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Not So Subtle Clues for Identifying a Motivated Buyer

by Marty Boardman on December 1, 2012 · 8 comments

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I don’t remember much about kindergarten. Okay, I only remember one thing from kindergarten. My class was finger painting one day and to protect our clothes we were all assigned an apron. The teacher, Mrs. Mail, warned us not to clean our hands on them when finished. Instead, we were instructed to use a paper towel, followed by a thorough wash in the sink.

With bright yellow paint I completed my masterpiece. Then in pure defiance I spread my fingers wide, placed my hands on my chest and wiped in a swift, downward motion. When confronted by Mrs. Mail about this blatant insubordination I did what most kindergartners do – plead innocence. That’s when she sent me over to the mirror. As I gazed the refection it became clear that the evidence I left behind was insurmountable. There I stood with two bright yellow hand prints placed squarely on the center of the apron for the whole world to see. No need for a lie detector test or fingerprint analysis, I was guilty.

When covering up a crime it’s unwise to leave behind obvious clues. Likewise, in real estate negotiations it’s best not to let the other party know that you’re really motivated to buy or sell. Homebuyers (and their Realtors) are notorious for providing us investors with not so subtle clues about their interest in our properties. Here are a few of my favorites I’ve received from local buyers’ agents:

  • My buyer loves the house.
  • My buyer already has their boxes packed and is ready to move.
  • My buyer has written numerous offers but keeps losing out to investors.
  • My buyer will purchase the house ‘as-is’ and waive the owner’s disclosures.
  • My buyer has kids and loves the school district.
  • My buyer has kids and the grandparents, who frequently babysit, live right down the street.
  • My buyer requests a quick closing because he’s sick of sleeping on the couch at his parent’s house.

I love hearing this stuff. It’s music to my ears. When a homebuyer or their Realtor reveals this information to me I know I don’t have to budge much on price, closing date, closing costs or repair requests. They’ve put all their cards on the table and I have the leverage in the transaction.

When selling a property be sure to listen for these not so subtle clues. And if you’re in the market to buy be smarter than a kindergartner – do not to let the seller know how you really feel about the house.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandon Turner December 1, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Good stuff Marty. I also love listening for those clues. I suppose that’s why agents don’t generally like buyers and sellers to get together!


Marty Boardman December 6, 2012 at 10:53 am

Brandon, what’s funny it the buyer’s agent (supposedly a trained professional) is the one that usually lets the cat out of the bag. They think they’re doing their buyer a favor.


dennis lanni December 1, 2012 at 6:01 pm

You should do one for sellers clues too.


Marty Boardman December 6, 2012 at 10:54 am

It’s on my to-do list. Thanks Dennis.


Glenn Espinosa December 2, 2012 at 9:47 am

Great post! I can personally attest to the grandparents one. I had a buyer who wanted to purchase my rehab for his daughter and her kids to live in. Come to find out he lived literally right next door! I knew right there that they NEEDED my house let alone want it.

I agree with Dennis, post one for subtle clues on how to identify motivated sellers.


Marty Boardman December 6, 2012 at 10:55 am

Glenn, I had the same thing happen. Buyer’s son and daughter-in-law lived two doors down and they really wanted my house. They ended up paying 8K over appraised value to get it.


Keith December 3, 2012 at 8:48 am

Hi Marty,

It must be a pre-requisite for Kindergarten teacher to have those simple names, mine was “Mrs. Mitten”!

Do agents ever say, “we placed a bid on another property too, so if you accept our price & terms, we can move forward”. Probably not, although I did when I was buying my own place (because it was true), and it worked out pretty well.


Marty Boardman December 6, 2012 at 10:56 am

Never heard that before Keith, but I like it (as a buyer).


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