Episode #16 – Propstream – A Breakdown of the Program
Welcome to EarlToms podcast today we’re going to go over a service that I use that that I think a lot of people in this in this industry use called Propstream. We’re going to kind of go over some of the pros and cons of of the service and hopefully give you some insight into some things that that you weren’t aware of that are happening. Because honestly, I don’t typically do service podcast, but it had it had gotten to the point with with propstream that I think a lot of wholesalers could benefit with some of this knowledge. So I decided to do it. I don’t there’s not a you know, an affiliate link or anything like that associated with it. It’s just to try to help give you some insight save you some money. Because actually yesterday or Monday when I sent out my mail list, I wound up saving $500 because of Propstream data. So later on in the episode we’ll we’ll get to that and I’ll explain how how that happened. But first, basically, what prop stream is everybody understands it’s a kind of a, an overall property information software program. You know, you get courthouse records, you’ve got a lot of niche list on there, you can find out the physical information of the of the property, the weather, it’s got a mortgage on it, how much the mortgage, you know, balance is, you’ve got comparables on there. You know, now they’ve actually added some different, some different features to where they’re trying to do list grow. And those kind of things, which is an upsell that that all of these companies wind up doing. But what I found with, say the list growth and things like that, portions of that list grow, wouldn’t even be needed if propstream would actually give accurate data. And I’ll explain what I mean by that in a little while as well. But basically how prop stream gets its data is the same way that Zillow, the MLS, all these different different companies get them it’s a they all buy the information from the courthouse, some will buy more information, the others, list source core logic, they all get the same information. Some just pay for more information from the courthouse, and it comes from what’s what’s called as an XLS feed. It’s basically a spreadsheet because that whenever you download your information, you always get it on a spreadsheet with the courthouse sends it out in the same way. So all of these programs basically just develop the software to be able to put it in a, in a visual format for everyone to filter it out to get, you know, hey, we’ve got a we’ve got this square footage. This is how many bedrooms, bathrooms, things like that. But it all comes from a courthouse data feed that they’re paying for, which is basically the same feed title agents are getting things from some of these companies actually will pay for the data feed from from title companies instead of the courthouse. So it’s important to know where your information is actually coming from and I’ve said it before that Depending on how often your courthouse updates and sends out new information on their feed is going to depend on how accurate your data is. Now, one thing that I never do is pull lists that are that have pre foreclosures, foreclosures or auctions in them, because that information is going to be stale. Because one reason if you look at a pre foreclosure list, and then you’re sending out these, these mailers, or trying to skip trace them to get in contact with them, depending on where you are, by the time you get to them, it’s already too late because the courthouse may send out their information once a month, or they may send it out once a week. Very, very few courthouses send out information on a daily basis. So by the time you get to, especially in my market, because by the time you get to Pre foreclosure lead, they’ve already got a court date set up in a, you know, foreclosure date set, it’s probably a week away, you’re there, your your timeframe is just so limited that it gets so hard to do anything. And by the time they get to that point attorneys are going to be difficult to try to help you and get the purchase the property because they’re going to have to reduce all their fees and gonna do all this other work. So by the time you can even purchase that property and my market anyway. You add those attorney fees on top of it, and it’s not a deal. One another reason that I don’t put foreclosures home my list because every foreclosure has to be publicly marketed. So there’s no reason for me to be sitting there sending a mailer to a bank because all I have to do is go to the MLS or Zillow, or auction calm and there is the information which is another reason I don’t do auction list either because It’s gonna be online for everyone to see in public view. So you’re wasting money if if you send them to, to those lists.
Propstream is a little bit different because they have these niche lists that you know, we’re kind of quick list I call them. And then they actually let you go through and filter more and get more specific of what you’re looking for, you know, values, estimated, how many bedrooms bathrooms that you want to include on it, things like that. Do you want to be individuals that you’re that you’re filtering to or corporates both? Do you want it to be on the market? Do you want it to be off the market? One thing that you find though with with propstream, is it’s it’s better to completely ignore the list. Because once you go on a quick list, and you start filtering things down, you’re actually confusing and complicating That program because all these quick list, they’ll have a wants to feed comes in. They’ll have it in a separate database, so to speak with all of this information, so now you’re actually having to not search one list, but say 2 lists. So you’re not going to get as accurate as of information. If you try to filter the quick list that they offer. You can the way always do it. And it’s going to be different for everyone. As I as I only do a couple of lists, I will do a vacant list.
Rarely do I do a tax list out of Propstream. And I’ll explain why in a little while.
Bankruptcy, divorce, things like that. Because if you get if you get those those lists, then you try to stack them. I actually use a yellow letter HQ. There’s There’s a blog on the site about the reasons that that I prefer to use them that you can check out at a later time. But, but I go through explaining the different services that they offer, the good, the bad, the ugly, and why actually prefer using them. But let’s say that I get a list of vacant plus bankruptcies. And I’m going to stack those two I can do those in the in the yellow letter, I can go in and, you know, say I only want to use to list how many how many leads Do I have with that are showing up together on both of these lists. So I truncate the list, and then I send, send it to them because those are more, we’ll call it desperate sellers than just your vacant because somebody may have a vacant house that’s just sitting there, and they’re they’re not in any trouble but you add a distress factor to it.
Divorce bankruptcy, something of that nature. And you’re going to find out, you’re going to find more people willing to sell and ready to sell, because they’ve had a hardship in their life. And now they’re trying to just move forward.
But what I do with mine, the filters that I use, and to make these are very important. I would suggest everyone go through and figure out your own filter how you want to do it. But the filters I use, I use a single SFR that’s, that’s in there. And then I actually go over and type click on residential right next to it because I’m out old townhouses, condos, vacant land, things like that. So I do the SFR plus residential as far as my filter, and then I actually use the off market because I can go through and find anything on market, you know for free. My value range I always do from zero to $200,000 or $250,000.
Like I said earlier, I exclude the foreclosures in my list because that’s wasted money. There’ll be on Zillow auction and MLS, then I always go in with the last sale date. So I’ll go back to say 1965 – 1970. Some some rains like that, but then I would this be in July of 2020. Then I’ll end my sale dates at 2017 or 2018. Because if somebody basically bought the house this year, or last year, you’re probably not going to get a good deal on it. They paid too much. They got mortgage on it. They hadn’t had any time to get any equity in it. Things like that. So always, two or three years is where from today is where I cut off my my last sale day for that. Then I’ll go through most times I use an equity percentage of 50 to 100%. Because propstream is fairly decent on knowing the the balance of a mortgage, whether they have one or not.
So, for example, the list and this is where I’ll tell you how I save money yesterday, or Monday, I’m sorry. But I went in and I did, I did my list. I did a vacant list and I did a tax list. One problem that propstream has, and it annoys me to know when you go in and you say I want a property with a tax lien. You click on that button, and it’ll give you people that haven’t paid their taxes, the tax delinquents, but what it also does, and it goes unrecognized from most hosts Which is that they’ll have if the tenant say got somebody living in the house, if they’ve got if they didn’t pay their their taxes because that was their place of residence. They have the IRS goes on there because you know, every time you file your taxes, where do you live? So now, the lane, even though it’s not technically against the property, still list that property because that was the address that the tenant used. So when you use these tax filters, the quick list the tax delinquent, or it’s got a tax lien on it. When you use those filters, own prop string, you are getting countless leads or results that have absolutely nothing to do with the owner.
One other thing about propstream is when you go in and you put your your Date specific. So let’s say July 15 of 1965 to July 15 of 2018. If you scroll over in your results to see sale date, last sale date, it’ll be included. You scroll through all of those and you will see last sale in 2019. Last sale date 2020. You will, for whatever reason, they include them as you go. So you sit there and you have to manually scrub your entire list if you use a sales date, or if you mark tax, delinquent or tax lien, they’re gonna include anybody that didn’t pay the IRS or if they got sued and didn’t pay it. Let’s say that somebody didn’t pay Capital One, but you’re marking it as a lien. They, propstream does not filter out the name, owner of the actual lien against the name again of the property owner. So you’ll sit there and you’ll scroll down in your results. And you’ll click on the lien tab. And it’ll be someone that has no affiliation whatsoever to the owner of the property. But you’re they’re giving you those those results.
So Monday when I was pulling my list with the filters that I just told you, I went through, and I check to see how many were actual tax liens associated with the owner. And I went through to filter out the dates from 2019 and 2020. I had about 7,000 results when it first showed up. Then I went and once I filtered them I had over 1,000 entries. They are manually deleted, because they did not filter them the correct way like I was asking. So another problem that actually showed up afterwards is when you go and upload your list, all of these different mail providers will say do you want me to delete duplicate records, there was another 300 that got deleted as a duplicate record, so propstream gives you the same records because you can only get 10,000 a month with $100 plan, but you can export 100,000 every month. So you have to be very careful. I saved over $500 on Monday when I sent this out, even though it took me about three hours to manually scrub this this amount of data, 7,000 results, which if you do that, I’m going to buy the top, if you wanted to pay a VA to do it, that’s, that’s completely your perogative, you’re going to save a lot of money. Because if, if you can say $500 on every single mailer, because they’re giving you results that are going to be worthless, in the end, to be honest with you. It makes 100% sense to have someone scrub it for you, or for you to do it yourself. Because if you say $500 a month with your mailers, that’s $6,000 a year. That’s a lot of money.
It’s frustrating that that all of these data providers do this. That’s why I think in a lot of ways, they all offer these lists, then upsells for everybody, instead of actually just giving people accurate data, no duplicates.
If we asked for a tax lien on the property for the owner, give us those don’t give us tax liens because some, the tenant didn’t pay the IRS. But they don’t filter that out. So that in essence makes them more money, or give somebody the reason to upgrade and pay them more money for their additional services.
What they actually did recently, too, is they came out with an app. Now the app is decent. But when you’re at a property, and you’re negotiating with the seller to be able to have that in an app, it can be beneficial. Because when a seller says hey, this is what I need for a property, it gives you that time to pause, collect your thoughts, look at something make them think oh, I’ve got something on my phone that I Check any information, things like that. And then, you know, if you come back and say, Well, I can only give you x amount, they actually think that you’re looking at something that is factual. And a lot of times you’re able to, to get a better deal when you just take that pause because it’s like you’re investigating and you’re, you’re gaining knowledge. And it’s something that they don’t want you to do. Before they came out with the app, I would always just pull up Zillow real quick, when they’re out. Just to give that pause because you give you given an opportunity to, to kind of make them think about what they’ve what they’ve said. And you’re over there making facial expressions, frowns, things like that. So in their mind, they go, Oh, that’s not good. That’s not good. He’s, you know, he can’t give me what I need, but I need to sell his house. So it does have its advantages of being able to have an app that’s out there to give you some information.
Another another con of Propstream are their comps. You can’t really blame them but at the same time you can. If you don’t filter when you go and click on the comparable and nearby listing tab, you get a choice of public record MLS or both.
Well, me as an old appraiser, this is something that frustrates me more than it does a lot of a lot of other people. But I’m going to give you an example of why their comparables are terrible. So you never ever trust propstream comps. Go to Zillow, type your address in go and look and see what’s sold in the last six months is possible. Look at to map the map, then you’ll have these results off to the right of you, that is going to show you a picture of the house give you a little bit square footage, bedroom bath, what it sold for, you’re gonna have basic information on the right side to be able to look at and comparison of proximity to your house. So it helps you in that aspect of it because it’s more visual, and it’ll let you compare faster and more accurate.
The example that that I’m going to give, I actually purchased a house, we’ve just finished the renovation on it this week. I purchased this house for $40,500. And it’s on a street that is gonna wind up being a rental house for me. needed minimal work, it was already in pretty, pretty good condition. I’ve spent about $6,000 on the renovation. So right now I’m $47,000 In the house by the time you consider closing cost in it a little bit over $47,000. But this house, they have an estimated value of $49,000. It’s a two bedroom one bath. They gave me comps on it and I’m looking at it right now. What they have given me for comparables are five houses. I’ve got a $4,000 house, a $13,000, another $13,000, which is actually the same house. I’ve got a $30,000 sale and I’ve got a $10,000 sale.
Now, you think that’s not a problem?
Well, it is because mine in a lot of ways was in better condition than any of these houses. So propstream can’t take that into account. But where it really bothers me is there’s a house on the same street. This the house I bought has a mailbox number 603. There was a house that sold at 631. So we’re talking between five and 10 houses down the street, not far at all, a two bedroom as well.
The house down the street sold for $75,550. And it was similar condition of mine. But propstream did not give me that house as a comp. It’s on the same street, same number of bedrooms, same condition, or very similar condition because if I only have to put $6,000 in to do a renovation, it’s pretty well ready to go. But for the house down the street, that’s at 631 propstream gave me 11 comps and gave the value of the house down the street. $70,972 so there is a $30,000 difference in a five to 10 house away scenario. But yet on my house, they didn’t think that this recent sale in February was a comp for my house, even though it’s similar in size, same number of bedrooms and bathrooms, and on the same street.
So what they did on the house on 631 is they have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 of the 11 comps are actually in a completely different zip code and city, which are not comparable at all. And they’ve got on there. Some of these sales $2.5 million $1.865 million $7.5 million, because a lot of hedge funds, bought these houses and put all their purchases on one deed. So they include Those comps instead of realizing something funny is going on. That’s not actually a comp. Because when you look at it, it says average sales price $1,096,000 average price per foot, $1,019. To go over to the one that I bought, the average sales price is $14,030. The average price per foot is $20. So by the time if you were to take out the million dollar sales and the sales that didn’t, that didn’t actually that aren’t in the same zip code and city.
They don’t even have any of the of the same comps for this house, except for one. They’ve got one that’s got a mailbox number of 609 which would be two houses away from me. That’s sold for the $4,000. But I’ve seen this house, boards on the windows, that somebody is in the process of renovating it right now. But it’s gonna be a $40,000 to $50,000 renovation. So value for value by the time you bought and renovate it, you’re still at it basically the same outcome because this is also a two bedroom. But besides that one house, there is not a single comparable between the one on 631 and the one that I bought at 603 on the exact same street that they used for each other, even though they’re similar. All things considered.
So I would actually tell everyone, do not use propstream comps. Don’t look at the value, the rent estimate anything that they have to do with with value. move past it, go to Zillow, look at it on the map with the pictures on the right side of it. You’ll be able to figure things out a lot faster, and you’ll be a lot more accurate doing that.
But as far as, as far as propstream goes, the information, the physical information is probably better than most of your other providers. And that is really the only reason that it’s worth paying for. Because you don’t have to actually pay for, you know, the downloads and things like that. But if you’re not paying attention to what you are downloading and scrubbing it, by the time you go and mail these things out, you’re wasting like, like I would have over $500 every single time you send a mail piece out, and that adds up at the end of the year. So you need to make sure that you’re scrubbing your list and making sure that the information is actually accurate to be able to save money. Maximum your dollars, get the right kind of leads. Don’t just go and hit a quick list button. Okay, I’ve got 10,000 leads, let me go mail it, because what’s going to happen is you’re going to get a lot of return mail, that’s an on average, you get more return mail using propstream, then you do any other list provider. It’s frustrating, but that’s one reason I like the yellow letter HQ. Because I can take my little scanner, and I hit that barcode. And from that point on, it’s just a steady progress, that as I go, the return mail pieces that I get, start decreasing. So I get to the point to where I’m not wasting money. But it takes effort to be able to get in and minimize your loss on what you’re sending out to be able to maximize your leads, so that you can make money on it. Because the more money you waste, the less money you have to spend in the future. So you’re cost per lead starts increasing. And that’s just not that’s not sustainable for any business regardless of industry. I think propstream is a good program for physical data, mortgage information, liens, things like that. Just be very, very careful of the data you’re actually pulling. Double check it every single time that you use it to make sure you’re not being wasteful. And if you don’t have the time or don’t want to pay someone to scrub the list for you, I would recommend you go sign up for the yellow letter HQ, the organizer and the return mail aspect of it and pay the $150 a month. I would rather pay $150 a month then have to send them waste another $500 or more sending out faulty data and watch all those return cards keep pouring in so that I can actually start honing in on getting the best leads possible and and getting in touch with the people that I’m trying to get in touch with instead of wasting money.
Like I said, there’s a there’s a blog entry home on EarlToms.com about the the yellow letter HQ, feel free to read over it, look at it and see if it’s something that you want to incorporate into your business. Personally, it saves me money every month, but it saves me money to ways because I can never mail a return card again. But at the same time, I have to go through and manually filter out the data the propstream gives or I’m just gonna waste a lot of money every year.
You may you may actually just want To find another place to get your data, but because they have so many niche lists and ways to filter, and it’s kind of a necessary evil, because even if you go to listsource, you can’t get that type of information. So you’re you’re basically just throwing a lot of things against the wall to see if they stick. I know there’s a lot of these others that are coming out with these new programs and things like that.
Do your diligence before you ever spend money on any of them because a lot of these are simply just gurus trying to sell something. I mean, there’s one group every time somebody asks where do you get your your list information or where you skip trace what company used to skip trace, he literally does not miss an opportunity to say sign up for this sign up for this, sign up for this, for this. Whether it’s any good or not, I have no idea but I can scroll on my facebook feed and the first comment every single time after someone is asking about a company or provider, use this, use this, use this. All that’s doing is enriching him now whether it’s actually good information or not, I have no idea but he is a guru. He does coaching, things like that. So it does make me a little skeptical. I don’t know him personally, just a part of the group. I’m not gonna name him. If you’re a part of the group, you probably know exactly what group I’m talking about. Because you just can’t miss it every single time. First comment, go to this.
I’m gonna leave this week’s episode right here.
Make sure you’re going and checking your information, save your money. Figure out where the propstream is a good fit for you. Again, the data, good data, results, filters, things like that. The back end of their program leaves something to be desired because it leaves you a lot of work on your end. That is unnecessary if you’re paying for a service.
I would actually hope in the future, the propstream figures this out and figures a way out to stop it so that the data you you’re getting is actually the data you’re asking for. And you’re not getting countless duplicate records as well, just to add to your number of records that you know that you can have per month, and then make you pay when you go over. Let’s hope that they do that because I like it for the information. I like it for the for the list and the filters, but I don’t like it because of the comps and the extra work that that has to go into it and kind of a recent push towards upselling additional services instead of just saying here, this is what we do, we’re going to do it good. And we’re going to leave it alone.
After that if you’ve got any questions feel free to get in touch with us on EarlToms.com and like I said with that we’re going to leave it here for this week. We’ll be back in a couple of weeks with a with another episode. If you want need any additional information to help your business grow, business tools, things like that, run over EarlToms.com. There are a lot of a lot of just business information, things that you need to do. That’s not trying to sell you something like a Google My Business or an Active Campaign, how to nurture somebody, an email system, those type things you can go do on your own. No one’s making money off of it except for those companies, but it actually helps you in the long run, because it makes you look more professional. A lot of them are free, some of them you actually have to pay for. I think 1,000 contacts with ActiveCampaign is like $10 a month. So it’s cost effective. And it will get you away from MailChimp, give you automations, lets you go in and you know if somebody clicks on a link or you change them to where I’ve, you know it’s closed, but you just stay in touch with them the entire time. By setting up an automation based on what what they do, if they don’t do anything, they just keep getting the same email over and over and over again. If they respond to something, now you branch it off and you send them down a different path to try to get that deal under contract and closed.
But like I said, there’s a there’s a lot of that type of information on EarlToms.com so feel free to check it out.
We’ll see you in a couple of weeks. Thanks for listening!