What does it take to be an expert in finding real estate notes?
We’re pretty sure mailing 50,000 note holders per month qualifies. Get all the details in our exclusive Note Investor (NI) interview with Scott Arpan of Advanced Seller Data Services (ASDS).
NI: What is the current focus of your company?
We strive to be the premier supplier of lists for seller carryback notes used by the nation’s top note brokers. Our list of note holders is the only product we have ever sold and rely on its integrity to remain in business. We are always reviewing our proprietary programs to pull more and higher quality leads then anyone else in addition to providing more ancillary services for the note broker.
NI: How did you get your start in the note business?
Scott Arpan of ASDS: My father Larry entered the note business in 1990 as a broker. I joined him in 1994 as the business prospered. We were one of the larger note brokers in the country based on the volume of deals we supplied to the two largest note buying companies at the time. Our primary resource to locate notes was a mailing a list we developed after being frustrated by the companies selling note holder lists focused on data for title companies, Realtors and mortgage brokers and they did a poor job makings lists for our little niche industry they did not understand.
My father retired in 1999 and I took the business a new direction a few years latter, investing in non-performing notes solely for my own account. Meanwhile I had a system to collect note holder names in over 2000 counties which became Advanced Seller Data Services.
NI: What unique benefits does your company provide?
We are the only list vendor with hands on experience mailing note holders and we pass on our experiences and expertise to our customers for free. We mailed up to 50,000 note holders per month providing us with special insight how to run a profitable mailing campaign most note brokers do not have. Ten unique benefits of our company are listed on our website notesellerlist.com.
NI: What type of transactions will your company consider funding?
For the past seven years I have split my time between creating our note broker mailing lists and buying non-performing notes. The only notes I am interested in are defaulted or otherwise high risk notes I feel comfortable taking through foreclosure, repairing and selling. Currently, I only want notes in Oregon or Washington, preferably near Portland. Most offers I make are between 25 and 40 cents on the dollar for full purchases.
NI: What do you consider the best methods to find cash flow notes?
Brokers must use a multi-pronged marketing approach to finding notes. While I would love to have brokers spend all of their money on my lists, they are better off in the long run developing a website and mailing note holders. Direct mail will inform note holders of your services and spark an interest in your company without a search engine redirecting them to a competitor. The website will give a note holder a greater depth of information about your service and why they should trust you.
In the long run I believe, and research has supported, highly targeted mailing lists are cheaper then developing a website and going to the expense of pay per click and other methods for obtaining a high page ranking. While a high ranked website may draw more note holders, direct mail can focus on notes you can actually close with much less competition.
NI: What advice would you give to new professionals just starting out in the cash flow industry?
Control anything about your business within your control and learn to adjust as markets change and you develop your business acumen.
1) Have a vision and budget to guide you. – Develop a plan how to start your business slowly and build momentum as you learn and improve from experience. Also, know where every dollar is spent in your budding company and use your resources as efficiently as possible. For brokers interested in developing a direct mail campaign, I offer a free simple budgeting program to help you get started.
2) Build trust. – A note is usually the most valuable asset a person will hold. Note holders owning other valuable assets are less willing to sell their note at a reasonable discount then those with no other financial alternative. Nobody will sell a valued possession to anyone they can not connect with personally or have doubts about their character. You must also develop trust from the investors you work with. Treat everyone you work with like they are your family.
3) Have a marketing message that attracts profitable note holders. – Your message to the note holder must convey trust and motivate them to contact you. I have seen very smart and experienced brokers fail to attract prospects because their message was bland, boring, redundant, or way off point. Your image and message are your only “hook” to bring sellers to you. I have several articles on my website how to develop a message. This topic is so important and vast that I can provide your readers even more valuable information.
NI: What is the most common business mistake you see people make in the cash flow note business?
As a list provider I see over confidence and lack of confidence in a marketing plan as the biggest cause of failure. When brokers are either overconfident or under-confident with their business plan they act in ways detrimental to any business.
Overconfident brokers fall in love with their marketing plan and will not consult outside sources or listen to their customers about changes necessary to make their marketing plan effective.
These brokers believe they have more talent or special insight over other brokers to attract every note holders and their business will automatically prosper accordingly. Most end up delivering subpar messages to note holders that do not produce and grow frustrated because they don’t know what they don’t know about marketing.
In truth, new brokers need to expect lower response and closing rates starting out and see improvement and higher profits as they gain experience, knowledge and insight to what motivates note holders to call. Successful brokers listen to what note holders are telling them (sometimes by silence) about their message and change accordingly. Every note broker who earns a very good living today started modestly and continued to learn as any entry level person would for all other professions before they mastered their craft.
Under-confident brokers usually come to me after their first mailing failed. Either the delivery of their message was poor or they mailed a list that came from: 1) a company supplying free lists that pretty much provides the same name to many brokers; or 2) list sellers charging astronomical prices and promise an “exclusive” note holder name that is not exclusive; or 3) list sellers who focus on working with title companies, mortgage brokers and Realtors and do not clean their list before selling it to the unsuspecting note broker.
The ones from this group who eventually succeed can step away from their disappointment and logically analyze what went wrong. The great thing about direct mail is its ability to be precisely measurable so problems can be identified and fixed.
NI: What sort of changes are you seeing with real estate notes in the current economy?
We see many more quality notes being created in the past year. Seller financing is a more viable option now then anytime in the past decade. As real estate agents, sellers and buyers discover the benefits of seller financing we will see even more of a boom. I believe now is the best time to enter the note business since the mid 1990’s.
NI: Where can someone contact you to obtain more information?
They can call me at 800-992-4536, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit our website NoteSellerList.com which I update with new marketing information regularly.