First Real Estate Deal Emotions: Part 1 of 2

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After I had successfully purchased my first mobile home inside a mobile home park I went back to my house, sat down with my girlfriend, and began balling-my-eyes-out crying. I did not know it at the time but the reason for my UNHAPPY mood was a completely necessary part of investing since I planned to make real estate investing my career.

Let me paint the setting for you. It was early 2002, I had less than $500 in my savings and no real-world investing experience. I was burning through my life savings with marketing costs trying to find my first slam-dunk real estate deal. After approximately 90 days of hard work and repeated offers I had no profits to show for it.

One Monday morning I was contacted by a seller of a mobile home inside a park. I was so green at the time I did not even realize the mobile home was located inside a mobile home park. The sellers we’ll call “Sue” was extremely motivated and ready to leave town yesterday. Sue was originally asking over $15,000 for her 1989 beautiful double-wide 4/2 mobile home in a family park – however when I asked her a price she was willing to part with the home for only $8,500.

Whoa!!! I thought at the time; this price was surely a good deal. I was wrong, dead wrong! I was however wise enough to continually ask the seller, “Can you do any better?” and other cliché lines we are taught to use when learning to negotiate. I knew the seller needed to leave town and was desperate to sell. After 36 hours of easy back-and-forth negotiations the price dropped, and dropped, and dropped.

We ended up settling on a purchasing price for the home, including all appliances and central air unit for a total of $3,000, payable as ten monthly payments of $300.00. We closed the same day and later that night I began the water-works.

Here’s why – I knew I had beaten Sue down over price. Don’t get me wrong I was always friendly, polite, and courteous to Sue but I knew she desperately wanted more and I hated to disappoint her. I knew she was in a tight spot and empathized with her feelings the more we got to know each other. The bottom line in my mind at the time was that I knew this seller had no other alternative besides me and I felt I did not treat her fairly over price. The reason for my crying that night was my feeling of shame when I looked at myself in the mirror.  “Is this what real estate investing is?” I asked myself, “Just taking advantage of desperate and fragile sellers?” How could I keep doing this business and live with myself? After all, I was supposed to be helping people right?

At the time I had no idea how much money I could resell this home for. As it turned out the answer is over $41,000 in 10 years.

If after reading this article you feel the same, can sympathize with my first deal, or think me a monster for low-balling the seller to an unfair selling price then wait until my next article. In part 2 of this two-part story I show why this “predilection for price” was necessary. In fact if I had agreed to Sue’s first price of $8,500 there is a great chance you would not be reading this article today.

Invest time in your future daily.
John Fedro

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. Hey John — I know what you went through. It was just after the 1979 (fall) economic downturn. I could’ve bought a duplex for peanuts from a young couple who were behind on their FHA loan. At the last minute I backed away. The feelings you experienced also slammed me. To teach me a lesson, Dad told a buddy of his about the deal. He bought it the following afternoon — for far less than the price that guilted me out of it.

    In other words, me backing out of the deal actually caused the poor sellers more pain. It’s never bothered me since. Great story, John.

  2. Thank you Jeff, Your duplex story is inspiring. I like that since then you seemed to be more in control of your emotions. This is too how I felt, more powerful then before. Perhaps each one of us needs to burn our hand on the iron sorta-speak. Did you grow up in a r/e investment family?


  3. John:

    Thanks for your post. Yup, as much as we say “this is a business and you must treat it as such,” emotions can get the best of the best of us! As a contrast to your story, my husband came home one night and apologized to me for overpaying for a house he’d just purchased. The couple was losing their home and, while my husband was there, the woman got a phone call from her doctor confirming she had cancer. The waterworks were unending.

    He helped them out – truly. I counted on the Universe to pay us back for my husband’s “kindness” since I knew the real estate market wouldn’t.

    Five years later, we still have that property. We’re probably a bit better than break even, but thank goodness we’ve been able to afford it. Many would have been pulled under by such a business blunder!

    It’s a business, but those of us in it also sometimes lead with our hearts!

    Btw, I love your signature.

    • Hi Karen,

      Wow! That certainly is a contrast of a story. As you said it is often times hard for our emotions not to get in the way when WE are the ones sitting with sellers. We are there to solve their problems after all. I am glad to hear that deal didn’t set you back or rather hold you back from further investing. Although I am not certain if you have continued to invest but it sounds like your spirit is alive and well.


  4. Kevin Yeats on

    Watch a few episodes of “Pawn Stars” on the History Channel (hopefully you will witness at least one instance where they don’t ‘win.’) You will learn about negotiating and emotions – on both sides.

  5. Thanks for sharing John. I know there is this misconception in the publc arena where people see investors taking advantage of sellers. I get it but they’re wrong. People forget about risk. As you teased for your next post, you just can’t pay someone more than what their property is worth. It does no good to you or your family to take on someone else’s problems. They eventually become yours.

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