Archive for May, 2011
In Connecticut and New Jersey, zip codes begin with zero, and zero is not a numeral value recognized in Excel, so it will drop the zero and you’ll have a four digit zip code instead of five. Here’s how to remedy this unique problem:
1. Highlight entire ‘zip’ column (If you scroll over the letter that corresponds with the column, you will see a down arrow appear. Click on the letter and the entire column will be selected).
2. Right click and select ‘Format Cells’
3. Under the Numbers Tab, Select ‘Special’ (second from the bottom)
4. Select ‘Zip Code’ (should already be highlighted for you)
5. Select ‘OK’
6. The 0’s will have appeared in front of all your zip codes!
In an earlier post, we submitted that you should have a script prepared when communicating with distressed homeowners 30, 60 or 90 days late on their mortgage payment, at least a guided script or a blueprint. In theater, actors are scripted to create a predictable response from the audience and likewise, you can elicit a response from homeowners in pre foreclosure if you have a script prepared.
Drawing from our experience with what has worked well for other agents and convinced in the “soft sell approach”, here is a script you can use when knocking on the doors of distressed homeowners reported as being late in our prescreened mortgage late list:
Knock knock (stand away from the door and if you hear someone coming to the door, turn your head backwards to disarm the homeowner) When the homeowner comes to the door, STEP BACK. You don’t want the homeowner to feel threatened. First impressions last forever.
“Hi, Mr. Smith?… My name is Jim, I hope I’m not interrupting dinner, I’ll be out of your hair in a second, I just wanted to get this into your hands (hand them a business card, flyer, or other material with a link to an online report)… I’m not sure if this applies to you or not, but I’m sure you know somebody. I’m a neighborhood real estate and short sale expert, I offer ethical and compassionate solutions to problems with real estate loans. If you know anyone, co-worker, family member, friend, someone in the gym, that owes more on their house than what it’s worth or is having a hard time making their mortgage payment, please have them go here to get a free report on their options and how to get fair market price for their home. It’s not about me, I hope they call me, but they’ll thank you for providing this free resource. Thanks for your time, Mr. Smith”
Hopefully this provides a general framework/verbiage for a script, and your report can become viral or the “soft sell” approach disarms the homeowner on our list and they become receptive to your message and begin asking questions. If they are not receptive, follow-up is in order. Having personally visited the homeowner, you have more of a licence to contact them again.
It’s worth noting that many homeowners on our list that are reported as being late on their mortgage payment may be taken aback or offended if you profess that you have inside knowledge that they are behind, which is why we advocate this soft approach.
For more ideas and to build a list of homeowners 30, 60 or 90 days late on their mortgage payment, visit www.preforeclosuredata.net.
Postage is expensive nowadays, and everyone wants to save coins. Using a postage meter can be tempting to shave marketing expenses, but first class postage gets the highest open rate. Live stamps typically more than pay for themselves because it adds a personal feel to your correspondence.
Remember, your envelope has two purposes:
1) Carry your message to its intended recipient;
2) To get it opened.
On the second part, you have a brief moment to get your foot in the door. Regardless of how much time and effort you and your team spent developing your mail piece, you can go from hero to goat in mere seconds.
While first class postage commands the most attention, to create even more impact, consider using unique attention-grabbing stamps with animal, seasonal or other unique designs on it.
It’s Sales 101. When you want to capture your prospect’s interest and speak to their felt need (the thing that makes them want to buy), you sell the benefits, not the features of your product or service.
Take the electric drill. Nobody is going to buy one just so they can have an electric drill. They buy one because they want holes. Clean holes, deep holes, accurate holes, fast holes, holes of many sizes, holes in different materials. Most people don’t care what the drill is made from or how the circuitry is toggled – they do care that it makes holes. They might also care that the drill is light-weight, but spare them a discussion of the space-age aluminum casing. Thy might like that it is maneuverable, UL approved, has a super-long cord and comes in its own carrying case. But they only care about those things because they add to performance, convenience or safety – benefits, not features, and they appeal at an emotional level.
The same with distressed homeowners.
You’ve saved 28 homeowners from foreclosure last month? Great feature, but it doesn’t help them. Your a member of the Better Business Bureau? Another feature that doesn’t in any shape or form provide relief to the struggling homeowner that can’t sleep at night. You are among the top 5% sellers in your market? Great feature to have on a resume, but it doesn’t stop annoying collection calls that keep coming in since the homeowner lost their job and the bills are piling up. You are a Certified Distressed Property Expert? The homeowner doesn’t care about your expertise or training, or credentials. Zig Ziglar once said, “people buy on emotion and justify it later with logic”.
To get through to distressed homeowners, you must present yourself not as a real estate agent selling your services, but rather, a problem solver that communicates in terms of benefits. While features talk about you, the agent, benefits answer the question that is foremost in their minds – what’s in it for me? How can you make my life better?
Some examples of benefits might be:
- Stop the harassing collection calls
- Get a good night’s sleep for the first time in six months.
- Save your credit
- Comfort your family
- Relieve the uncertainty
- Return to normal day to day activities
We can provide more examples. The main concept to get at 40,000 feet is that distressed homeowners that are at their wits end will make their decision to work with you based on emotions, not logic.
At preforeclosuredata.net, we provide early, accurate and exclusive pre foreclosure data on distressed homeowners before their hardship reaches any public file.
One of the challenges when marketing to homeowners in pre foreclosure is to overcome their mistrust. In order to unthaw these emotionally frozen homeowners that are often feeling embarrassment, shame and guilt, it takes an entirely different mindset than what most agents are use to.
Most agents sell their services, but when approaching homeowners that are late on their mortgage payment, you should focus on solving their problem, not selling your services.
Distressed homeowners expect a real estate agent to want to sell the house. They expect a lawyer to want them to file a bankruptcy. They expect an investor to rip them off. They have nowhere to turn, in their minds, because their stereotypical thinking limits the possibilities that professionals provide.
The distressed homeowner should see that you are not only after the listing, but that you have a variety of tools in your toolbox to help them, including a loan modification, Deed In Lieu, forbearance, etc. One of the options, but not the only one in your tool box, is a short sale.
At first, this may seem counterintuitive since you are in the business of selling homes. Yet the homeowner needs to know that you have their best interest in mind. By presenting several options on the table, you overcome their stereotypical view of a REALTOR and gain trust by putting their welfare foremost. A homeowner is more likely to trust a professional that provides “ethical and compassionate solutions to problems with real estate loans”, than a REALTOR that merely lists homes.
I spoke to a gentleman today that has a thriving law firm that specializes in bankruptcy. He advertised “Debt relief without bankruptcy” to overcome the stereotype of a bankruptcy to differentiate himself and set appointments to get in front of people that did not understand bankruptcy. You, too, can find a way to trigger action in the distressed homeowner.
The concept to grasp is that you can get through to distressed homeowners if they view you as a trusted adviser that has is not motivated by the selfish gain of commission.
One of our clients that accesses our 30-60-90 day late list bore this out recently with a beach home in Southern California.
The homeowner could not afford the prime real estate and chose to move inland and rent the home to make the mortgage payment. The owner called in the agent to review the loan modification paperwork and the agent helped dot the i’s and cross the t’s. Later, when the loan mod was disapproved and with the options limited, the agent listed the home. Having held the homeowner’s hand from the beginning of this difficult and emotionally charged experience, the agent had proved that he was there to help and built rapport and trust.
I’ve been in sales in one form or another all of my life, and I was WOWED by a blog written by an admitedly non-sales person. “I do not have a sales personality and do not win people over with my personality”, he candidly admits, and yet he has a thriving law practice helping distressed homeowners.
There is a disconnect, he submits. There are millions of homeowners going through foreclosure, but only thousands of short sales. The message of solutions and hope, then, are not resonating with distressed homeowners. The message is not “reaching distressed homeowners in ways that cause them to respond”.
Clearly, a short sale is superior to a foreclosure or DIL. So why is it so difficult to get a short sale listing?
Because realtors focus on selling, he submits. Realtors focus on selling, not solving problems.
This non-sales person says, “I do not sell, but I can solve problems.” He goes onto say,
“When, in selling real estate, I stopped selling and stopped holding open houses (where they would run the other way when they met me, lol), I started finding people who needed help and focused on solving their problem of selling or buying a home. It is a different mindset, a different method of locating clients and customers, and a different approach to communicating with them”
He observes that people in distress are “emotionally frozen” and in “slow motion”, which isn’t a revelation to anyone that has been working with them.
HOW DO YOU UNFREEZE THEM?
He provides a refreshingly simple answer. You have to focus on solving the problem, not selling your services. You have to “visualize the future and provide them with something that they desire more than the fear of the present”.
To unthaw distressed homeowners and galvanize them out of inaction, you, the agent, has to “stop selling them and solve a problem”, and see you for more than a sterotypical realtor.
“They must see that you are not after only the listing, but that you have a variety of tools in your toolbox to help them. You see, they expect a real estate agent only to want to sell the house and they stereotype that they cannot sell it, not understanding the concept of a short sale. They expect a lawyer to want them to file bankrutpcy. They expect an investor to only be wanting to rip them off. They have nowhere to turn, in their minds, because their stereotypical thinking limits the possibilities that professionals provide.”
He advertises “Debt relief without bankruptcy” to smash through the stereotype of an attorney and spurr people to set an appointment to discover the options available.
Are you a Realtor, or are you a problem solver? If you are a Realtor, distressed homeowners don’t need you. If you are a problem solver, your services are in high demand.
Read Ken’s full, unedited blog here.
The knee-jerk answer would be that public record data is more cost effective, as the per-record cost is typically much less than prescreened credit data.
Yet public record data is just that – public. Since everyone else has access to this information, the competition is fierce. If the homeowner has been served a notice of intent by the lender to begin foreclosure proceedings, they quickly get saturated with solicitations. Once they open their mailbox, direct mail pours out into the street. What’s the chances that any one mail piece makes an impact?
So while initially, prescreened credit data initially costs more, there is less competition and in the end is much more cost effective than public record information, because of reduced competition. When you factor into postage, printing, labor, etc, prescreened credit data wins hands down because you have more of a captive audience that isn’t inundated with marketing messages from the rest of the pack.
When marketing to distressed homeowners 30, 60, or 90 days late on their mortgage payment, they are myriad variables that will determine the success of your campaign. From our experience, the biggest factor is the number of touch points with the homeowner.
Sending out one mailer, one time, to one list, will hopefully provide a listing or two or three. That will pay for the cost of the campaign and put a lot of money in your pocket. But marketing has never been, meant to be, nor will ever be, a one-time deal.
Repetition will multiply its response. Let’s say your first mailing gets a 1% response on the first mailing, 1% on the second, and 2% on the third. If the campaign stopped after the first mailing, it would have cut the results by 75%.
People respond to repetition. It’s like a parent that finally gives in to repeated requests for a new toy, a piece of candy, or permission to stay up late. Distressed homeowners are the same way. Probably more so because the entire media for the past few years have essentially told them that if they are approached with an offer to stave foreclosure, it’s probably a scam. This makes repetition all the more important because repetition builds familiarity, which in turn builds credibility, which in turn builds trust.
By being “in the face” of distressed homeowners, you ensure that you are in the forefront, even if the timing isn’t right for the struggling homeowner to take immediate action because there are other orbits in their busy life that command their attention. Repetition guarantees that you reach the financially distressed homeowner on the magic day… maybe that day is when the two spouses finally sit down to discuss their finances, or it’s the day the ominous credit card bill arrives, or a notice that no more unemployment checks will come, or when their neighbors boast about the new mortgage that saved them hundreds of dollars a month.
Armed with early default data from the credit bureaus, you can send out one mail piece to one group one time and wait for the phone to ring – obviously one completed short sale transaction will pay for the cost of the campaign and put a lot of money in your pocket. But multiple touch points is the biggest determinant of success.
Consider the marketing of Publishers Clearing House. Here is a company who sells magazines with great flare… “Win 10 million dollars in the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes!” You’d think everyone would jump at the chance to win all that money and get their magazine of choice, right? Of course not – we all know it’s not that easy. They get people to buy its magazines through an absolutely incredible marketing campaign. The center point of that campaign is repetitive mailings over an extended period of time. The tenet of the Publishers Clearing House marketing will work for you.
To bounce some ideas around on how you can get in front of distressed borrowers that need your help, call 866-490-3459 or as a starting point for a conversation, request a free count of delinquent homeowners in your area.
Spanish-speaking clients that use our early preforeclosure data have report remarkable success by starting a conversation with Hispanic homeowners that are falling behind on their mortgage. The reason should be obvious – in order for a troubled borrower to work with you, they have to like you and trust you. By speaking their language and sharing a like culture, you can generate immediate rapport.
Keep in mind, there is no one monolithic “Hispanic market”. The culture, beliefs, opinions and consumer behavior patterns of U.S. Hispanics are not identical, as a result of the influence of differences in their native countries’ geography, indigenous ancestry and colonial origins. The unifying thread is the language. Wherever they’re from and regardless of their history, Spanish is a key to their individual and collective pasts.
According to Laura Sonderup, the Director of Heinrich Hispanidad, a division of Heinrich Marketing, Inc.,
“When asked about advertising effectiveness, 38% of Hispanics surveyed found English language ads less effective than Spanish ads in terms of recall and 70% less effective than Spanish ads in terms of persuasion. Many younger and acculturated Latinos mix languages into a form of “Spanglish,” in which they speak English peppered with Spanish words. But when it comes to selling, 56% of Latino adults respond best to advertising when it is presented in Spanish.”
To build a list of distressed homeowners that makes sense to your business, request a free area analysis.
Some clients like to target distressed homeowners that are falling behind on their mortgage payment that have FHA & VA loans because of the streamlined short sale process.
As a possible filter, we can select distressed homeowners with FHA/VA loans by going in to the Property/Real Estate screen:
Keep in mind, this filter will eliminate many available records and we don’t recommend screening by loan type unless you are in a very densely populated area or you select a large geographical area. This is especially true because when filtering by FHA/VA loans, we will select only Equifax as the supplier because they have the most accurate information in terms of what the loan type is.
What’s your sweet spot? Request a free area analysis of distressed homeowners in your area by filling out a quick form with your criteria.