Real Estate Marketing

Game Changer: How to Identify Motivated Customers

Expertise: Real Estate Investing Basics, Personal Development, Flipping Houses, Real Estate Marketing, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management
60 Articles Written

Sometimes it takes a galactic slap in the face to wake you up from repeating stupid mistakes, doesn’t it? Even a seasoned pro can use a reminder every once in awhile to stick to the basics, and use the lesson to get back on track.

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Such was my lesson last week, that I wanted to share with you. New or a veteran, there is one thing in working in real estate investing that will be a constant force in your business, affect your personal life, energy level, and bank account.

That is: identifying who your core customer base is, and working with those that are: motivated.

It’s so simple, isn’t it? Don’t work with people that aren’t really ready, able, and willing to make that decision. Whether it’s making sure a Buyer is pre-qualified before you ever put them in a car to look at homes, or vetting a renter who calls on your investment property, the same rules apply. If the leading questions, responses, and actions are not in correlation with the equivalent of a flashing “I’m ready and motivated” neon sign above their head, they’re NOT an ideal customer. Given, they may be down the road, so massaging the relationship may be all it takes. But if what you’re hearing is a lot of excuses, pushback, and indifference, thank your lucky stars you’ve gotten through one more “NO”, and another “YES” is coming.

I’m Not Taking That as an Answer!

My forte is working with those that are facing foreclosure.

If you want a reason to be motivated, it’s staring them straight in the face. But even then, the attitude can turn from confusion, desperation, and spin into capitulation, with moments of concern in between. My best customers are those that adopt the “can do” attitude, work with us as a team throughout the process, and stick to the plan. We always make ourselves available to answer any concerns, questions, and even venting sessions from time to time – it just comes with the territory!

However, I took on a customer that was motivated at first, then decided they would allow the house to go into foreclosure. I knew I could get activity on the house, would not have to pay any money for any deficiency, and wouldn't have to pay taxes on any losses. I put on my psychologist hat and "talked them down" into a more reasonable game plan…to pursue the short sale. After all, it's of no consequence to them, more work for me, and they retain the upside. So, thinking once I performed my magic, they would come around, I continued to fight a battle I should gracefully departed from.

Ensues the calls, texts, emails from interested parties, my correspondence to the lender to get the foreclosure date pushed back, and ongoing legwork. We get an above full price offer, the lender agrees to extend the foreclosure date, and, the Seller says to cancel and let it go to foreclosure, for the third time.

It blew me away.

It’s such a rarity to have that happen (when everything about the short sale is in favor of the Seller) that I couldn’t believe it. But it was glaring me down: I wasn’t working with a motivated party. I was working with a scared person who had reached out at one point, and no longer cared. I had done everything I said I was going to do, performed my duties, and dismissed his lack of motivation because I had the confidence and ability to make things happen. But….so what? Somewhere along the way, he had fallen off and I ignored his desire to quit. I’m not a quitter, I fight for my customers, and I refused to believe he wouldn’t come back around. My stubbornness, that usually serves me well, had blinded me to this folly. So who’s fault is that? Mine.

Related: What is a Short Sale? The Definitive Guide

Keep it Simple

When I wiped his deal off my white board, cancelled the sale, and let the lender know the Seller no longer wished to pursue the short sale, in some ways, it was relieving. Why would I fight so hard for someone that didn’t care? It’s exhausting, when deal-making should be exhilarating. But behind that, more Sellers that are “in it to win it” were waiting, and it made me appreciate them all the more.

If in doubt, here’s some lead-in questions:

  1. What makes you need to sell/buy? (“Just because” isn’t very confidence-inspiring. Listen for a “need to’s”)
  2. When do you need this by? (A timeline helps determine a level of readiness and need)

You want to make sure they’re ready, willing, and able – that makes for a great customer! (In the dating world, this would be the equivalent of wondering if they’re “into you.” If you’re straining for an answer and chasing them, the answer is, “probably not!” Move on!)

What or who in your life or business are you allowing to slow your progress? If you are new, are you chasing every lead and “trying” to make it a deal, just to say, “I got one on the board!!”? Are you showing Buyers properties that do nothing but complain? If you’re having trouble getting motivated leads and instead latching onto ones that don’t make sense, you need to massively increase your lead generation; that’s the only fix!

Wouldn’t you rather know how to quickly identify the best types of prospects, and work with those that appreciate your efforts? When you align yourself with motivated customers, your business, life, and earning power are elevated.

What do you think?

    Arthur Botting
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Very timely e mail! I have talked to so many people who are in foreclosure and have no hope of changing their situation. It is so frustrating trying to help people save themselves from financial ruin only to have them deny that they are going to be foreclosed on or refuse to accept any help. No investor or realtor wants to lose a deal. And it’s a great feeling knowing you saved some one from financial disaster. But ultimately our success is based on how many houses we buy and sell. If you get hung up trying to help some one who won’t be helped you reduce your chances of being successful AND helping someone else who truly appreciates what you’re doing for them.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Couldn’t have said it better myself!
    Sharon Tzib
    Replied over 6 years ago
    I was given some great advice at a realtor sales training many years ago that has served me well in several different aspects of my life (business and personal). It goes like this: “When someone is buying, they are buying all the way.” Basically what it means is exactly what your post is about. With a truly motivated client, you will not have to remind them three times to submit all their documentation to a lender to get their approval; you will not have to ask them over and over to submit their W-2 or paycheck stubs on the rental app; you will not have to coach them to declutter the house and keep the lawn mowed during the listing period. When people are doing what they’re supposed to do from the beginning, those are the ones you want to work with. Otherwise, you are spinning your wheels.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    From time to time I get customers that have doubts along the way, but mostly because they are frightened and have lingering questions. Typically, once addressed, they become more calm and absolute. Hope this helps!
    Sharon Tzib
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Doubting and questions are completely normal. Total inaction is a sign of an unmotivated person – that was my point. Thanks!
    Martin Cortez
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Most of my business has been in finding, rehabbing and selling (flipping) houses, so needing to buy at the lowest possible price is critical. One question I ask prospects is: “Would you sell for what you owe on the house?”. Usually I am dealing with older homes that need a lot of work, so this question basically tests to see how motivated they are. If they don’t want to walk away at closing with any money and are just looking to unload a problem house, then they are extremely motivated.
    Replied over 6 years ago
    That’s such a great way to get to the point, Martin. Even if offended, it gets the Seller speaking to their level of seriousness. Great input!
    David Trounce
    Replied over 6 years ago
    Agreed: Identifying who your ideal prospect in real estate is, is worth putting time in to. It can pay off in the long run and keep you from chasing every fluffy white rabbit that walks past your shopfront.