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Article by Scott Rister
The Legal Separation For Finding Motivated Sellers

  Let's get right to the point: Divorce. Whether you realize it or not divorce is probably the #1 reason houses go into foreclosure. When payments on a house start getting behind that alone has caused many to file the legal separation of divorce.

  I come across many sellers who definitely fit my definition of "Motivated Seller" and are in the process of filing divorce or have already filed divorce. Now, before we talk about how to approach these types of sellers and where to find them you just need to know this is a special category of sellers and must be treated accordingly. The reason is simple because you as a real estate investor need to be keenly aware of the emotions involved.

  First off it is absolutely imperative that in communicating with these types of sellers that your message to them identifies that you provide a service. A service that they would probably be very interested in if they have a property that needs attention and like fast. To some couples the thought of dragging out the sale of their personal residence to split up proceeds over a 4-6 month time period with a Realtor listing is more than they want to even think about. I'm looking for the type of individuals that want to be done with it NOW!

  When sellers involved in a divorce approach you from your direct marketing to them or seeing your advertising elsewhere you must take the "Joe Friday" approach through out the entire transaction. This means the facts and just the facts. Most of the time my experience is with sellers motivated by divorce to sell are congenial and both will work diligently with you to a solution for their "problem". That problem is the personal residence they jointly called home, but now no one person can afford the payments and in more cases than not the payments are currently behind or at the verge of becoming delinquent. Delinquent house payments plus sellers calling you equals "Motivated Sellers"!

  The problem in dealing with sellers currently involved in divorce is knowing the legal implications in buying their property. You certainly don't want for example to buy a property subject to the existing financing and then either one or both of sellers later claim equitable interest causing legal concerns that have potential to get very ugly. That is why you absolutely never, never, never buy or enter into a contract on a property with only one spouse: YOU MUST HAVE FULL DISCLOSURE WITH BOTH SELLERS JOINTLY SIGNING ANY AGREEMENT! At times I've had one of the spouses that unethically tried to sell the property with intentions of garnishing all proceeds leaving the other out in the cold. Remember, be "Joe Friday" keeping to the facts of the situation and stay out of the emotions involved. You are a real estate investor and not a counselor(that is unless you're certified!).

  Hopefully you're ready to key into these types of sellers now because if dealt with correctly it is a recipe for truly great deals... but how do you get them to start calling you? My technique is simple with direct mail and the approach makes all the difference in the world. In my area divorce filings are public notice and printed out in daily papers regularly. What could be an easier list to compile and mail to. Here is an example of my initial mailing letter to the potential sellers:

  Mr. & Mrs. Johnson,

  I am writing to you with the simple fact you may have a property that needs to be sold quickly and/or with creativity depending upon your situation. I am not a Realtor wanting to list your property and please know I want to BUY your house.

  My track record buying houses is proven I have a number of ways I can buy your house that can meet your personal needs. I am an investor and simply can't afford to pay all cash or retail value, however if you have flexibility in either of these then please give me a call. I hope to hear from you soon and don't hesitate to give me a call for any questions or comments.

  John Doe

  Notice in the above listed letter that I don't even mention the word "divorce". People know why you are contacting them and when they call you after reading this letter they know right up front you are an investor and expect to make a profit. You simply don't have time to talk with sellers wanting all cash and retail value and they must be adequately prescreened to a degree.

  Once they call you then you're most applicable buying technique can be evaluated for feasibility whether that is lease options, subject-to's, mortgage wraps, etc… If you're not targeting these types of sellers then you can be missing many, many potential deals in your area. Just keep to the facts of the deal while being sensitive to potential emotional situations and soon you'll be able to "Find All The Motivated Sellers You Can Handle!".

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Scott Rister is an author and "real world" investor just like yourself. Scott started investing in real estate over seven years ago for the sole reason so many do which is to supplement income and eventually replace the corporate job. After learning first hand what "down-sizing" in the corporate world means, Scott focused more intently on shifting from emphasis from buying techniques to finding truly motivated sellers. In less than a year Scott has been involved with over 60 real estate transactions that ended up with a check with his name on it. You can learn more about his program at
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