First Probate Call! and Give Away Week!

Scott CostelloAll, Blog, Probate Investing 46 Comments

phonecallIt didn’t take very long, that is for sure!  I sent out the probate letters Tuesday at noon and the first call came in today while I was at work.  Unfortunately I can’t answer the phone at work (speaking of which I’ve got a question that I’ll ask later), so I called the guy back when I got home from work.  Was I nervous?  Yup!  The phone call went very quickly.  Not much was really said as my goal was to get an appointment to go see the house and that is exactly what I got.  This Sunday at 10am I’ll be meeting with the guy to show me the house.  1 down!

Want to hear something funny?  Now I can’t prove this but after the phone call I was checking out the stats on my blog (for some reason they have tripled the last two days) and I saw that someone searched for “Scott Costello 973-xxx-xxxx”.  I bet it was the guy from the house checking up on me.  No big deal as I have nothing to hide, but I found it funny.  He’ll just know that I’m relatively new at all of this if he read at all.  Transparency is a good thing as it breads trust.

Voice Mail Message Question…

For those that can’t always answer the phone, what sort of away message do you leave?  Just name and number or more?

Christmas Give Away Week!

I was trying to think of a way to give back to all the people who visit my blog to read what I’m doing and to keep me motivated and I think I came up with a great Idea.  Next week, starting on Monday (14th) I am going to give away one thing to a reader each day.  Here is the list of items that I might give away, you’ll have to check back each day to see what exactly the gift will be but they are going to be good.  I even might have a generous surprise from one of our fellow investors (we are still working out the details).  With out further ado…

  1. Steve Cook’s Rehabbing for Big Cash v2.0
  2. Stephani Davis’ Flip this REO eBook
  3. Bill Guerra’s Audio Workshop – How to Talk to Real Estate Sellers
  4. John “Cash” Lock’s – Big Bucks Bird-Dogging
  5. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki

I may be adding more stuff, but for now those are the items.  The rules will be simple and I’ll post them on Monday when the first Item will be given away.  Hopefully I can help someone get their new year off to a great start.  If anyone wants to donate an item to the give away, email me at

Scott Costello
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Comments 46

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  2. Congratufreakinlations Scott!!

    See what happens when you grab your marbles like the little girl you are LOL!!!! I crack myself up sometimes.

    Anyways, I notice the same thing with the google comment. I check to see what keywords I'm being found at and I see a lot of my name and company name. It's all good, I don't mind, it is flattering though that someone is spending the time to look me up. It's like you're e celebrity now 🙂

  3. Way to go, Scotty! Getting that appointment is a big deal. As far as the voicemail, I ask them to also provide the address for the property (because that allows me to look up the comps and other details prior to speaking to them).

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  5. Good job Scott.
    I have used a variety of recorded messages each with varying degrees of success depending on the list used.
    I have used patlive which has a pre-recorded message with an option for the caller to press 5 and talk to a live operator. It ended up being 200/month. But it helped a lot since i was mailing about 2500 pieces a month and didn't want to field all those calls.
    I have used which is a much more reasonable recorded message service. You get up to 99 voice recorded boxes with a main recording to direct them to the correct message. Your mailings can direct them to a specific box as well.
    That being said, Probate is a unique list. Since it is such a hard list to get, not many
    mailers will get sent to them. The initial list is small (remember to do repeat mailings to the list as it grows…) so you can take calls directly if you want. Callers tend to be very, very nice people. They are not crazy (usually) so you don't need to protect yourself behind a recorded message and voicemail system like you would with a more broad-reaching mail list like absentee or free and clear or the dreaded pre-foreclosure psychos. Especially in times like these, being very genuine and a real, individual person rather than a more corporate-type of presence helps with probate responders.
    I am a big believer of the bat-phone method. Cell phone that someone can/will answer when it rings. The voice mail should be very personable. Here's what mine says. “Hi, this is Scott Taylor. Thank you so much for calling, I really appreciate it. I've been really busy this week and don't have a chance to get to every call. Please leave a message with your return number and I'll call you as soon as I can. If there is a best time for me to call you back, please leave it in the message as well. Thanks again, and happy holidays…” Easy, peasy, lemon squeezy…

    As far as what info to get on the phone? I have used a number of 'info sheets' over the last couple years, but I have realized that I tended to gravitate to a few key pieces of information and disregard the rest. I have abandoned the complicated sheets and now ask 4 initial questions. I call it the WOWW formula.

    1. What do they feel the property is worth, in the current condition, in the current market? (often they will tell you that they have no idea. they're lying. they have an idea. What I ask them when they say that is, “well, if you did know, or if you were forced to guess, what would you say the house is worth in today's market and in the current condition?” They'll often come up with a number at that point. It's important to get an idea of what they think it's worth. We'll talk about that on #3.

    2. What is owed against the property? Probate will occasionally have small mortgages, reverse mortgages, private notes, tax/mechanics/utilities leans. I ask about all of these. When they ask why I need the info? “well, if I'm going to buy the house, I'll need to pay off all the loans and leins before you can get paid.” That usually satisfies them. If they won't tell you what's owed, its an indication that they don't trust you and you can spend some time around that if you like or just try for the appointment. Lots of free and clear properties in the probate market, so I'll often ask “is there a mortgage on the property or is it free and clear?”

    3. What would they be willing to take for the property in a quick-sale? This is a critical question for one key reason. The greater difference between what they think the property is worth and what they would take for it indicates the level of motivation to sell.

    4. When. “Is there a time when the heirs would like to be done with the sale?” or “Have you thought about when you'd like to have the property sold?” Probate is problematic in this way because a lot of times they are attached to items in the house or the house or a tree-swing or the neighborhood… Asking this question gives you a chance to talk about all these things and is a good guage of their level of attachment to the property.
    Depending on how the responses to the WOWW go, i'll often make small talk about the house (rooms/baths, what work needs to be done, etc…)
    I have one key rule with these properties. Tattoo this on the inside of your wrist or brand it on your eyelids… IF THERE IS EQUITY, GO.
    You did the right thing by setting the appointment. You are going to do much better in building rapport, determining a value, determining repairs, negotiating the deal… all are better face to face. Equity? Go! (for our purposes, equity is the amount from question 1 minus question 2.)

    Once the appointment is set, get off the phone and get to work. Pull comps, print a property profile, search out foreclosures in the area (go to for some help with that if you need it)… crank your offers, pre-print 3-4 copies of your purchase contracts, disclosures and be sure to go early and drive the comps.

    Buy that house! Flip the contract. Cash the check. Rinse. Repeat.

    Go get em Scottie!

  6. Way to go Scott! Feels good to get that first one out of the way huh? The rest should get easier as you go.

    Interested to see what you have up your sleeve for your contests lol Great job!

  7. I definitely want to keep the momentum going.

    I am reading Million Dollar Habits (6 chapters down) and I'm relating it to my experiences so far and it's definitely true that the fear is always there, but you replace that fear with something else (excitement perhaps?) to overcome it. The habit of fear can easily slip back to the forefront though.

  8. Thanks for the advice Shae. I'll do that. Even if I already know the address from the probate records it never hurts to have them confirm it.

  9. I really appreciate you taking the time to write what you did and I'll be sure to follow up with some questions. I've got to read it more indepth when I get home and have more time to digest it.

    Thanks 11daysale!

  10. Scotty, I'd like to donate a copy of The Go-Giver autographed by the author Bob Burg. I still have one left from my giveaway earlier this year and would happy to share it with one of your readers.

  11. haha, that works for me. Simple! Thanks Nick. Now I just have to make sure I have enough readers to give all this great stuff out to. Feel free to let everyone you know about the give away.

  12. I think I'm just going to have anyone who wants to partake in the the giveaway, for that day, to post a comment on the blog post or opt-in through a form on the post (or both). Then I'll pick the winner “out of a hat” like the guy did in the video Nick showed. I may even create a video like that to announce the winner.

  13. Answer the phone when they call. Don't be afraid of the questions. Just like when we call the cable company or the power company. Don't you feel better when you get a live person?

    A lot of my deals are biz, not RE related but the personal touch works.

    Be that live person.

  14. You are completely right Eric. Over the past few months I've gotten much more comfortable with answering the phone and I'm starting to listen to the caller more now instead of thinking about what I'm going to say next.

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