Real Estate Marketing Ideas, Farm Fridays

How to Market to Absentee Property Owners

By Meaghan Loraas Last Updated December 16, 2021 6 min read

Hello there, and welcome back to Farm Friday! I hope everyone is staying warm these days. We may have a snowy holiday week here in Portland, and my family and I are excited about that! Last week, we discussed making a YouTube banner for your channel to entice viewers to click and view your videos. As we mentioned, one of the top requests we get from our clients is more content and resources for video marketing. However, another top request from clients is resources for lead generation.

Real estate lead generation is one of the most critical topics for new and seasoned real estate professionals. When circle prospecting and direct mail turn stale for you, you may need to turn to more creative ways to generate leads and referrals. 

Not only are absentee property owners an excellent source for real estate investors to keep their pipeline full, but they also make great leads for real estate agents. 

What is an absentee owner?

An absentee property owner owns a piece of property but does not reside on the property. This could be due to several reasons, such as being out of town or out of the country for an extended period. Absentee owners can be a great way to generate leads, but you need to market to them specifically. You cannot simply send an email blast to everyone with a piece of property in your area.

Types of Absentee Owners and Properties

There are multiple types of absentee owners and the properties they own. For example, the following situations could all fall under the category of absentee owners:

  • The owner is out of town or out of the country for an extended period and cannot physically manage or care for the property
  • The owner has died, and the estate is being managed by an executor or trustee
  • Property is in probate
  • The property is a vacation home
  • Property is a short-term rental
  • Property is a long-term rental

The pros and cons of each type of property are the most important things to understand before you start marketing to absentee owners. If you are not familiar with the different types of properties and how to market to the respective owners, you could be wasting your time (and money) on marketing campaigns.

For example, if you know that most absentee owners are out of town or out of the country for an extended period, you would want to create a specifically designed campaign. This might include a postcard campaign or an email campaign that offers information about caring for the property in their absence.

On the other hand, if you know that most absentee owners are deceased and an executor or trustee is managing the estate, your marketing campaign would be different than if you were to market directly to the owner of a single-family rental.

Absentee Owners of a Vacation Home

The COVID-19 pandemic affected many real estate investors and vacation-home owners due to travel bans and quarantine rules. Second homes are typically known as vacation properties. During a recession, vacation property holders might be the first to notice price declines as they reconsider their expenditures and the high upkeep, utility, and holding expenses associated with a second house. Real estate investors may be interested in targeting these homes to hold as short-term vacation rentals. 

Local real estate agents can target owners of a vacation home for future listings, knowing that they reside out of state. When developing your marketing strategy for these owners, you should consider the following reasons why absentee owners of vacation homes may be willing to list their property or sell to a real estate investor:

  • not emotionally attached
  • can no longer afford a second home
  • increased costs of property maintenance services
real estate marketing
If your prospective leads want to reduce their expenses, you may be able to convince them to list their vacation homes.

Single-Family Rental Property Owners

Single-family rental property owners are another group of absentee owners who may be open to selling their property to a real estate investor. These owners are typically more financially stable than vacation property owners because they have a steady income stream from renting their property. They also tend to be less emotional about the property’s location and amenities.

Some of the same strategies used to market to absentee owners of vacation homes apply to single-family rental property owners. For example, suppose you know where most single-family rental property holders live. In that case, you can use this knowledge to develop a targeted marketing plan, such as direct mail or circle prospecting. You can also contact local property management companies and ask them to share details about the property owners they represent, though that’s not likely to be too fruitful.

Consider the following reasons why a single-family rental property owner may be willing to sell their home to a real estate investor:

  • frustration with rent control rules
  • poor return on investment with current rental income
  • problems with tenants
  • periods of non-tenancy in the current housing market

Absentee Owners of a Property in Probate

When a probate case involves multiple heirs, it could take months or even years before all assets are distributed. In some cases, a court will appoint a personal representative to manage the decedent’s affairs until the distribution occurs. The personal representative has authority over the decedent‘s property until the estate is closed. If an investor purchases the property during this period, they will need to work closely with the personal representative to close the sale.

If the personal representative has already been appointed when the property goes into probate, you can still market to the absentee owners. However, you must understand that the personal representative will have more power and influence over the property than any other party. They will be able to make decisions regarding the property without consulting the absentee owners. Therefore, you should only approach the personal representative if you have a compelling reason to do so.

If the personal representative does not want to sell the property, you may convince them by offering a higher purchase price. However, if the personal representative refuses to sell the property, you may be out of luck. 

How to Find Absentee Owner Leads

Now that you understand how to market to absentee owners, how do you find them? First, review the prospect list from your prospecting campaigns. Note all new prospects who live out-of-state or have an investment property in a different state. This will become your starting point for building a custom buyer profile.

Check public records to see if an individual or a company owns the property. If you find that a company owns the property, you can research the individuals associated with that company.

There are also a few online resources that can help you identify absentee owners. The National Association of Realtors (NAR) publishes an annual report (known as the Profile of International Activity in Real Estate ) that determines how many buyers and sellers came from outside the United States. Search for this report on NAR’s website to see if any of your leads fall into that category.

real estate lead generation
Search public records to find who owns vacant properties in your area.

How to Market to Absentee Property Owners

Once you identify the absentee homeowners of a property, how do you market to them?

Direct Mail Campaigns

The first step is to send out a direct mail campaign. You can purchase mailing lists of absentee owners who own real estate for sale in similar neighborhoods. Include information about how their investment property stacks up against competitors and how long it’s likely to stay on the market.

Social Media

You can also market to absentee owners through social media. Create a custom audience on Facebook and target individuals who live out-of-state or own investment properties in other states. Use the same criteria for your Twitter audience.

Real Estate Conferences

Another way to market to absentee owners is by attending real estate conferences and trade shows in other states. Meet with local real estate agents and ask them to refer you to their out-of-state clients.

Rental Listings

If you notice rental listings in your area are staying on the market for a while, you may be able to contact the owners of these vacant properties. Unless they have an emotional attachment, you may be able to compare other recent real estate deals to convince them to sell.

Absentee property owners can be a great way to generate leads, but you need to market to them specifically. By using the tips in this article, you can increase your chances of reaching this lucrative market.

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When it comes to developing real estate marketing campaigns, we here at Virtuance have a ton of ideas for you. Tune in every week for a new Farm Friday or sign up for The Good Stuff, our weekly email newsletter. That way, you’ll get valuable content and tips like this article in your inbox every week!