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RISMEDIA, November 14, 2009—According to NAR, almost 50% of homes sold nationwide in the first quarter of 2009 were distressed homes. One-third of those were short sales, two-thirds were foreclosures and looking ahead, these numbers are not getting any smaller. It is estimated that the distressed property market will continue to grow over the next several years. As sobering as these numbers may be, they represent a unique opportunity for Realtors. By using their skills and knowledge, real estate agents across the country are providing options for people in desperate situations. And, with each success, the Realtor becomes an essential part of the bigger real estate solution. 

So how do you get your share of this market and become a part of the solution? It all starts with the list. When a borrower defaults on mortgage payments, the lender will file a public default notice. For the do-it-yourself agent, this information can be obtained from the county court house with a little leg work but the process can be time consuming. One company that has simplified the distressed property list procurement process is RealtyTrac. For a monthly fee, a Realtor can receive a daily e-mail feed of this information and avoid spending time on list gathering. 

Once you have a daily list of properties in your area that have fallen behind on mortgage payments, it is important to proceed with caution. These homeowners are scared, intimidated and in most cases feel their situation is hopeless. Because of this, they often choose the worst course of action, which is to do nothing. And as they wait, hoping for a miracle, legal letters from their lender begin to pile up. It is at this critical moment that you need to get your message of hope to the homeowner. But how can you get their attention when they aren’t even opening the legal letters piling up around them? Postcards can be the answer. The message on a postcard is not hidden by an envelope so it is more likely to be read in the first place. And, postcards have a friendly appeal which helps to make their messages less intimidating. Yes, the message on a distressed property postcard is quite similar to that of a distressed property letter, but the delivery method makes the difference. There is something a lot less formal and threatening about receiving a postcard than an “official letter.” One comes off as a scary legal document. The other shows a friendly face presenting options, assistance and hope. 

A direct mail provider, LentzDesign, recently introduced a complete line of distressed property postcards. Their new category is called “Short Sale” and they currently offer six different designs. These postcards are completely personalized with all of the realtors contact information and can be purchased in quantities as low as 100 postcards for as little as 22 cents each. This price includes full color printing on the front and back and gloss coating on the front. Each postcard design offers confidential assistance to troubled homeowners without recommending a homeowner short sale or default on their mortgage. Instead, the cards are positive in that they offer the homeowner a lifeline of support. The descriptive photos and phrases, however, capture the essence of the situation which, for many, is filled with anxiety and despair. These postcards make a personal connection where letters often fail and motivate homeowners to call before it’s too late. 

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