Real Estate Deal Analysis & Advice

3 Ways to Respect Home Sellers While Negotiating Deals

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Houses are just buildings, but homes are personal.

Because of this, our work of buying and selling homes puts us directly in the middle of some of life’s most challenging situations.

Moving is a time of transition, and these transitions can bring promises of joy and hope as people carve out new paths for themselves and their families. If the investor is eager to buy and the homeowner is eager to sell, purchasing an investment property is cause for celebration on both sides!

But what if the investor is eager to buy and the homeowner is not eager to sell, as is often the case with cash purchases? What if this particular time of transition is marked by tragedy or grief? As investors, we still have a beneficial service to offer these sellers, but how do we respect our clients' sensitive needs during hard times?

3 Ways to Respect Home Sellers While Negotiating Deals

1. Listen.

As an investor, you may be used to taking the lead in the conversation, guiding the client to see things from your perspective. However, in times of tragedy and loss, people often need an outlet or someone to listen to their thoughts and struggles.

When meeting with such clients, let them walk you through the property. Stop and listen to them as they tell you the story of how their late father planted those trees or the time their parents finally broke down and installed that dishwasher in the kitchen.

Related: 10 Seller Documents You May Need to Review When Buying a Rental

Give them a space to grieve not only the loss of a loved one, but the loss of the home that houses their memories.

2. Speak gently.

Respond to your clients in a way that helps them feel safe and appreciated. Point out how you understand why their loved one was so proud of the home and that you can understand why such a property would be difficult to let go of. Do this in a way that is authentic and real, not pushy or slick.

Sometimes you will only meet sellers as the result of their loss or unexpected circumstance. Don’t take advantage of such circumstances, but aim to be truly helpful and insightful and potentially provide needed financial relief. You’ll be more successful in business and as a person if you work for others’ benefit, not just yours.

3. Wait for space.

In times of tragedy or loss, people may overshare. A lot. And yet, this is appropriate and expected.

We all want our stories to be heard. When someone is no longer around to share their story, we want to share it for them.

If someone feels they have been wronged, they want others to agree and commiserate in their circumstance. Let them share. Let them vent. Let them process. Let them grieve. Listen long enough, and you will find, in time, they will be ready to listen to you.

Related: 6 Tips for Negotiating Your Maximum Allowable Offer With Sellers

Trying to avoid sensitive topics and get straight to business won’t help them or you. Your reputation for being insensitive will eventually dry up your reference pool—and your karma.

No one is asking you not to do business, just to be more human in the process. You would be surprised the difference it can make!

Approaching clients with the humanity and the respect they deserve will grow not only your business, but also your reputation. When sellers remember you as respectful and kind, others will seek you out in their time of need.

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Investors: Any tips you’d add to this list? Have you been able to help a seller out of a hard situation?

Comment below!

Stuart McArthur is technology specialist with 13 years of experience providing consultation to clients ranging from governmental entities, to corporations, to individual real estate agents and inve...
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    Tom R. Investor from Ridgecrest, CA
    Replied over 2 years ago
    This would have been helpful a couple of weeks ago. A man reached out to me through facebook who’s wife had inherited her mothers house wanting to sell it. I have never had to deal with the death of a close family member because ever since I was a child we lived far away from our family and all my parents and siblings are still alive. I avoided the subject because I didnt know what to say. I probably ruined my chances or making a deal on the house. Its been a week since I made an offer and I havent heard back. I was considering reaching out to them again today but Im thinking I should just wait.
    Tom R. Investor from Ridgecrest, CA
    Replied about 2 years ago
    It worked. I gave them their space and they came back to me and accepted my offer.
    Stuart Mcarthur Specialist from Austin, TX
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Tom, congratulations on a successful negotiation! As John and Diana mentioned, truly listening and treating individuals with respect should be executed not only in business deals, but during all encounters in life.
    John Prucha from Denver, CO
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Excellent insight into providing a listening ear and compassion to someone struggling. Those three skills can be extended to people/sellers going through anything difficult, not just death but other personal struggles that intertwine with transitions.
    Diana Duncan Real Estate Investor from Miami / Fort Lauderdale, FL
    Replied about 2 years ago
    You’re right John, these skills can be used in a plethora of scenarios when negotiating deals. Nice post Stuart.
    Ken Nyczaj Flipper/Rehabber from Annapolis, MD
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Recently my team and I just closed on our first deal. The seller was an absentee homeowner that traveled for work more than he was home. When we talked, I always would just listen and let him open up about what he was going through, selling a house is a big deal whether your home enjoying it or not. Listening is key. It was a great first deal for us, and I thought we were the ones who should be thankful which we were, but after closing I’ll always remember- The seller was just so thankful to be out of the house. We truly solved a problem for him.