespect, but like he's talking about like I wouldn't mind being this flipper. Flipper lives a good life. He has no bills. He only works a few hours a day. He lives in a paid off house. His cars are paid off. Life is good, at least for him. Meanwhile, many of his victims are struggling, struggling to pay the mortgage. By the way, if you're a realtor, I would be sending this all day long to people with late taxes.
Rick: It's, you know, it's just a matter of time before it just, it's like a big scare tactic, but I will tell you, the realtors are waking up and they're attaching to a lot of investors, marketing strategies. I'm sure I've had a realtor or two buy my system. I've had people ask me to, you know, I'm not a realtor and I would probably just, you know, you're governed by, by so many codes and ethics.
Rick: And my wife's a broker, so, you know, I'm told what I can do and can't do all the time, so I don't even, that's crazy, man. That letter kind of threw me off.
Joe: I'll send it to you later if you want, but here’s the thing. Let's talk about how you get these probate leads. Some counties you get it online. Is that right?
Rick: Yeah there's really well, there's three ways you can get it. So the best way and how I started out doing and we still do is, if your county does not make them available online. You physically have to go to the courthouse or you're going to have to train somebody on your team that go down there and pull the leads. The next question to that is, Rick, how often do you do it?
Rick: It really just depends on the amount of probates that come in and will really take your 30 days to kind of figure out that volume unless you can sweet talk the lady at the front desk and she shares that information for you.
Joe: So can you tell if there's a house attached or not when you're looking at those leads?
Rick: So it's funny because I've helped people all over the country. Every state is so different and that's the challenging part of what we deal with. So in my system I put a link to all lower 48 states. As crazy as it sounds, you should read your state's probate how it works and it's a little boring, I'm not a lawyer, but every state has a different way and like how they do it. So like some states are brutally hard. Like, I believe Colorado is one of the more challenging states to actually extract because when it's on probate, it doesn't mean they own a piece of real estate.
Rick: So you have to go within the document and extract, like in the state of Florida, like 50% of the lawyer and the lawyer's file, these documents, they'll put the asset on there, but you still have to cross reference it to your local property appraiser's site. It just takes time it takes a lot of work. But in other states, like I know in Michigan for instance, they make it so easy there. They put the property address on there and they put the seller's phone number right on the bottom. I mean, it's like we don't get that. We have to go through the whole, you know, the whole caboodle of skip tracing and the whole nine yards if you want to reach out to them. So, as I said, get really familiar with your state and you can understand how to do it.
Rick: Once you familiarize yourself with it, you only got to do it once, walk a mile in their shoes, and then if you want to train someone to do it. So like my son is completely, he knows how to run it from head to toe. He knows how many leads we need projections. And he can even for costs, profits from what we do. The second way is getting them online. A lot of states make it simple, they'll usually charge you. Like I have two counties, I think they charged me $150 for online access to what we call Benchmark here in the state of Florida.
Joe: One time or monthly?
Rick: That's usually a yearly fee. It's nominal, it's convenient, it's great, but everybody else has access to it. And that's a bit, you know, everybody has access realtors, everybody for $150. They figured they don't want you to sit down in a court in the courtroom and they just charge you a business fee to do it. Very convenient you just, you got to keep up on it. The key is some of them download them daily and some will do it like biweekly, depends on the volume.
Rick: So if you were in like a big demographic, say like a Miami or something like that, it's every day they come, so Rick, you know, should I mail out eight letters a day? Yeah. Like you should do it because that's what it takes to get to them. The last one the third one is you can use a list service. I've had a lot of mixed reviews with them. The problem with a list services, it's convenient. It's usually about $300 a county, just to give you an idea. And the problem with that is that same list is going to be sold to everybody across the entire nation.
Rick: So it's not a big secret. And my experience is it's usually very dated information 30 days or later. And what's happening is they're just scraping the online stuff. They don't like to go and do the manual pulls because it's just not cost effective for them. So if you have a county where you can pull them, like manually, like get excited about it, like you really have a tactical advantage on them. And the last biggest takeaway that you know, from what I've learned the last four and a half years is I swore Joe, I swore I would never do this and I do it now. So my arms got squeezed. Yes, we reach out and contact the personal if we can get them numbers skip traced and I walk you through how to logically do it for free because we did it for free and then we decided to turn it into our system.
Rick: But so instead of cold calling, we call it warm calling because you definitely have to have the right script to make that phone call. It's not, you know, you're selling your house or not. It's, you know, it's hey, I'm sorry about Uncle Joe passing away. You've got to be tactical. And the biggest thing we have to overcome on any type of skip tracing, especially probate is like how did you get this phone number and we found a little trick through a lot of trial and error that works very well. We just use a deflection tactic. Hey listen, I just my partner told me to, my partner drove by the house. He thought the house might be for sale and he just gave me a name and number and I just thought I'd reach out and see if there's any interest there.
Rick: They focus, if you ever done skip tracing, any type of cold calling, my son's done over a hundred thousand cold calls. He did them from college and he says the biggest problem I have is getting them past how I got their phone number and he goes, if you can solve that, you can make a connection with people, but if you can't, you get in a fight with them. Just think about it Joe, when they people calling the cell phone at first I was like, how'd you get this number? And then if they can answer that, then you can go on to see if they have something that they can sell you. But if you can't get past that, so in probate it's no…
Joe: I like that a lot. Can you repeat that response again? That was really good.
Rick: Hey, listen hey Rick, how did you get my phone? Or Hey listen, I'm just reaching out, calling you. My partner drove by your house and he gave me your name and phone number and thought you might be some interest in selling it. Can you tell me what's going on with the house? We don't focus on a probate because we don't know the details. I'm not going to disrespect them, but 9 times out of 10 the house they already know the house has issues like okay, that makes sense.
Joe: That was a huge, huge gold nugget that you just shared right now.
Rick: No I know. My son came up with that one, so for full disclosure, so I don't take credit for it. Is he did, he did so many cold calls. He says that's our biggest challenge is teaching the cold callers to get past that fight. Because I get calls all day long. I'm actually, I'm one of those nice guys when you, when you call because I feel bad because we do it all day long and if you can get past the battle on how I got your phone number and just kind of do that, differ like hey listen, don't shoot the messenger.
Rick: My partner actually gave me this information, said you're basically selling, there might've been some signs that house is for sale and at that point they either engage you or they're probably going to hang up with you and call it a day. And from that, that's why we try to call it warm calling. If you go in like cold stealth mode man, it's terrible. And then the key with all probates is having a conversation that doesn't surround around price in the first two minutes because you sound like a gold digger when you do it. And that's been our biggest strategy. Actually I implemented when I first taught probates. And now the biggest difference is we've taken the warm calling and most people are very, let's face it Joe, people are uncomfortable just calling people and I get it. I am not a big fan of it, but it's a reality of our business.
Rick: And if, you know, you're just trying to help people out and have a conversation with them then it takes the edge off of what we do. And here's the thing is like we don't do Mojo we don't do an auto dialer. We just pick up our phone here and we make a phone call and it's not illegal to do that. You're making a one on one calls and you're trying to like connect with people and what do you do when they choose…
Joe: You're not selling anything either.
Rick: Now we just kill them with kindness. Go listen, I'm so sorry. I'll remove and we remove them and we don't bother them again. Now Rick, why don't you just do the warm calling opposed to the letter. I will tell you, I can cold call, warm call somebody and they tell me to take a hike and they still respond to my letter. So it's kind of like the one, two punch. Some of our elderly people really respect the letter and understanding everybody has to deal with things in a different way.
Rick: We have people in probate like, you know, that son of a gun left me this piece of crap and this is like his last stomping thing to me. And then other people, I mean, they're just destroyed over it and they can take a year to call you. And to me it's, they respect that and they will call you out of the blue. I had somebody call me from two years ago on a letter, two years. They just stuck it up on their fridge and they go, there was a lot of, and we provide the letter, like you don't have to overthink it. Like we try not to get too cute and fancy with it and we just kind of walk them through.
Rick: You know, we have interest in buying the house. You know, we're sorry about everything. We're reputable and we just kind of plug your name in and make it work. And then eventually everybody kind of puts their own spin on it with what you're comfortable with, so yes, letters still work and people, elderly people actually respect them.
Joe: So let's talk about who do you, what do you send letters, postcards or what the combination of that is. And then who are you sending the letters too? Are you sending them to everybody that shows up in the records?
Rick: Okay so I'll give you my four and a half year update. In the beginning I taught everybody just to send to everybody. It's a lot of work. So I've had properties with as many as 30 years. So understanding usually they're considered the person in charge is going to be the executor or what we call the PR of the personal representative. I don't know how it is in St Louis, but that person was put in charge because the person that passed away in the event, something happened to them, they try to pick the most responsible for a person in the family.
Rick: The problem is when we sent it out to the heirs, we got a lot of drama and my goal was sending it out to the heirs and I originally did it was try to get the PR's contact information. Well, the amount of drama that will ensue if you send the four heirs, it's just not as good. So we simply mail to the personal representative. We always send a letter on the first one, 30 days, we send another letter and then we put them in our regular postcard rotation. These aren't big numbers. They're really, really simple to manage on a Google spreadsheet.
Rick: And then we also mail a letter to the property address because someone in charge usually picks up the mail and it's usually going to be the PR that'll pick it up in person and then they'll get one at their house. We've experimented with the same letter and go, hey, listen, I sent a letter to you, you know, if you could forward this to the PR. And so that's it.
Joe: In your letter is it just a typed or handwritten letter, professional letter, what?
Rick: We just do like regular, we used to use 12 font. I think we upped the 14 to make it nice and big and clean and clear and it's just a really simple mail verge. It's not overly complicated. The whole goal of the letter is that we kind of put like a small paragraph in there, like the show them how to cut through some of the red tape of probate. I deal with a lot of attorneys. I have two attorneys that I have like one of my office and then I have one at my title company. And we hear a lot with the term. We get a lot of attorneys out of state doing it. And probate, it's actually pretty, you know, it sometimes they make it very, very complicated.
Rick: In the state of Florida, you can actually sell a property in the process of probate before the probate file closes out. A lot of attorneys, high debt fact, it's, you know, I don't know why they do it. Maybe they want to get higher fees or something, but all they do is, so if they generate $50,000 from the sale, that money goes into the estate and then that money's dispersed upon final distribution. But it stops the mortgage, it stops, you know, the maintenance, it stops all the bleeding, which is the number one reason why we buy the properties. So hope that helps.
Joe: Yeah. So when in your letter are you saying anything like, sorry for your loss, or are you just saying, hey, do you want to sell your property?
Rick: We do a condolences. I've test marketed each way and um, it's sincere, but you know, we don't act like we knew, you know, Uncle Joe when he passed away, we just go ahead and get the white elephant out of the room. I've tried it both ways, you know, I think sometimes we just overthinking it. I you avoid that the house is in probate, they're going to know when they call you, they're going to ask you how you got on the list. So we just kind of throw it out there. You know, offering my sincere condolences.
Rick: You know, this is a tough time for you and everybody deals with a different process and just let you know, if you need any assistance or help and then we put the property address in there and then we go into, you know, just to let you know, you can avoid some of the pitfalls of owning a property through the entire probate process if you'd like to talk out, you know, reach out here's my cell phone number. No answering machines I'll talk to you live. And that's the key. We don't have like, we answer the phone on Sunday, Joe it's that important to us. We just took a call, what was it, last Wednesday at like 10 o'clock at night.
Rick: And I mean, we did ready for this. We did the whole thing, a lot of PR's obviously we have a lot of people from New York and Florida. She was in New York, did the whole thing over the phone sent over. We use Dot Loop, which is same thing as Docusign. Signed it, we didn't even look at the property. And so with our new system were much faster getting the paperwork done. We don't sit around and wait for inspections as long anymore. It's an aggressive market. As I said, the person that usually beats me as a realtor because all the realtor has to do is show up, show up with a listing agreement and you're out.
Rick: You have no shot. Zero. So it's, we talked about this five years ago, just to answer your phone. If you're going to do a mass, this isn't a mass marketing system. It's really straight forward, by the way it works in every county. Even in California, I got someone out there that does amazing deals and all he focuses is on a probates. So it's very focused it's evergreen. My system's updated, everything in the last four and a half years. So we talked about warm calling, I suppose the cold calling, you just have to have a step by step process. And, my son is the master at this. He spent two years doing this and he's really good at it. And then we also, I also offered a, another tactic with it, on how to get to the probate leads first.
Rick: It's not for everyone, Joe. I'll give full disclosure, but I get a lot of young hustlers, you know, it's just called a Pre Probate Strategy and we teach you how to pull that information. And I give a lot of disclosures because we just don't want it abused. It's, you know, there's always a quicker way to get to a probate. Remember when a probates filed, the lawyers filed the paperwork, the families usually grieved, they've said their peace and now they've got to deal with the financials. On a pre probate process you've got to be really, really careful because I mean you got people reaching out within three or four days of somebody passing away. But it does work. I'm not going to lie to you, so I've included on how to process and how to do it ethically and correctly. But I guarantee I'll get you to the lead first.
Rick: What you do with it from there is completely up to you. So and also on that is I have also included instant outsourcing, which I used to sell as a $300 packet and it's just a system I teach you if you want to bring in a VA. We have VA's that help us, we have to cross reference the property appraiser's site. We have to pull a lot of data, do some skip tracing and stuff and we walk you through that process. It's about, I think it's about a 30 minute video and I show you what I do with my VA and I actually share my training videos with it and we're going to include that in here with the system it's really cool. So I think we sold it for $297 separately last time I was with you. And we've updated it and it works. So I like to work with VA's and we want to share with everyone so.
Joe: While you were talking I found a PDF that's maybe a hundred pages long, of letters that this one guy received for his probate.
Rick: Well, listen probates, there more competition.
Joe: You got to have thick skin right. I mean, you got to come into a knowing that you not going to make everybody happy.
Rick: No you're not, that's right.
Joe: Your not going to make friends.
Rick: So if there was one thing, you walk away with it, if you're going to start probates, just really give it the rest of the year. I'm telling you we have such…
Joe: That's really, really good advice. Can I emphasize that a little bit Rick? Like a lot of people come to probates and just say, I'll try it out for a little bit. I'll send 500 letters and see if it works. You might as well just don't do it. Don't waste your money.
Rick: I agree.
Joe: You've go to be committed to it. I usually say 3 to 6 months, but I like 12 months, especially probate. You got to coming to it for at least 12 months of mailing multiple times over and over and over again because it takes that long to start really seeing the big deals.
Rick: I think sometimes people take the phrase, you know, just take massive action and listen, there's truth to that, but you have to have you have to have precision and you've got to be calculated and then you take massive action. It doesn't take long. So like my system's really simple. It's so cheap it's almost embarrassing to me. But to be honest with you, I have people who make six figures just focusing on probates. Now, if you're not currently using probates in two or three hours, you can get fully trained. You have the scripts, have everything, the letters, like honestly I'm as expensive as we make everything else. To me, it's just like a no brainer. If you're not doing probates, you've got to ask yourself why you're not doing it. If you say you don't have enough time, I can tell you it isn’t time.
Rick: Because I've got people working 60, 70 hours a week they love it. I don't even have CRMs, I know a shocking that is, no Podio, no Freedom Soft and they make it work. They just do it off like a yellow piece of paper. Now I use a lot of other strategies for full disclosure, but my favorite, if you had to cut me off probates, I would have a difficult time with it because it's, so effective. So it's more competitive. We're reaching farther by contacting the PR directly, doing some pre probate strategies. But you give me another source of marketing we all haven't like pushed the boundaries. So remember the guy who ran the, what was it? The, what was the mile barrier? Was at the five minute mile or the four minute mile for like 50 years ago.
Joe: It was like 3minutes or something ridiculous.
Rick: So, but the funny thing is when the guy broke it, that one year, 50 people broke it like within the next three months. So it's, you know, it's just if you take precise, calculated, massive action and what I mean by massive action, give it six months because the nice thing is not going to cost you $5,000 grand off the bat to do it. It's a couple hundred bucks to do the training, a $100 to $200 for the marketing and just you can guide it along and man, when it pops you're going to start dancing. And I would never ever stop doing it. And I found them by accident Joe. If I did them back in 2004, I don't know where I'd be today. I mean, just a massive amount of, there was very little competition back then, but I'm going to do it probably 20 years from now.
Rick: I'm not going to change because the reality is we're all not going to be on the face of this earth forever. And everybody at some process will have to go through this. So if you've never dealt with probate, this will actually educate you. And the unfortunate if you ever have to deal with family, which we've dealt with before, we kind of got an idea of like how it works and what you need to do so you learn a lot so. And then I teach you like the biggest thing we do too is working with your title companies because they've got to be on your side. And when I did this, I didn't know a lot about probates I knew about marketing. And I can tell you this, if you have a fear of like, I don't know everything about probates, priority, probate really kind of takes that out.
Rick: You don't need to know everything. And I show you how to implore a team, meaning you don't have to go hire five people. We use your title company, show you how to use a lawyer, even how to use a realtor to work with you to help educate your client and hopefully solve their problem. And you got to beat those realtors some to the deal. So maybe I should just ban all realtors from buying the products so I wouldn't have to worry about it.
Joe: That wouldn't be a bad idea.
Rick: I was pitched to offer the realtors and I said, I'm not going to do it. I'm just because I don't know what they're going to do with it. So it's because it's the brokers that are pushing this more because they're the ones who are funding the marketing so.
Joe: Yeah, I'm still looking at this PDF and I'm scrolling down it, I emailed it to you by the way. You might want to put it in your course.
Rick: One of the things we've updated on the course is to make it a little bit more evergreen is because people constantly, you know, can you update the letter? Can you update the letter? Listen, I put 50 letters in there. You got a mail them, you've got to mail them. And I've learned with probate not to get too cute with graphics. A little tip, make it as personable as possible and leave the LLC and the, you know, pron investors LLC off of there. It just, they want to know when they make that phone call that they're going to connect with someone. So put yourself in their shoes. If I'm reaching out and say someone died in my family and I have the guts to call you now some are going to call just to chew you out and that's where we're going to teach you how to get fixed skin with people.
Rick: But like they are being vulnerable and they're taking a huge leap of faith you've got to make it work. There is nothing worse when you take it and it goes to, I don't want to use names, but if it goes to like a third party answering service and they're like, what's your name? Like here's what I get in Florida like an answering service. Okay, what's the address? What's the square footage of your basement in Florida? They go crazy here and I could train it hundred times. I have massive deal flow, but it's like I can't, like I would never run an answering service it just drives me nuts. So we really, and probate, I will tell you, your success is dependent like when you answer that phone, if you're going to be sincere and answer the phone or not.
Rick: So we talked about this earlier, it's just sometimes just easier to answer your phone and get the information, maybe get an appointment or even take it down over the phone. You ever try to call back at like a motivated seller? Like they're voicemail's full and like we've sometimes waited weeks and in five minutes I could have solved everything and sometimes it takes you 6 to 8 man hours to connect with that motivated seller. So answering your phones, being consistent and just being a real human being with people as made a tremendous difference. I like, I care what happens to the people and since my name's it I want to get it done.
Rick: And by the way, when you get these really good deals, you're like, Rick, you know what if I don't have any money, I promise you can go out there and find someone to partner up with you. You can wholesale the deal, there is plenty of room in it to make it work. You're not buying these things .80, .90 cents on the dollar Joe. I mean, we're typically like maximum .50 cents. So we just bought one the other day, we're under contract and it's worth $240,000 and we're buying it for $90,000 and we have a small air conditioning issue, which is like a $4,000 fix for us. So can I wholesale it? Can I hold tale it? Can I retail it? Listen, do whatever you want with them. Just get, if you get in front of probates, the sky's the limit in what you can do.
Rick: And to be honest with all the strategy I use, like probates is simplest one of them all, it really is.
Joe: That's good to know. Good. Because it intimidates a lot of people. But it's really, it's not that, there's a lot involved, right? But like when you get a simple course like what you have and it's not that expensive, just explain the basic concepts of it and you go deep a little bit when you need to, but it's really not that big of a deal. And if you've got, if the seller likes you and you're just nice, they're going to work with you while you figure it out, you know, and you can get a title company or an attorney to help you with that. Not a big deal. Real quick, I want to give everybody a link to go to to get more information about Rick's course.
Joe: It's real simple link, you ready? ProbateJoe.com. It's real complicated, write it down. Go to ProbateJoe.com. Go check out Rick's course. I don't know if anybody else out there who has a better course on probates than Rick does. Rick's been doing it for a long, long time. He's known around the country as somebody who's an expert in probates. So if you're looking at just adding one or two deals a year, probate deals a year.
Rick: Profitable ones.
Joe: Profitable ones of course. You got to get Rick's class it's just a no brainer. And it's not like, I want to relax everybody too. Because like every time I talk about somebody else's course, people I can get emails like, oh, but I was going to be doing lease options if I was going to do wholesaling or I was going to do, I was going to do small towns. And it's like, what should I do? Well, something like this, you can do it with whatever else you're doing. It's not like if you have to do only probates and only wholesaling or you know what I mean? This is just a tool that you had in your toolbox about maybe send a couple of hundred letters a month that's it. And this go, how long would it take to go through this course, Rick, if you were to start it and go straight through?
Rick: We have eight total modules and you can bang it out and like two and a half hour sand it's really simple. I went back and spent some time and really organized it and I test market it. And so each module, like we'll have a link for it for, you know, the type of form. So if we're going over scripts we do an extensive video and then we put the script below it and. We made it where we can add a little bit more to this and do a lot more with the course. And as I said, if the course is, it doesn't matter how experienced you are, I was almost, what, 10 years in this business. And I just couldn't find, I just couldn't find like someone that would show me how to do like probates. I got bits and pieces, but I never put it all together. So I just went on this journey to like figure out how to do it.
Rick: And so for just a very inexpensive fee, I walk you through it. And here and Joe knows this is, I teach like a niche specific marketing. It's the idea is to get you to a deal. Joe can help you complete the deal. I tell you, I've even done, I've done subject twos out of probates and, you know, we show you all, it just leads you to and it shows you how to get the contract. The sky's the limit in what you can do with a probate after that. I mean, you taking over a deceased person's mortgage happens a lot more than you think it does. You just, but that rolls into another course. And that's something Joe can help you out with. My job's just to point you in the right direction. If you're not doing probates, I implore you to really look into why you're not doing it.
Rick: If you invested a small, and I mean this is a tiny fraction. I think we offered $198 bucks to make a $36,000 deal. And you could do it just say once or twice a year, your return on your investments, like phenomenal. So it's convenient you do it from the comfort of your home. I know everybody wants to come to Florida, but I make it as convenient as possible. And then I offer, I think for additional bonuses, it'll be in the probate Joe, and then that instant outsourcing. And then I'll make sure I get my son's story Bags To Riches and we'll just put it in, probably put it in the podcast below and people just download as they need.
Joe: Yeah sounds good.
Rick: Yeah, he's 19 now and he's like, he wants to do like 500 counties across the country and probates, but it's as I said scale, listen, master your market first before you take on the world. And that goes for bandit signs, you know, lease options, direct mail, the whole nine yards. It gets a little bit more problematic because every system is different. And so within a 50 mile radius, I got four different counties and we have four different operation manuals. And that's the part where I want you to guys to kind of understand that. So, that's it man. You kind of do probates. If you're not doing probate, you're missing out on a huge, huge deal flow that's going to be your lowest per cost. It trumps the direct mail right now. I mean we don't get as many but it costs us like, I think it's around $65 as a cost per lead to contract for a probate.
Rick: I'm not even going to share what my direct mail is. It's way, the multiples it's insane as you know. So if you're starting out on a budget and you go, I don't know, I go, this is definitely for you because if I had to get a deal like tomorrow in your backyard, I would get you on the phone and just teaching you to have conversations with people. You could still do the mail, but it does take some time. But if you want to be aggressive about it you can do it. I just, I want to emphasize being aggressive means you're helping people. You're not, you know, you got to have a plan. So if you take that precision, you get my course, you take the direction, you take massive action. And you even use Joe as a tool to help you harvest what you can do with the deal. Then that's what I call being a really, really good investor. Other people just call and go, what am I going to do now?
Joe: Well, here's what, I'm just going to end it with this. Because a lot of people are there doing different kinds of marketing and a lot of investors have stopped doing direct mail and you're doing texting and cold calling, bandit signs, driving for dollars or whatnot. But to dip your toes back into the direct mail marketing again, I'd strongly encourage you to think about probates because those are, again, you don't need to send a lot of them, but if you do it consistently, just send three to 500 letters every single month over time you're going to start doing big deals from that.
Joe: Go to ProbateJoe.com ProbateJoe.com there's a little video there by from Rick talking about the course really cool. So guys, you go to RealEstateInvestingMastery.com to get that book that we were talking about that Rick was saying from his son. And that's pretty cool. And then also leave a review. Go to ProbateJoe.com. Anything else, Rick? Final parting words?
Rick: No, if you guys if you want to connect with me and I have some testimonials you want to review some stuff outside of the course. Just go to a Flip With Rick. We have a group page there it's free. And I got a lot of people I work with. We've had it up and running a couple of years, so anybody puts a question on there, we try to answer it by the end of the day. So I'm accessible. I don't like, I'm very busy I do real estate full time and what I do is I try to use things that work in my business and I try to bring them to the market at a very affordable price to help out as many as people, because I didn't have this type of stuff when I was going through it.
Rick: So it's Flip With Rick. You can just Google it on a not Google it whatever on Facebook and there's a group, they're just join their ask a couple of questions and as I said, I got nothing to sell you there, we just we like to, it's got to be about real estate investing with love to talk about that stuff. So we talk about probates a lot there.
Joe: Good. Alright. Thank you very much, Rick. Appreciate it.
Rick: I appreciate it, Joe. Thanks for having me.
Joe: We'll see you guys later. Go to ProbateJoe.com. Bye.