Overcoming Fear of Talking to Sellers and Their Objections

by | BiggerPockets.com

One of the greatest fears in real estate investing is talking with sellers. Many people work in a cubicle type environment and barely talk to co-workers all day, much less strangers. Unless you’re a very successful sales person, the thought of talking with someone you don’t know, much less asking them for something, can be painful enough to stop your investing career before it’s even begun.

There are a number of places this fear comes from:

  1. lack of practice
  2. lack of confidence
  3. you’re uncertain of what to say

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How Do You Fix Those Fears?

  1. Practice. – Yup, gotta do it. Gotta talk to sellers. Start out with a goal of talking with at least 3 sellers each week. How do you find them? Call for-sale-by-owners. Call sellers who list their homes on Craigslist, Trulia, Zillow, et. al. The purpose at first is not to buy anything (though you just might!), but to learn what sellers say, ask, and want from you. From that information, you will create your process.
  2. Lack of confidence pretty much comes from a lack of practice in talking to sellers which, by the way, creates the fear that you don’t know what they’re going to ask and/or you won’t know the right answers. To overcome this lack of confidence, you must talk to sellers where you will learn how to answer their questions.
  3. If you’re uncertain what to say, you haven’t talked to nearly enough sellers. Refer to numbers 1 and 2 above. Before picking up the phone, have a list of questions you will ask the seller and a list of answers you will give to their questions. Once you’ve talked to at least 3 sellers a week every week for several months, you’ll realize that they all ask pretty much the same things and that being able to confidently talk to sellers is easier than you expect.

Some Universal Truths About Dealing With the Public:

  • We are ALL in sales.
  • Gaining a genuine connection with a customer is a MUST.
  • The customer has intelligence and doesn’t need to agree with you 100 percent of the time.
  • They must trust that you have a well designed solution to solve their problem.
  • Your confidence in what you do, along with your human touch and presence, is the most powerful tool you can have in overcoming objections.
  • True success takes practice, patience, tolerance, and a sincere desire to help others.

Spend Time With Your Customer.

As investors, most of us offer some very creative solutions to our clients. It’s important to spend the necessary time to make sure that they understand what you’re offering and why. This time is where you make your money. These are the minutes and hours that are the most vital to the success of your buying business.

Oftentimes, we move too fast. Either we’re nervous and too anxious to get away from the conversation or, because we know what we’re talking about, we expect the seller to understand as well. Remember, most people sell a home only 2-3 times in their lives, so they truly are seeking guidance in a process that most don’t understand and are intimidated by. Slow down in this part of your buying process. Make them feel comfortable and confident in your skills and ability. Treat them with the respect they deserve and by recognizing the importance they are to you and your business.

Related: How to Negotiate: 7 Real Estate Negotiation Tips

Don’t be Afraid if you Don’t Know the Answers!!

If you don’t have an answer, say so! “I’m really not sure on that. Let me find out and I’ll call you back.” “I haven’t been asked that before. Let me do some research and I’ll get right back to you with the answer!”

Don’t you respect that from others? We can’t really know it all, and I doubt that most people expect that of us. I used those answers A LOT when I was first starting out. I let clients know that I am always happy to research for them – and I am! Researching the answers to their questions is how I learn 90 percent of my business. Truly. For 10 years, we have focused on structuring our companies to meet the needs of our local population. We wouldn’t know what those needs are if we didn’t listen to their questions and concerns.

Be thrilled by their questions, especially the ones you don’t know the answers to. That’s where you learn; that’s where you grow. And, a year from now, you’re going to know a whole lot more about this business than you do right now because you took the time to learn the answers to all those questions. That’s exactly how you become the expert. No one is born an expert.

Related: 7 Things That Make You Look Ugly as a Real Estate Investor

Don’t Leave Them.

Let them know that, even if they can’t accept the offer you’re making, you are available to answer other questions they may have as they go through the selling process. Remember, you’re not just speaking to that one client, but they can refer you to their friends, family, and co-workers if you make a positive connection.

A lot of potential clients have called us back months (even years) after our initial negotiations to see if our offer still stands. Others, who didn’t take our offer, have sent us referrals that turned into great deals for us.

Take your time with your client because this is where the trust is gained and the money is made. You spend your money, time, and energy to find the customer, don’t waste it by rushing through the most important part of the deal – negotiating. Every customer DESERVES the time and attention needed to understand exactly what you can offer them and what the consequences/benefits are in each offer you present.

Finally, and I believe the most important part in overcoming fear when dealing with sellers is to realize:
It’s not about you; it’s about them.

When you absolutely recognize this, you will start focusing on your seller –

  • What do they want?
  • What do they need?
  • What are their fears?
  • What are their concerns?

When you reach their core, you begin not only creating a way to meet their need, but your conversation revolves around solving their need and they begin to understand that you are truly offering a solution. Once your thoughts become about how you can solve their problems instead of your own, a whole new level of success opens in your investing career.


Photo: Loretta Prencipe

About Author

karen rittenhouse

Karen Rittenhouse has been investing in real estate full time since January 2005. In that time, she has purchased hundreds of single family properties, opened a full-service real estate company, a property management company, a coaching/training business, and written three books on real estate.


    • karen rittenhouse

      Congratulations, Mark! Don’t give up. Keep talking, answering their questions, and being helpful.

      Most sellers don’t start out motivated, they become motivated over time when the market begins to beat them up by taking longer than they expect, arguing with their asking price, pointing out all the flaws in the property.

      Truly, very few purchases are made with the first conversation. Be patient, be helpful, be available.

      Thanks for your comment and, please, keep us posted on your progress.

      Welcome to real estate investing!

  1. Great points Karen.

    I always tell people to just go ahead and talk to people when they call, even if they are afraid. First of all it’s easier on the phone than in person. Secondly, you are going to make some mistakes. Just get them over with and move on. And like you said, it just takes practice.

    It’s amazing to me how many people send out a boatload of direct mail pieces, and then don’t answer their phone when the calls start coming in.

    This is a people business. Real estate investors really aren’t in the house business they are in the “problem solving business”.


    • karen rittenhouse

      Absolutely, Sharon, and we can’t solve their problem unless we talk to them and find out what it is!

      Marketing is too expensive to waste. When the phone rings, answer, and be prepared with pen and paper to make notes on what they need, what they have, and what you’re going to find out before you call them back.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  2. Glenn Schworm

    Good post Karen,

    I grew up the baby of 4 boys so I think sales came naturally as a survival mechanism.
    I especially like your paragraph about telling people when you simply don’t know. That is such a key point that rookies should learn. We all respect people who say, “I don’t know, but I will find out” Most people can smell BS a mile away so being totally honest is refreshing. Thanks for the post.


    • karen rittenhouse

      Hi, Glenn.

      Yeah, I find most newbies paralyzed by the fact that they “don’t know enough.” None of us knows it all and each customer is different so, “I don’t know the answer to that” is a perfectly acceptable and well used answer!

      Being confident to admit you don’t know, but can find out, breaks down a lot of fear.

      Thank you for commenting.

  3. Hi Karen,

    Love this article! Selling/Closing is as important as Marketing or Promotion or Negotiation.

    I learned how to sell for Tom Hopkins – “How to Master the Art of Selling.”

    Be prepared to STUDY handling seller’s and buyer’s objections and using tie towns to get the order.

    Sharpen the saw!

    Best Wishes,


  4. Great post Karen –

    I love the Practice part and how you throw in there you just might. Also don’t be afraid if you don’t know the answer and just be honest and say so. I remember early on in my career in the flooring business I gave an answer on a flooring question that I really did not know and needless to say I was wrong and lost the sale. I never forgot it. Just be honest and let them know you will get the answer.
    Excellent, Excellent!!!!

  5. Hi Karen,
    Not so long time ago I’ve bought your three The Essential Handbooks. Currently I am reading The Essential Handbook for Landlords (almost done) and I am enjoying it. I started investing in RE in summer 2012 and I regret that I did not read this book before I bought my first rental property. Now I see what mistakes I have made since that time.
    Thank you for sharing this valuable information with us newbies.

    • Thank you so much, Vladimir. You’re exactly the reason I wrote the books, and you don’t know what it means to me to hear your positive words.

      Thank you for reading them and thank you for taking the time to let me know that they were of benefit to you and your investing.

      Here’s to your continued and huge success!

  6. Melodee Lucido on

    We can always count on you for the truth and delivered with ease and expertise : >
    This is so great that some newer investors might miss the profundity of your article.

    I like the part about needing to talk to more sellers to be comfortable talking with sellers : > The more sellers I talk to the better investor I am. Funny how that works.

    Thank you Karen for always delivering top quality info and encouragement !

  7. It is the first thing I tell a newbie, talk to people no matter what or save yourself a lot of time and quit now. I started real estate investing with my older brother just after I turned 16 and I had a hard time even passing for 16. The thought of talking to owners was a horrible one, rather fight a bear. But my motive was a new thing called the Corvette. I would picture me and my girlfriend on a date in that new Corvette as I knocked on a sellers door.

    My first door knock was a seller who just laughed and said why are your really here? That sort of stunned me but I said I’m here because you asked me to. Didn’t you put an ad in the paper, and don’t you want to sell this property? Well I am here to buy it if your willing to sell it at a fair price. Your ad said you wanted $9,750 but you know that is too high, how much will you really take? ( I was about ready to wet my pants, I know my voice was high and strained. But I do miss those prices, It would sell for $450k today). Well we actually put a deal together over the next month and my brother and I cleared a cool $350, but it reinforced and cleared up what an aunt of mine would often say ” ask and you may receive, don’t ask and get what you asked for”.

  8. Karen

    No didn’t get the Corvette. My girlfriend suggested we get that new thing called the 57 Chevy convertible in case down the road we needed room for a passenger or two. I miss that car. And before you ask no we didn’t get married, she found someone new during my freshman year of college but then I met my new girl at that same college and we celebrated our 53rd Anniversary in March. The old girlfriend showed up on our front porch just after my first son was born and declared she had made a terrible terrible mistake and wanted to resume our relationship as friends. My wife suggested to her that it would be a very bad idea but thanked her for making me available back then.

  9. Cameron Terry

    This was such a great read! I’ve sent out hundreds of letters within the last two months and have actually been getting a pretty decent response from them. I’ve been struggling so hard with talking with sellers which is frustrating. This is extremely helpful and will help me dealing with sellers in the future. Thank you so much!


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