Converting Motivated Sellers Throughout the 7 Stages of Grief


When advertising and marketing to sellers in distress, it’s helpful to know what sort of stages of emotions people in foreclosure typically go through. When you’re losing something special, feel trapped, or ashamed, the feelings are much like the stages of grief.

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The 7 Stages of Grief

Shock and denial – “This can’t happen to me” is a common reaction to getting a foreclosure notice. It can be a jarring experience, especially when you have a swarm of people now knocking at your door at all hours and possibly harassing you at home, through mail, and phone calls.

If you’ve reached someone in this stage, expect slammed doors and discourteous responses to your help.

Pain and Guilt- Even if it’s a rental property, the emotional feeling that come with the loss of a home can still be quite harsh. No one feels good about not being able to stay solvent on a major obligation, and can have waves of self-deprecation.

If the sellers are talking to you during this stage, they’re going to want to talk about how they feel ashamed. Let them know this happens to many people from all walks of life, let them talk about their story, and gently guide them towards a solution.

Anger – if you’ve been working in foreclosures, short sales, or pre-foreclosures for any amount of time, this shouldn’t need much explanation. Keep in mind, people are usually upset with their decisions, which gets complicated with a flock of people there to remind them of it almost daily.

If you get someone live or on the phone in this part of the grieving process, you’re not likely to get anywhere. But, be patient and don’t get riled up, either. I’m probably one of the most impatient people I know but even I have empathy and patience with angry sellers.

Depression – Behind anger lurks depression, sadness, and remorse. This can cause homeowners to drop off, shut off their phones, and stop answering their doors. However, some will understanding how they’re feeling and still work through it.

If you’re working with someone that’s reached this point, they may just admit how depressed they are about losing their home (as they’re signing closing docs or a contract). Be sure to listen to them and comfort them with realistic and positive feedback.

Upward Turn – THIS is a critical part of communicating to sellers, through marketing, media, and in person. Look, everyone wants to feel happy. If you’re carrying a weight, there’s nothing like having someone help you carry the load or relieve you of it all together. It’s imperative you let people realize YOU can be that person that can help bring them to the Upward Turn point.

Showing and telling how you can help, how much better they’ll feel once they’re on the path to a solution, and how it will feel to be rid of this problem is a sinker to your hook and line of marketing.

Working through – It feels good to be sifting through a challenge. Just like cleaning out an attic, it can be dirty, frustrating at times, but overall satisfying to be taking charge.

Make sure you communicate frequently with homeowners, preempting them to any hangups that might be coming down the line and being realistic with them throughout. They’re relying on you to be honest, honorable, and to perform.

Related: BP Podcast 019 : Short Sales Tips, Starting Out in Real Estate, & Working w/ Virtual Assistants with Tracy Royce

Acceptance – This goes with no explanation, and is the easiest type of seller to work with. “I’m in foreclosure, I hate that this is happening, but it is what it is and I’m ready to solve the problem.”

A seller may have to go through each one of these phases to reach acceptance, which is why it’s so important for YOU to follow up, dear reader. Remember reading over and over that the magic number for conversion is usually between 5-7 touches? Although each seller is different, is it any coincidence that they are 7 stages of grieving?

Although you think of them as leads, there’s a human attached to the house you’re looking to buy. Empathizing what they’re experiencing and knowing how to best work with their mindset is good for being an effective communicator, and good for business as well.

What do you think? Do you notice these stages with your sellers? At what point do you see sellers respond to your marketing the most?
Photo: Christine ™

About Author

Tracy Royce

Tracy (G+) is an Arizona Short Sale Realtor, Investor, Rehabber, and Foreclosure Expert. She also is an avid blogger, vlogger and consultant on all things Arizona Foreclosures.


  1. Great post Tracy! I don’t really work much with foreclosures, but I know they especially go through those stages. There is a whole lot of psychology that goes along with this business. Some days I’m not sure we get paid enought. LOL.


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