While probate properties offer opportunities to buy real estate for pennies on the dollar, finding them in a competitive market can be difficult.
As a real estate investor, don’t limit yourself to one method of locating properties. Here are 5 ways to find probate leads in Houston.
5 Ways to Find Probate Leads in TX
1. Read the Obituaries
This may seem like an ambulance-chasing attorney’s tactic to get new clients. But by paying attention to the obituaries you get the first information about who has died and who their heirs are. You can then search public records to obtain any real estate information and the contact information to heirs.
Remember that real estate investing is a competitive market especially in the niche of probate sales because investors feel properties are available for pennies on the dollar. The more information you can have before your competitors puts you in the driver’s seat. Once you have the basics and the initial emotions of the family loss have passed, you become positioned to approach the family with a viable offer.
2. Visit the Probate Courts
Probate court proceedings are public records. Talk to the court clerk and develop a system that makes sense for you to review court documents, looking for probate cases that have homes as an asset.
Don’t just look for the property information. Use the court documents to determine the financial status of the estate and who the heirs are, if any. If there are a lot of debts that need to be taken care of quickly, you can entice a sale sooner. Additionally, if there are no heirs, the estate executor might be relieved to get a potential offer sooner than later – especially if the estate is clear of large debts. He will want to close the estate as soon as possible.
3. Newspaper Probate Listings
Some local newspapers provide listings of probate sales and auctions. Go to the local library to review newspapers. The listings might also be available online.
As with any other method of obtaining a lead, perform the due diligence on the property and the estate prior to making an offer or attending an auction. This is all done at the county recorder’s office or the probate court.
4. Buy Leads Online
There are lead aggregators that sell leads for probate properties. These aggregators use a mix of public information such as newspaper listings and probate court filings as well as opt-in requests for information.
Do understand that aggregators that use public information are doing the same work you can do for free and charging you a premium for it. It is up to you whether this is a business expense that produces a return on investment by saving you time and energy.
As an investor, you might prefer the opt-in leads because the person opting into the aggregator for information is actively seeking information on selling a probate property. This type of lead suggests a sense of urgency by a seller and gives the investors an opportunity to talk to sellers before other investors step into the picture to compete with you.
5. Power Partnerships with Estate Planning Attorneys
Estate planning and probate attorneys should be power partners in your contact list. Not only do they have the information about properties that need to be sold, often they are the person making a decision on selling.
These partnerships put you as the investor in a position where the lead comes to you. As a probate attorney reviews an estate with its assets and debts, he may call you to review the investment opportunity to quickly close the debts or the entire estate.
Developing these relationships requires more than just making a call and introducing yourself. Demonstrate your professionalism. Understand the current market, be able to properly evaluate the home’s condition and value and have realistic expectations about making it a win-win situation.