Cold calling an owner to buy an off market property

29 Replies

So I found an AMAZING property with a dumpy shack on it (it is totally falling apart). I found the owner through the county tax assessor and I want to contact them to see if they’d be willing to sell. How do I approach that conversation?

Hi this is Carmella.   I saw a nice property I believe you might own.  

I am interested in buying it.  It is 123 Elm st 

 Would you consider selling to me please?

@Michael Plante that's it? I wonder if there are behind the scenes factors - maybe some emotional attachement? Family history? Meant to be an heirloom? The house is the original 1957 build and the property is waterfront. So I have to wonder.... why do nothing with it?!

I think Michael is spot on. Hello my name is… Just start a conversation. What’s the worst thing that could happen? What’s the best thing that could happen? I have those discussions with yourself first and be prepared for his answer. Best of luck!

Don't overthink this. It's just another property. Might be a nightmare for them and they can't wait to get rid of it. Maybe they'll just laugh...who cares? It's just a deal. That's how you gotta look at it.

@Carmella Lombardi , instead of asking if they want to sell, ask them what their plans for the property are. As soon as you ask about selling or buying, you create an adversarial relationship with competing interests—buy low, sell high. Phrasing it that way allows you to just start a conversation and uncover their motivation, or lack thereof. Don’t forget to ask if they own any other properties, too!

@Carmella Lombardi be honest, be human, be laid back and let the conversation run it’s natural course. I’ve had some success with making these calls, however it’s a numbers game and 9/10 fail, so prepare yourself for that. I also get them often, and whenever someone has an “angle” like they’re taking a survey or some other contrived bs, I get off the line as quickly as possible. Also have your ducks in a row and be ready to make an offer quickly if they say they’ll entertain one. It’s annoying when someone calls saying they want to buy but never follow up with an offer.

@Carmella Lombardi

We own 87 units and every one has come by cold calling owners.

“Hi I was driving by your house at ... any chance you’d be in the market to sell? I’m a real estate investor and really love what you have there.”

Then listen, take notes and always schedule a followup.

“I understand you need to talk to your wife. Is it ok if I give you a call tomorrow or if you both will be home tonight I can call back?”

It’s easy... just be you. Worst they can say is they aren’t interested in selling. BUT after 20 years I’ve found everyone has a price :)

Love the mindset! Make sure to also not too attached to a property/prospect. There's always another one waiting on you so if this one doesn't work out, you'll be able to find another. As for the note, be genuine and let it be your voice. Doing anything less will feel weird to you and probably not come through well on the other end.

@Steve K.

Per the FTC numbers that are registered in the do not call list can still be contacted for:

“Political calls

Charitable calls

Debt collection calls

Purely informational calls


But these calls can’t also include a sales pitch.”

I’m not sure how OPs pitch fits into any of the above.

@Brent T Howell

Can you let me know where individuals are excluded from this regulation?

Per the FTC:

“The FTC has sued hundreds of companies and people responsible for unwanted calls, and has forced telemarketers making illegal calls to pay more than $290 million dollars in judgments. “

Based on that I would assume that this is not restricted to only registered businesses but I’m not a lawyer so could be wrong. Either way it seems to me like a pretty thin line to say you were calling as an individual not for a business when the purpose of the call is to attempt to conduct business.

@Eric Ashby she’s not telemarketing, robocalling or selling anything. It sounds like she is just an individual calling another individual to ask about buying their property. I don’t think she needs to worry about the Do Not Call list, which is basically never enforced even if she were telemarketing, robocalling, or selling something.

@Steve K.

Agree that it’s not really enforced; disagree that cold calling people to try to buy their property who have taken the time to enroll on the do not call list is not a violation. This does not mean it is not a violation of federal law, just that the risk of getting caught is low, it doesn’t make it right or legal.

@Eric Ashby Having just read through the FTC guidelines, I didn’t see anything specifically preventing a private individual from calling another private individual on the DNC list and offering to buy their property. Realtors like myself would not be able to call a private individual on the DNC list to solicit a listing or sell our services to them, but we can call on behalf of an actual buyer. The stated intention of the DNC list seems to be to prevent aggressive telemarketers, robocallers, and scammers from harassing people. The language in the guidelines is specific to trying to sell people a product or service, so I don’t know that it prevents anyone from trying to purchase (unless the caller is a realtor trying to sell the service of listing their property which is specifically mentioned). Whether or not offering to buy their property is considered “telemarketing” to that person or not is a grey area I suppose, but from reading the guidelines this type of activity does not seem to be what the DNC list was created to prevent. At any rate I think we can agree that the chances of getting in trouble for making a single phone call offering to buy a single property like the OP is talking about here are extremely slim, as are the chances of a suit being pursued against anyone for doing this. Now if someone were to make 1,000’s of such phone calls, like a wholesaler cold-calling a list and pitching people on buying their homes for under market value in a predatory way, without first checking if they’re on the DNC list… probably a better chance of running into trouble in that scenario. Personally I get a lot of these calls, most often from Jr. commercial agents trying to find a multifamily property to purchase for a buyer client. It doesn’t bother me at all and I usually chat them up and see what their buyer is looking for, see if they know of any properties on or off market/coming soon that I may be looking for, or that I have a client looking for etc. It’s just people calling each other putting deals together, which is quite different than the type of telemarketing and robocalling that the DNC was created to prevent IMO.

@Steve K.

Some really good advise here. One thing I always do if I get a no response is to try and keep them on the line by asking them a another question. For example I will ask about the rental market in the area, who do they find is the tenant base. How did the begin investing. People love to talk about themselves. After a few minutes I’ve turned that hard no to a maybe or even a yes. I will take notes and then I will call back and start off by talking about something I learned from previous call. This will separate you from the VAs that call and read from some script. Be personable, genuine, problem solver and honest. I have called people and I keep in contact with them and 2 years later they say “hey, I’m ready to sale.” Relax and breathe, people are people. It’s a funnel, you will get X amount of no’s before you get that yes. Be happy with that no because you are that much closer to a yes.

Call, text, mail, email.   Same message as above.  Don't overthink it.  There are dozens of reasons why people are not dealing with a property and it is never what you think.  If they thought like we do the property would be at its highest and best use.  

@Steve K.

Makes sense that an individual looking for a single house is not the intention of this regulation. It seems that wholesalers and others making volume calls are in violation of this law.

@Eric Ashby

Although avoiding this type of call is exactly why I and many others take the time to register for the do not call list in the first place.

Originally posted by @Eric Ashby :

@Eric Ashby

Although avoiding this type of call is exactly why I and many others take the time to register for the do not call list in the first place.

I agree completely. I don't even answer my phone any more unless it is someone I know. The 'Do Not Call' list doesn't work worth ****

However, the OP, Carmella, was just going to call one person, one time. Nothing wrong with that in my eyes.....