The Three Things You Need To Do If You Want A 10% Response Rate


The Short Sale market is becoming more competitive every single day. So you can’t expect the same results from strategies that used to work back in 2006. Today you’re competing with dozens of other people who are fighting to pick up that lead. What do you need to do to stand out compared to all the clutter?

We know that in our market there’s going to be 50+ people bombarding the leads. So how can we deliver our message in a way that grabs their attention AND gets them to respond?

In this article we’ll show you how to build an effective marketing strategy that we use to get response rates of 10% (and higher), and you don’t even need a large marketing budget.

Before We Get Started

To preface everything that I’m about to say about marketing: The most important thing about marketing in real estate is consistency. The definition of consistent, to me, is taking action every single day for a few months in a row. Not a week or a couple days. And to me, that also means doing it consistently, every day. Not “I sent some letters on Monday, and then I sent some again on Thursday.

To measure results effectively you need to give it a solid 2-3 months of implementation every single day.

The Mailing Strategy

The bread and butter of Short Sale marketing. We still use the yellow type letter as our primary form of marketing. But our goal is to get this letter delivered FIRST. If we get our letter there even a day before the rest of the clutter, our message has a much better chance of standing out and getting opened.

We went to our county recorder. Every state is a little bit different, but they have to file something. And I said, OK. How do they file it? She goes, “What do you mean?” I said, say I’m a lender, and I want to file this notice of successor trustee. Do I call you on the phone to file it, do I fax you something, do I email you something? They said, “No, it’s something that’s imaged through our system here.” And I said, “OK. How do I get access to that system?”

For 200 bucks a month, I can be on the same system as the biggest county works on here in Missouri and get access to their system. As soon as these notices of successor trustees come in, my marketing department sends out the letter, right there on the spot.

The Letter

You want to keep the letter short and sweet. You goal isn’t to convince them to work with you, or to sell them. It’s just to get them to take the next action so YOU have a chance to sell them. To make it easier you should break each step of the process down into steps:

  • The goal of your envelope is to get them to open the envelop.
  • The goal of your letter is to get them to pick up the phone and call.

So we use envelopes that imitate a wedding invitation style. We use stamps that have an image of two rings on them. Not regular postage stamps. This makes it look like an actual invitation to a wedding. These cost the same, you’ll just have to pick them up at the post office. The return address’s are both handwritten. That way when it’s delivered it resembles a wedding invitation.

The message on the inside is short and sweet. It says:

Hey, My name is [Jason Roberts].

I see that your property is going to auction in the next couple of weeks. I’m interested in purchasing the property. Please give me a call so I can try to contact your lender and get your sale date postponed or stopped. [Number]

In order to get someone to call you have to appeal to what’s important to them. Selling their house might not be important to them. The fact that I’m an investor probably isn’t important to them. But the fact that I can get their sale date cancelled or postponed IS important to them.

Find & Call The Resident

As soon as we get that notice of successor trustee, we go to and we do a reverse look up to get their phone number.

We give them a call and leave a message saying something along the lines of: “Hey, I sent you a letter about your property. I know your sale date’s coming up in a couple weeks. Give me a call back and let me see what I can do to try and get your lender to stop the sale. [Then leave your number for callback.]

This starts to form a little more legitimacy than the other people who only send the letters. Because they get my message on their answering machine that preempts the letter. Then they receive the mail and see our message again.

Message them on Facebook

This is probably the most sneaky thing that we do, and this pulls better than any of the other two things, independently.

First you need to find the person on Facebook. Facebook takes your search term and looks locally if it can find that match close to you. Then it starts using more criteria like mutual friends and interests. So it’s important to have your markets city/state on your Facebook page.


Once you find the person with the same name and in the correct city you’ll send them a very similar message to what you send them in the mail and called them with. You don’t have to be their friend already on facebook.


If the person has a very common name you might get multiple results in the same city. That’s fine. Just send them all a message. But do your best to always try and find the right person.

This is incredibly powerful because everyone is hooked into Facebook. A lot of times this message will alert them on their phone or they’ll see it the next time they log in. Also, your competition ISN’T doing this. So it’s another medium where you will show up and they wont, increasing your chances of a response.

Note: Facebook has made an update to where they sometimes ask to charge you to deliver a message to a user who isn’t your friend. For local people it doesn’t happen too often and if it does it’s usually only $1.00 which isn’t that big of a deal. Consider it a tiny marketing expense.

For Other Areas & Markets

We’re in a 21 day market. That means as soon as they get filed the residents only have 21 days until auction. So for that reason we only send one letter, one facebook message, and we call them a 2-3 times.

For other markets where it might be a longer process, you’ll want to send a letter as soon as they are filed. Then send them another one 21 days out. You’ll also want to call them a few times as soon as they are filed. Then slowly ramp up the amount of times you call them as they get closer to their sale date.

Don’t be afraid to call them too much. Some people will answer or call you back JUST because you’re bombarding them with messages. And that’s okay. When they call you back just explain that people wait until the last minute and expect you to work miracles. So you try your best to get a hold of them while you still have plenty of time to work with.

Insourcing The Entire Process

You don’t have to do this all yourself but you need to make sure it gets done and gets done consistently. If you don’t follow every step and you don’t do this every day you can’t expect to achieve a 10% response rate.

If you don’t want to do this yourself you can go to Craigslist and post an ad for someone to come in and do this for you. It’ll only take 1-2 hours a day and you can pay someone $7-$8 dollars an hour. So for around $15/day you can have your entire Short Sale marketing plan done for you.

There’s other options but we prefer to have it done in-house so we can make sure everything gets done. I like that every day when I walk past our little mail area up front at the office, I can see that bin full of outbound mail. And I don’t have to wonder if my mail went out.

The Results

We try to hit them from two or three different angles with unique marketing pieces that are geared to get them to open and respond to our message. This all plays into why we get a 10% response rate. Because we’re doing things a little outside the box that no one else is doing.

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