Mortgage Notes – Getting to Know the Customer’s Needs

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When I first started in the mortgage note buying business almost ten years ago, I made the usual rookie mistakes.  One error was a biggie, and I should have known better after spending years in sales and business development at a Fortune 500 company.  That error was one of the easiest to overcome, as it didn’t require any technical skill or specialized knowledge.  The omission was that I was not making a concerted effort to determine the customers’ needs before offering solutions.

We absolutely cannot be good salespeople or investors unless we understand the needs and wants of our customers.  This applies regardless of the product or service that we’re offering.  Customers have certain needs that must be met, and price and features are often not the highest items on their priority list (even if they say otherwise).

These days, I have much more of a general listening style.  I still have my checklist of information that is needed and will get all of my questions answered before we get off of the phone, but let the customers talk much more extensively about not only the real estate note and the property, but also on their personal and financial circumstances.

By keeping the conversation more open-ended and less of an interrogation, it is more useful and informative for both of us.  Yes, the calls take longer, especially with talk-a-holics who go into way more detail than is needed.  However, I win a lot of note deals even when I don’t offer the highest price just because I was a good listener and had positive rapport with the customers.

The best sales advice that I ever received was that “people buy on emotion and justify with facts.”  Most people don’t need an iPad or a fancy car, but they first see the “cool factor” and then rationalize why they should make the purchase.  The same goes with other sales situations – if the person likes you and trusts you, then you’re much more likely to turn them into a genuine client.

About Author

Alan Noblitt

Alan Noblitt is a nationwide note buyer and a licensed real estate broker in California. His business, Seascape Capital Inc., started in 2002.


  1. Chris Clothier

    Alan –

    Nice article. We use a method called “question based selling” and, to be honest, I had no idea that the concept was as wide spread as it is. I looked it up on Google and found that books had been written about it even though I had never heard of it before. Much of what you described follows this method. Ask questions to get the information you need and allow the prospective seller pull the back the curtain on their own. It’s a great way to place them at ease and build really good rapport. That rapport, in some cases, removes the terms of a deal from the sellers consideration and helps them choose to do business with who they like and trust. Good stuff –

  2. I understand how someone could impulse buy an iPad or even a fancy car and then rationalize it afterwards – but mortgage notes don’t strike me as something one buys on a whim. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen, I just have a hard time picturing a guy waking up in the morning thinking “you know what would really cure that emptiness I’m feeling right now? Some fresh new mortgage notes!”

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