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How and When to Follow Up with Distressed Sellers

Tracy Royce
4 min read
How and When to Follow Up with Distressed Sellers

Persistence, persistence, persistence. I tell myself and others that this is largely the key to success, in real estate and other worthy endeavors. So why do I let the human side of me creep in to hinder my follow up?

“What if they don’t like me because I keep calling them?”
“What if they’ve already found a solution?”
“They haven’t called/emailed me back ever, they’ve probably moved on”
“I’m pretty busy this week, I can follow up with them next week”

And so it goes, delay after delay until the lead dissolves into the ether of Where Leads Go to Die.

Since this point is so critical, especially when dealing with distressed sellers, I wanted to confront the fears and justifications that decay your very pipeline.

1) How Much is Enough?

I told one of my marketing assistants once “unless they explicitly tell you to put you on the Do Not Call List, we’ll keep in touch with them!” I do not hound people, but I love to remind them I’m still around.

With that, a question I’m often proposed with is, how many times should I try to reach someone if they’re facing foreclosure? The long of the short of it is, their mood changes, so, follow up often during the pre-foreclosure process. Feelings of guilt, denial, anger, resentment, and hostility can often bubble up when owners feel threatened by the fact their home is being taken.

I try to make it a habit to follow up with them 3-7 times until I confirm the house has been sold, one way or another.

2) How to Follow Up?

I posted a blog awhile back about what to ask when you’re speaking with distressed sellers. Part of it was, gathering as much contact information as possible. Phones may be disconnected, emails may bounce, and addresses may change, so gather as many ways to communicate with them as you can.

If they’re not committed to the deal yet, you can also send friendly follow up emails, add them to your newsletter list, door knock them again, or mail them testimonials and a friendly follow up letter.

Ask them how they prefer to communicate. Remember, not much about this process is about you, it’s about them. You’re important to them only because you can solve their problem, so like any good service provider, deliver the goods to them how they prefer. When you do follow up with them, it’s on an invitation basis, so they’re more likely to be receptive.


“Hi John, this is Tracy. We spoke last week about your property on Main street and I had said I would touch base with you this week by phone. I wanted to keep to my promise and see where you are at with making a decision? What questions can I answer to be of help?”

The most important thing to realize is, they are most likely getting inundated with mailers, phone calls, and door knockers just like you. Why the heck would they choose you?

Take a moment and ask yourself, and give yourself an honest answer. (Go ahead, I’ll wait!) Even if you possess a pitch-perfect presentation, winning copy, and brand awareness, if you’re only “touching” your leads once, your success rate plummets, my friend. Often times the magic ingredient, truly, is follow up.

3) Who Else can I Help?

If you’re giving up when a seller tells you they’ve sold their house to someone else, you’re skipping an opportunity. Although it may feel disappointing to know you didn’t seal the deal, I always like to add…

“Well I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me John. I wish all sellers were responsive like you! By the way, although I couldn’t help you with this house, do you know of anyone else that could use my assistance? Please keep my information and think of me as a resource if you know anyone else facing foreclosure. I’ll be around!”

(Feeling daring? Ask them what made them decide to choose Company X over you! Customer feedback can help you improve, so thank them for their honesty and consider the feedback they’ve provided.)

And, continue to follow up with them. Even if it’s just a monthly newsletter, yearly postcard, whatever, the point is to stay in touch. You don’t have to have deep pockets to send an email, postcard, or phone call a few times a year, so the cost issue can be greatly reduced.


People will get perturbed at you in some instances, but that can’t be avoided. They’re often times resentful of their lenders/situation, and tired of being hounded by people wanting to “steal” their home.

But, in my experience 98% of the time people are still courteous. If they already found a solution, you can still follow up with them just to stay top of mind. If they’ve never gotten back in touch with you, just send them a follow up once a year if you know the property is sold. I’ve had people call me a year later after I’ve sent a mailer, on another home they owned. And if you’re too busy to follow up with them, make a priority in your schedule to cultivate these leads. Even if it’s just 30 minutes, cram as much as you can into that time, but by all means, keep up the follow up!

We’ve addressed the push backs, and provided the how to. No more excuses readers, your assignment is to stretch your outreach a little more! It’s not just about your immediate leads, it’s about your persistence, their recognition of your presence, and thus elevating your sphere for future referrals.

How often and how do you follow up with your leads? What’s held you back from following up more?
Photo: Piotr Paw?owski

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.