This is episode #417, and my guest today is Larry Higgins, a Skip Tracing expert.

As a real estate investor, there’s nothing more important than LEADS. For that reason, it’s critical that you stay on the cutting edge of what’s working now to connect with motivated sellers.

For those that believe that this market is too hot – consider that the number of motivated sellers in America with distressed houses to sell hasn’t changed meaningfully. We don’t wish this on anyone…but as long as there’s death, divorce, tenants tearing up rental properties and all the other situations that happen in life, there will be distressed seller situations.

However, you might need to use a different technique to communicate with sellers. Today, Larry shares what’s working now in skip tracing and cold calling prospective sellers. His techniques can be used by anyone, even if you have little to no marketing budget.

If you want to do more deals – don’t miss this episode.

Please help me welcome Larry Higgins to the show!

Highlights of this show

  • Meet Larry Higgins, skip trace expert for real estate investors
  • Learn how to find real estate leads that most others have given up on.
  • Learn why you may be able to find the deepest real estate buyers with sellers that don’t know they are heirs to a property.
  • Learn how to get started with skip tracing.

Resources and Links from this show:

Listen to the Audio Version of this Episode

FlipNerd Show Transcript:

Mike: This is the flipnerd.com Expert Real Estate Investing Show. The show for real estate investors, whether you’re a veteran or brand new. I’m your host, Mike Hambright and each week I bring you a new expert guest that will share their knowledge and lessons with you. If you’re excited about real estate investing, believe in personal responsibility, and taking control of your life and financial destiny, you’re in the right place. This is episode number 417 and my guest today is Larry Higgins, a skip tracing expert. As a real estate investor, there’s nothing more important than leads. For that reason, it’s critical that you stay on the cutting edge of what’s working now to connect with motivated sellers, those willing to sell their houses at deep discounts.
For those that believe that this market is too hot, well, consider that the number of motivated sellers in America with distressed houses to sell hasn’t changed meaningfully. The game has changed, but those sellers have not, those opportunities have not. We don’t wish this on anyone but as long as there’s death, divorce, tenants tearing up rental properties, and all sorts of other situations that happen in life, they will be distressed sellers and looking to sell quickly. However, you might need to use a different technique, a different way to communicate with sellers today. Today Larry shares what’s working now in skip tracing and cold calling prospective sellers. His techniques can be used by anyone, even if you have little to no marketing budget. If you want to do more deals, do not miss today’s episode. Please help me welcome Larry Higgins to the show. Hey, Larry. Welcome to the show.
Larry: Hey, Mike. Good to be back. Oh, man, good to see you.
Mike: Good to see you, man. Yeah, it’s always good to see you. Hey, I’m really excited to talk about skip tracing somewhere and we were talking about it a fair bit lately. You and I’ve seen each other a number of times lately. And it’s just one of those . . . if you kind of like where to get a list of hot trends in real estate investing like skip tracing and cold calling are at the top of that list this year, wouldn’t you say?
Larry: Absolutely. And there’s some other stuff we’ll get into later, but even within that there’s a little subsets of things that are kind of flavor of the month and things like that.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. And the funny thing is it’s not anything new, right? I mean, skip trace has been around for a long time, and certainly cold calling. And heck I remember sitting at the dinner table when I was a little kid and phone blowing up from a siding salesman or whatever it might have been back then. So it’s just kind of like what was old is new again, right?
Larry: Yeah. I mean, that’s directly because of the saturation other traditional marketing channels as far as real estate investors go. The mail, internet. I don’t know what’s your cost per buy on the internet right now but it’s probably not gotten cheaper in the last few years.
Mike: Yeah. Everything’s a little more competitive right now in every market across the country. So the fact that matter is there’s still people dying, there’s still divorce issues, there’s still all of the life issues that happen that create opportunities for real estate investors have not changed in any way. It’s just how we how we find those people, right?
Larry: Absolutely.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. Well, hey, before we jump into this and I know there’s going to be some good actionable stuff that’s going to come out of today’s show. For those that haven’t met you before, aren’t aware of you, why don’t you tell them your background?
Larry: Yeah, so the kind of abbreviated version after I’m an Aggie, gig ’em. Yeah. After that, I went into construction. Did that for a while after college, and then jumped into real estate about four years ago and started off . . . all I wanted to do is owner finance. And after two deals, got into some wholesaling, never wanted to be a wholesaler at all, zero desire. Four years later, here I am, primarily wholesaling. I love it. But along that way, I got into skip tracing as a way to source deals and a lot of that was born from frustration with the mail and I tried bandit signs. I never had internet presence or anything like that, but even three and half years ago I didn’t like the competition in mail, especially I wasn’t a heavy mailer either. I didn’t fail at it. I didn’t put enough effort in it to really make it work good but I knew it saturated then.
So that got me down the path of, like, “Hey, I don’t want to compete with everybody else in mail and if you listen to everybody, people, mentors, coaches, people on Bigger Pockets, Facebook. It’s you don’t have money. If you’re new and you’re struggling to get deals go drive for dollars, get some vacant houses. My thought was . . . and the deal is I did do I noticed vacant . . . if they were vacant, I’m always looking at where the common denominators. You know, you start reverse engineering all your deals and one of those factors that they have in common—vacancy and then on top of that I learned deceased owners as well.
But to really pursue . . . said, “I won’t pursue vacant houses,” and if it’s so freaking great then that’s what they tell everybody to do. If they have no other option, why not get really good at it? That was my attitude. So I transition from mail. I was still pretty new but did a lot of systematically driving for dollars.
And over time, built a system that I go to pursue vacant houses and one thing led to another. And I started learning how to skip trace. That was that was the only way to find some of these people and a lot of them, but you know, take a little bit further and partner up with Will Denker here in Houston and this became our core competency to go get deals using skip tracing and cold calling.
And then a little over a year ago we started Skip Genie. I’m sure some of your viewers or listeners have heard of us, but it was . . . I knew the frustration. I’m not that far removed from it in listening to what’s going on across the country. You hear all these frustrations. I know you do. I was like, “People need help. I think we can provide it. Not just with data but how to use that data effectively in overall strategies or even individually like trying to find that one area when there’s the owners died and they had no kids, no parents, no siblings, nothing. It’s like what do you do?”
Mike: Yeah. Historically, we would kind of like try to get the title company to help, but it’s not really their job and they’re only going to take it so far. They may say, “Well, we tried something,” and you just kind of start to feel like you’re handicap, right? Like you can’t . . . “I don’t know what to do.” But yeah, Skip Genie is a great service. You know what’s interesting to me is? So I was talking about this recently to somebody is for years a byproduct of all of the mail that I was doing. I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on direct mail. As you know, I know you’re already laughing, I used to just throw this stuff. When I get my returned ones back we pretty much just throw it away. It’s like take it off our list and throw those away. Get those stacks out of here.
But on top of that, before we even . . . when we bought our mail, we bought our lists, they would usually bounce it off of the deliverability list for the U.S. post office or whatever. And if the post office of the house was vacant and it was on undeliverable, we would not buy that data. Like the same houses that you’re targeting now for years, and not just me, like 99 out of 100 real estate investors, right, probably were completely avoiding those houses that probably are some of the greatest opportunities out there, right?
Larry: Yeah. I’m laughing because I’m sitting there thinking, “I would have paid just for the ones that are undeliverable.” And again, I know I’m not the same. Everybody has their own way of doing stuff but that would have been the stuff I really looked at. And you talk about throwing your mail away, I guarantee you people watching or listening to this, that when we go talk to local groups or different . . . whatever we’re doing, if we’re going to talk, I’ll ask, “How many y’all have a box of return mail you just you don’t know what to do with, you just save it?”
We’ve literally had people contact us that have over 10,000 pieces of return mail. It goes back years sometimes but . . . or I’ll say, “Or maybe you’ve compiled the spreadsheet with . . . you know, you take your mail, your return mail and you build the spreadsheet and it just keeps getting longer and longer. You know you need to do something, you don’t want throw it away, but you don’t know what to do with it.” Yeah. If you do mail, you have that problem.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. I’m kind of explaining myself like I’m an absolute fool, but I know I’m not the only one, so I’m a party of fools. So, well, if folks really aren’t sure what we’re talking about yet what, is skip tracing? What does that mean? Just kind of explain it.
Larry: So skip tracing in a nutshell, it’s just . . . I say tracking down, but it’s finding, locating the owner, the person you’re trying to find which is basically who you’ve identified as a possible likely seller. You know, there’s some type of motivation generally or maybe at least a ton of equity. In most cases, for purposes of this discussion, it’s people sending mail gets returned and they don’t know what to do. Like, “Well the county says they live there. Well, like what I do now if they don’t live there?” Or the other most common scenario is driving by seeing a vacant house. It’s like, “Okay, how I find these people? So skip tracing, you’re going to use some type of service. There’s plenty of them out there which you can enter name and an address, two points or references, and it’s basically going to come back and give you information on that person.
You know, a good service should give you quite a bit address history, maybe a more current address. Are they even alive? Or maybe they’re alive, but they’re 99 years old. Or do they live out of state? But for contact purposes, the most important thing is their phone numbers. Here’s a list of likely phone numbers for this person. So you can just pick up the phone and call them versus trying to send the mail, send the letter. Even if you have a 100% confirmed address, I would still say don’t bother with a letter, just pick up the phone and call because there are advantages to that.
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Larry: . . . service should give you quite a bit address history, maybe a more current address or they even alive, or maybe they’re alive but they’re 99 years old, or the do they live out of state. But for contact purposes, the most important thing is the phone numbers. Here’s a list of likely phone numbers for this person. So you can just pick up the phone and call them versus trying to send the mail, send the letter. Even if you have a 100% confirmed address, I would still say don’t bother with a letter, just pick up the phone and call because there are advantages to that.
Mike: Yeah. I mean, as real estate investors, if you’ve been active even for a short period of time, you’ve been in a neighborhood to go on an appointment or out looking at a house and in the process you see the house that’s got four foot high grass and a bunch of phone books are stacked up that have been sitting there and wet for six months or whatever, like we’ve all seen those houses that are just completely abandoned. And honestly, a lot of times we’re like, “I don’t know, it must be an REO. Like I don’t know what to do with it.” Right? And we just like move on. Like I just thought, “Well, I didn’t spend time on it but in hindsight, again, I feel like I could have done things a little differently.”
Larry: It’s funny you talk about that. I was driving the day and anytime I see electrical panel or anything on the side of a house, sometimes a lot of these houses, the older ones, especially you can see on them on the side. I was driving down the road and this is probably not a really old home, 15 years, maybe 20, and the yard look good. It didn’t scream out vacant. But just my eyes were drawn to the panel to the electrical box and looked and the meter been pulled. I’m like, “Okay, you got my attention.” So I turn around and get the address. I haven’t done anything yet, but just seeing that meter pulled, I’m like, “Okay, it’s a vacant,” and just wanted to run down. But there’s a little tip for anybody that’s driving for dollars.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And truthfully, I think what we’re talking about here is how to how to compete really in today’s market and how to do some things differently. It doesn’t mean this has to be your only technique. I know it is for you. Some people just do this to supplement other things they’re doing. But I think the bottom line is that we all . . . and even like guys like me, for years I’m teaching people how to do things in scale, like how to send out thousands or tens of thousands of letters or postcards at a time. How to like do things and big meaningful ways to try to get stuff in the funnel and probably lost in that in some of those lessons that I’ve taught and lots of others teach is that you’ve got an approach that’s more of a rifle approach and it’s working really effective right now. So sometimes the shotgun approach doesn’t work or doesn’t work the way it used to, right?
Larry: Yeah. And that’s what you said scaling. The mail is easy to scale and things like that. I’d say calling is a little bit harder to scale but every bit is scalable. They’re just more inputs involved in that. It’s not passive. You know, you yourself can drop 20,000 letters as quick as you can send it to the mail house. Now, I would say you can’t take that mail philosophy, skip trace that same list, and send a ringless voicemail out. You actually beat mail in that regard. But there’s pros and cons to that approach and that’s one tool to have in the toolbox.
Mike: Yeah. So for a lot of folks that are doing things in mass and again kind of shotgun approach, let’s talk about how this is a competitive advantage because honestly there’s a lot of real estate investors that have no problem sitting behind a computer ordering direct mail and they have admin taking their calls and things like that. Nothing wrong with that. Honestly, I’ve done that for a long time. But you have a competitive advantage now in people that are willing to take those extra steps. Pick up the phone, do some skip tracing, or even kind of build that process, at least for somebody in their team, right? I mean, there’s a lot of people that aren’t willing to kind of go back to the hustle tactics if they don’t have to.
Larry: Yeah. So I mentioned it earlier is basically, for the most part, if I had to put a percentage on it I’d say 85% to 90% of investors are all chasing the exact same owners. And some owners where nobody’s getting through to them because they’re not skip tracing a return mail or they’re not really pursuing that the vacant houses that they see or things like that. So one of the advantages there is you’re reaching people that nobody else is. It doesn’t guarantee they want to sell, but the odds are that they haven’t talked to anybody else. You’re not in a bidding war. Not always.
Sometimes the people you skip trace, even when you’re being kind of targeted, they could still be getting mail around that way or they may have gotten phone calls from other investors because calling is picking up a little bit. But it’s just less competition. Hands down it’s just less competition. And even if you are, say, you want to call the exact same list that you’re mailing and I said, “I’m going to take Mike’s list. I’m just going to call him.” Even though I know most of them are getting his mail, getting somebody on the phone and just the ability to build rapport or answer questions, build a comfort level can put you ahead of that call. Even when there is competition, it can give you a little bit of an advantage.
Mike: We’ve definitely seen people or had people say “Whenever . . . ” you probably get a fair number of people that chew you out on the phone for calling, right? But there’s always those people that you get that say, “Man, I get all these letters and they’re just all kind of the same and you’re the only person that’s called me. So let’s talk about it,” right? I mean, you kind of have differentiated yourself because most people aren’t doing that.
Larry: Yeah, it’s funny, a lot of people have that fear factor, like, “Man, people are going to bite my head off.” Some of it has to do with the nature of the properties you’re calling and just how good you are on the phone and your kind of general messaging and tone and things like that. But I’ve had . . . I’ll put it this way, when I was mailing I probably had just as many angry people call me off the letter . . .
Mike:Yeah, that’s true.
Larry: . . . as I have doing phone calls. You get some people they’re going to short with you, like, “No, not interested. Okay, cool.” But as far as people that are just really upset that we call, yeah they’re there, but there’s not that many of them.
Mike: Yeah, it’s just part of the process, right?
Larry: Yeah, absolutely.
Mike:You got to get through them.
Larry:And then, like you said, we have literally had people. I remember one lady, this was when Will and I first started working together. I think it was the first day. He wanted to see . . . he’d never done a lot of cold calling and we got a lady on the phone. First or second person we got on the phone. She’s like “I’ve had all these people send me letters, but you’re the only one that took the time to pick up the phone and call me. I just want to say thank you, I appreciate that.” We didn’t get a deal out of it, but I got a kick out of. That was pretty much his first experience on the phone. She was great.
Mike: It just kind of validates that some people will appreciate that you took that. They say that from their perspective you took the extra effort. Of course, maybe they think you just called them. Of course you’re calling people in mass or calling a whole list of people, at least, right? But it always stand out. Let’s talk about that a little bit, like ways to call. So obviously, for people that are listening right now, if you don’t like to call yourself . . . well, you don’t have to do it yourself. But if you’re new or trying to stay lean and mean you might be the person that’s on the phone. But I mean you could do it yourself, you could have a virtual assistant, there’s calls centers. Let’s kind of talk about the differences of kind of different ways to approach it.
Larry: Yeah. You know, a lot of people wouldn’t . . . when I talk to people, they say they want to start skip tracing cold calling, like, “What should I do?” And I kind of start asking questions for them, like, “What do you think you’re going to skip trace? Is it just return mail like 100 pieces a month or are you going to take a list of 1,000 properties and you want to call them all in two weeks?” So I’m trying to increase their volume in what the level of effort is going to require. So for the newer people you’re not going to hire anybody. You think you’re going to have relatively low volume. I’d probably recommend most people just do the calls yourself. Even if you think you’re going to hire a caller later, I still recommend do the cause yourself so you kind of see what goes into it, whether you’re dialing just from your phone manually or using an auto dialer.
You get a feel for what’s required on that end, you get a feel for how the conversations go, and you know, it’s good to know what you’re going to require of others, it’s good to know what they’re going through and what to expect. That’s what started off with. I did a lot of calls myself. I hated it. It’s not the funnest thing in the world but I kept doing it because it was effective.
A lot of people like to hire VAs, typically all of the Philippines. You can go on Upwork or Fiverr or . . . I can’t think of the other one, IVAS [SP]. They have they have somebody they prescreen for you and things like that. But VAs aren’t hard to find. That’s really why I tell people, even if they’re pretty lean early on. I’m like, “Look, your first goal should be . . . if you really want to expand this, your first objective should be that whatever proof of concept is for you, it’s two deals, five deals, making $20,000, $10,000, whatever, meet that benchmark, then you need to step out of calling and you hand that off to somebody else.”
Mike: Right. That’s the only way you’re going to be able to scale it, right?
Larry: Yeah. And that’s just not the highest and best use of your time. You should be looking for more of these leads for them to call. But the VAs one thing I would say with VAs is really test their call quality. What does it sound like in the background? You know, does it sound like they’re in a call center? Does it sound like they’re in the Philippines? And obviously, their English ability, accent, and things like that. Even the one with really good English, great call quality, sounds like they’re calling from across the street, the biggest issue I have with VAs is they tend to sound a little bit robotic. They’ll do whatever you ask them to do and they’re great, but they just . . . when it comes to building rapport, in empathizing with people, and kind of winging conversation, they’re kind of like they always want to get back to the script.
Mike: More scripted. Right. Right. Yeah. Of course, some people use, not this is right or wrong, but you don’t have to be all or nothing. Like you could use have VAs potentially just trying to make those connections and say “Can I transfer you to my boss,” or something like that where they’re just kind of going through the motions of leaving voicemails. My guess is when you do this the way you guys do it, your connection rate is pretty low ultimately with the person you’re trying to reach, right?
Larry: Yeah. For different reasons, but yeah. With what we’re doing, specifically we’re going after some pretty distressed properties and a lot of times they don’t . . . one you’re familiar with actually. We couldn’t reach the guy because he was in Saudi Arabia. We didn’t know that at the time, so we’re just calling everybody that we thought might be associated with him. Nobody ever answered, but they took one of our messages and forwarded it to him and then he contacted us from Saudi Arabia. So that’s an example. But yeah, the VAs, there’s different ways to integrate them. We tend to lean on what I call “local callers.” Then can be in the U.S., but I want them to be able to answer questions because we have a lot of people that were going into some really distressed situations and we want them to be able to build rapport and trust and things like that.
So we’re willing to pay that premium for these local callers. Like as an example, if I wanted to call the over 5,000 tax delinquent properties in Harris County. It’s more of a shotgun blast. Now you’re into the numbers and it’s kind of like mailing VA all day, every day. Two or three of them just go through and see what you can do. So that’s more of a volume play for me. Some people rely on. That’s no right or wrong, but to me it’s more of a volume thing to solely to use them for the calls. You can get them for three bucks an hour, two or three bucks an hour to eight or nine. It all depends, but it’s pretty cheap. With local callers, we pay anywhere from $15 to $20 an hour or commission only or some combination there. And then the other alternative is a call center. I haven’t researched all the call centers out there, but I do have a setup. I’m not currently using right now, but you know, John Martinez, Seller Snipers.
Mike: Seller Snipers, yeah.
Larry: If you’re going to use VAs, if you’re going to do a high volume, I would recommend looking at them just because they’ve gone through his training, they’ve been screened. It saves you all that work. You can just hand it to them. And I tested a very small niche list and they did provide some leads out of that.
Mike: Oh, good.
Larry: As far as the call center goes, that’s definitely an option there in. Yeah, that pretty well covers the different ways to knock out your callers.
Mike: You mentioned earlier, and I don’t have a lot of . . . we’ve done this . . . not for seller leads, we’ve done for some other things in the past. But ringless voicemail drops where you can basically send a voicemail to large groups of people at once. Like talk about that a little bit. That’s another thing that’s probably on the trending hotlist this year is ringless voicemails.
Larry: Yeah and I knew this was coming a couple years ago and actually took a little longer than I thought, but it’s a great tool to have in the toolbox. But so ringless voicemail for people that don’t know is basically it’s a prerecorded message. It’s like, “Hey, this is John. Give me a call. I want to talk to you about your house off Main Street,” or, “It’s urgent. I need to talk you on Main Street,” or whatever your message is. You’re trying to get them to call you back. You make them say, “Hey, I’d like to buy the house,” whatever it is. You can take that message and send it out to thousands of people at once. Some cases it might do half a ring on their phone and others it’s completely silent, never rings. They just get a notification that you have a voicemail.
And so that’s really caught on the last few months. I think probably really the last six months. It’s really got more and more popular. Because you can reach out and contact so many people so fast that quick which is one message. The mistake I see people make is they rely on the ringless voicemail to establish contact. So they’ll send the voicemail . . . to me, again, I equate it to mail. You send the letter waiting for somebody to call you back. But yeah, with voicemails I’ve seen it time and time again, people that actually do want to sell, they won’t answer and they won’t call you back from a voicemail. What I do like about the ringless voicemails is there’s low hanging fruit out there, you will get people to call you back. If you’re listed, most people will call you back.
But if it was absentee owner, high equity, or some, a little bit more generic less distressed list, that would be an example of a list where that would be my only means of trying to contact them. If you wanted to contact pre-foreclosures, I would start a campaign that way. “Here’s all the ringless voicemails but now nobody . . . ” send the voicemail out to 1000 people and then I would start to dial and start calling. And I might even do some texting on top of that, if there’s some that are really like and want to get in touch with the people.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. And I guess one of the things about ringless voicemail, if you’re doing it in mass is your message has to purposefully be kind of generic, right? You’re trying to say one thing that’s going to trigger a bunch of people to take action. So if you’re calling them, you could reference. We’re trying to find the owners or we’re trying to find this person because we believe he was the owner of 123 Main Street, whatever that is, you can kind of personalize it for the property you’re literally calling about versus some blanket message, right?
Larry: Yeah. And that’s the tricky part is like what’s the most appealing message to 1,000 people or 5,000 people? Whichever it is. And I’m real big on context and everything. Yeah, you’re probably have a different message for a pre-foreclosure versus a vacant house or a probate lead or whatever it is. It’s like I would zero in on specific message for each type of lead. So yeah, it’s definitely catching on. We don’t do a lot of it for different reasons, mainly the nature of our leads. It’s hard for us just to do a list of 1,000 because we had to . . . we do more in-depth research on leads before we start . . .
Mike: Yeah, you’re much more laser-focused than a lot of people do. Yeah.
Larry: Yeah. Now we will start going back to just processing entire list and loading them up in auto-dialer and just get going. Well, probably later this year we’ll start . . . those are what I consider still good leads, but we’re going to have a bigger ratio of leads pursued to deals and it’s still works. And then it makes sense to use the ringless voicemails more often because it’s going to be so easy. We already have the numbers, we just need to create a campaign and send it.
Mike: Okay. Okay, let’s talk about different list real fast or kind of how big to go. Like you said, some people maybe they just start by, “Well, I’m sending mail and I get some return mail. You can start there.” Some people want to go big and say, “I’m going to call 10,000 people a month,” or whatever it might be. But let’s talk about I guess kind of how big you go and then where do you get these lists at.
Larry: That’s a great question and a common question is like, “You know, what should I call or where I’ll get these lists?” So the most basic thing is creating a list from your return mail or vacant houses, that’s pretty easy. You create curate a list yourself. In other scenarios, it’s you could literally go to whoever’s providing your list service, your list for your mail, go to them and just take that list and now you just want to skip trace it. Depending on your volume, you might do more of a data appending where they add some phone numbers to it versus true skip tracing. Again, this goes back to whatever your volume is. But in general I tell people just “If you’re determined to call 20,000 people a month, you’ve got to be generic.” You have to.
Mike: You can’t afford. Yeah, just to give people some perspective, I know there’s different pricing, but skip tracing is more of a full research report with potentially a lot of numbers right and a data apend might just give you . . . might even come back with zero numbers, but it might give you one or two that may or may not be correct, right?
Larry: Yeah. And from that standpoint, you’re less concerned about the quality and completeness of the data. A lot of a lot of people we work with they’re somewhat targeted and they want to know is that person even alive. That’s a big thing for them. So when they run a report if that person has died and they see that in their skip trace report that tells them that they need to go research the relatives and things like that. The guy that’s trying to call 20,000 people month doesn’t care. He’s never going to put in that effort to dig in on that deceased owner. And if somebody doesn’t answer a phone call, they just keep dialing. You know, they keep digging in.
So on the list side, yeah, like I said, curating your own list with vacant houses, return mail, things like that, or go into a list provider. You know, if your goal is to hire, maybe you don’t want to be a full-blown telemarketer doing thousands a month, but you want to have more full time caller. I would say try and stack your list. You know, I call them layered stack list, whatever it is, but try and pick more than just one piece of criteria. You know, an example that would be tax delinquent. Well, what if you could do absentee owners with tax delinquency? Or in Texas, specifically, we have different stages of tax delinquency. Or absentee owners with tax delinquencies and expired listings. Now you stack that list with three different pieces of criteria.
Mike: Right. And maybe even all those. And they have enough equity. They’ve got 50% loan to value. You can just kind of keep adding them on, right?
Larry: Yeah. I always forget to mention that part. You know, you want to make sure that equity filters there or probate with tax issues, whatever that issue. I think people kind of get the point. It’s like just stack multiple things on top of it versus this one single piece of criteria.
Mike: Yeah, yeah. That’s awesome. That’s awesome. Well, Larry, if folks are listening to this, and they’re like, “Wow, this sounds awesome. It’s a way for me to get started.” I mean, I think one of the great things about this as if you’re a veteran real estate investor and you’ve relied only on doing stuff in mass over the years, this is something you probably need to add to your arsenal. If you’re a new investor and you don’t have a lot of money to get started, this is something you can start without a whole lot of money, right? I mean, you can get pretty targeted and you’re probably spending more of your time than money. But if you’re a new investor, that’s a pretty common scenario is you’ve got more time than money for lot of folks. But maybe give a little bit of guidance on for folks to kind of get started here if they hear this, and they’re like, “What do I go do like right after this show? What am I going to do to get started here?”
Larry: Yeah. What you said exactly right. Typically you’ve got more time than you do money or a lot more money and you do time. Typically, it’s out of balance. But yeah. So first thing is like figure out, I would say where you are, but where are you? You know, are you an established investor and you know you’ve got no desire to a setup a telemarketing wing of your operation. But you wouldn’t mind maximizing your mail or something like that. I would say start figuring that out. You know, how much return mail you getting a month on average? How many pieces is that?
Do you have the staff in-house that can handle doing those calls? You may not know that until you do it. You may not know the answer to that. Or maybe you know for sure you’re going to hire somebody, whether it’s a VA or maybe just hand it off to the call center, but establish what you want to skip trace initially. You know, what’s your volume going to be? Is it going to be the return mail or so how much?
And then if you’re a newer person go find . . . most markets in the major markets I say go find vacant houses, go find a bunch of them and to really be targeted in to get by. I’m real budget conscious for people like that. It’s like, how can we help you get a deal as quickly as possible? So go find 100 vacant houses and then prioritize them based off of distress. Mailing addresses, are they in an estate, expired listings, the condition of the properties? You take all these factors, then prioritize and pick your top 20 or 25. You can afford to skip trace 20,25 properties I hope or you maybe need to rethink real estate for a little bit until you can because it’s not that expensive but those are quality leads and then you all you have to do is start skip tracing home and start blowing up people’s phones. Not in bad way, but by that I mean . . .
Mike: Just get busy. Yeah.
Larry:Be thorough, be methodical, work through all those, and just get after it. Other people, they may know, like, especially people that are the higher level masterminds, they’re real big on systematized stuff right out the gate. They may already be looking at, “Hey, I want to set up my own call center in-house” And in that regard it’s like that’s a little bit higher level thinking. You probably don’t need skip tracing, you need more that data appending and there’s ratios out there. You know, there’s one guy I know that does a lot of that. His average caller talks to 600 owners to get a deal. So there’s a metric for you. It doesn’t work for me but, hey, it works for them and that’s kind of what you’re looking at. So . . .
Mike: But that’s somebody it sounds like that’s doing it in mass again not as kind of laser focus as you [guys 00:36:23] are.
Larry: Yeah. That’s a full-blown telemarketing setup. That’s all they’re doing. So they’re not going to dig in on anybody. It’s just dial, dial, dial and they’re not looking for really paying attention to anything other than phone numbers and talking to people. Really, that’s it. Assess where you are, what you want to do, that the initial assessment, are you going to hire anybody yes or no? What’s your budget? Do you have the time to dig in? And just get started.
You know, just like with a lot of people jumping a real estate thing and they’re going to do one thing, or you may end up like cold calling. Actually somebody listened to our first podcast. I talked to him last week. He was just going to do his return mail and I talked to him last week. Now he’s got three full time callers and it’s his only . . . he’s given up every other marketing means. So it’s that that path that we hear about so often. You start off doing one thing and it just turns into something else.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Awesome. Well, Larry, if folks want to learn more about you, so you obviously we’ve alluded that you own a company called Skip Genie that helps with skip tracing. I know you put a lot of good content and training out too. Is it the best place for folks to go? Just go check out Skip Genie and learn more about skip tracing even learn more about you out there?
Larry: Yeah. You know, go the website skipgenie.com. They can follow us on Facebook. I’m trying to get better at doing helpful information on our Facebook page, just little tips and things like that and just real case study scenarios of, “Hey, this is what happened. This is how we dealt with it,” or just to highlight a different point. I talk about different things, whether it’s overall strategy or in the nitty-gritty of, “Hey, this was my actual text message to somebody that wouldn’t answer me.”
Mike: Yeah, that’s good. Yeah, I learned. I know you do like case studies. I learn best from that and I think a lot of people do. Like, “Show me an example of what happened here and why it worked and stuff?” That helps me. So I think we’ll add links down below in the show notes here for Skip Genie and for your Facebook page as well. So awesome, man. I appreciate you spend time with us today.
Larry: No problem. I appreciate you have you back on. Obviously I enjoy talking about this stuff.
Mike: Yeah. Yeah. No, you’re the man. So we love the fact that you’re willing to share so much. So I appreciate you being here, my friend.
Larry: All right, thanks, Mike.
Mike: Yep. Hey everybody, thanks for joining us today with Larry Higgins, show number 417. If you haven’t yet, please go to iTunes, Stitcher Radio, Google Play, wherever you listen to us at, maybe even on YouTube and subscribe or give us positive rate. We appreciate that. Of course you can watch all of our shows. Over 1500 episodes of our different podcasts from over the past several years on flipnerd.com. Go check it out, share with somebody you love, somebody you hear about, somebody who wants to get started in real estate investing, or somebody wants take it to another level. So I appreciate you for listening. See you next time.
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