Not So Subtle Clues for Identifying a Motivated Buyer

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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.

About Author

Marty (G+) is the Chief Financial Officer for Rising Sun Capital Group, LLC, a real estate investment firm based in Gilbert, AZ. His firm purchases homes at the courthouse steps and public REO auctions. They have two exit strategies, either fix and flip or seller financing.


  1. 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.

  2. 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.

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