Navigating The Negotiation - “What’s your budget?”

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Hello everyone. I’ve been posed a question when it comes to buying some property that I imagine I should know the answer to but at the same time want to tread carefully.

Some backstory personally... In the last couple of weeks I’ve finally decided to buy my first investment property. Been scouring the mls. Craigslist. Facebook. Made a few offers. No bites yet. But I ran across an old friend that is looking to sell some property.

A little backstory on the relationship with said friend...

I met this individual at the Apple Store several years ago. Full time job for me at the time. Side passion job for him. We split ways. Every so often running into each other through the years. Never extremely good friends but always cordial and cared for one another’s personal lives. He owned and operated one of Houston’s largest businesses in its respective category. (Not real estate). He has since closed shop and retired.

I ran into him recently and he mentioned he is dealing with selling off the possessions of a very close family members passing, of which some of it is real estate. Mentioned some commercial property in the Midwest and some residential small multi family here in Texas. So I shot him an email saying I’m looking to buy something. He responds, “to give us both a reference point, what’s your budget?” I do have a budget, but I wasn’t ready for this situation.

My question is, how can I try to open this up to more than just one potential property? I’ve already mentioned “I’m open to one, few, or all”. Should I just leave it at that and leave the door open to other deals in the future? I’d really love to put myself in a position to help him unload all the properties if possible. Whether it’s just me, partnering, or finding other buyers.

At this point, I don’t even know how many properties, the condition of them, occupancy rates, nada. But I want to start off the conversation on the right foot.

What are your thoughts?