I’m Not Just A Number! The Art of Knowing & Understanding a Seller

by | BiggerPockets.com

The more investors I talk with the more I am convinced that the lost art of conversing and getting to understand a seller and their needs has been replaced with handing over complicated forms and giving low-ball offers.  It seems in this fast-paced, digitalized, G4 world, we have forgotten how to make friends before making the deal.

The first 19 appointments I ever met with sellers and toured their homes took no shorter than 4 hours every time.  Why? I loathed the “closing” point of every sale.  I would keep delaying the “Can I buy your home?” question by continuing to ask more and more questions of the sellers, both business and personal questions.  I ended up buying 11 clean, cash-flowing mobile homes in less than 7 months.  How was I able to buy so many without using cash or credit?

“Whoever controls the questions controls the conversation.” Ask questions and listen for the answers.  These heart to heart “Question and Answer” sessions really opened-up sellers to revealing the real rock bottom prices they will accept, or the least interest rate a seller will collect to carry back financing, if he is willing to sell the home “subject to” the existing mortgage.

Over the next few months I became more and more comfortable, more and more proficient.  I then realized it was taking me more appointments to close the same amount of deals.  In other words I was getting worse at being an investor.  I realized, by trial and error that because I was so comfortable buying, holding and selling homes I was taking my sellers for granted. I was starting to see my sellers as big dollar signs rather than people.  People with problems, dreams, and concerns.

Here is how I started to sabotage my own success:

  1. I started cutting off a seller mid-sentence, talking about trivial objections.  Here is a tip: Count to three in your head after the seller stops talking and then you can begin talking.
  2. I would quickly correct a seller’s wrong statement to show him how much I knew about real estate.  Wait until the seller is finished talking to discuss any wrong information the seller may be holding.  Never argue with the seller.
  3. I would only make one or two offers max. (Instead of my usual four creative offers method.)  I began thinking I knew what was best for the seller.  I began to half-ass my efforts in my day to day investing life.

It did not take long to realize the problem was me.   I now spend less than one hour meeting with most sellers; we talk about family and social events, discuss the seller’s problems, create a few Win-Win solutions, present offers, make slight changes, make a deal, sign paperwork, answer questions and leave.

Bottom line:  Do not became too comfortable and close the door to friendship, cooperation and making Win-Win deals with sellers. Always keep your seller’s MINIMUM goal in mind when you are making offers.  Remember without solving the seller’s problem you will never create a deal.

Happy Investing

–          J. fed

Photo: Jim Legans

About Author

John Fedro

Investing since 2002, John started in real estate accidentally with a 4-bedroom mobile home inside of a pre-existing mobile home park. Over the next 11 months, John added 10 more mobile homes to his cash-flowing portfolio. Since these early years, John has gone on to help 150+ sellers and buyers sell their unwanted mobile homes and obtain a safe and affordable manufactured home of their own. Years later, John keeps to what has been successful—buying, fixing, renting, and reselling affordable housing known as mobile homes. John shares his stories, experiences, lessons, and some of the stories of other successful mobile home investors he helps on his blog and YouTube channeland has written over 300 articles concerning mobile homes and mobile home investing for the BiggerPockets Blog. He has also been a featured podcast guest here and on other prominent real estate podcasts, authored a highly-rated book aimed at increasing the happiness/satisfaction of average real estate investors, and spoken to national and international audiences concerning the opportunities and practicality of successfully investing in mobile homes.


  1. John, great post, specially as it is relevant not only to investors, but to real estate professionals of every level. I have seen more than a handful of real estate agents who, in their ‘need’ to show just how much they know about the industry, would cut off the client and go on (and on and on) without really taking into perspective the needs/wants of those providing us business.

    • Thank you Alex. from time to time i think we all do. I always realize the social mistake i have made too late after the fact. Hahaha, I know the Realtors you mean, it would be wise if someone corrected them before they lose all their business. -John

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