One of the scariest and most dreaded parts of this business for brand new real estate investors is taking phone calls; specifically what to say when a motivated seller calls. Some real estate investors just have the gift of gab and can “wing it,” but others find it more difficult to find the right words.
The first thing every new investor needs to understand is that most of us had the exact same experience. We were terrified to pick up the phone even after we spent a hefty sum of money sending out our first few direct mail campaigns or hammering up dozens of bandit signs. Whatever marketing strategy we have decided on, the end result was to get our phone to ring. We were looking for leads; for motivated sellers which we hoped would end up turning into deals. That always involves taking phone calls and talking to sellers.
Why is it that we can talk all day long to people about nothing in particular, but when we need to have an intelligent conversation about something we are passionate about, we tend to be at a loss for words? The first thing that comes to mind is what do I say to them when they call?
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What Do I Say
Everyone wants to know, “What do I say when ….”
- I answer the phone?
- Someone asks me where I got their name?
- They ask me right off the bat how much I will pay for their house?
- A motivated seller asks why I am sending letters or postcards to them
- I begin to gather property information; how do I start that conversation?
These are just a few of the questions that routinely come up.
Use a “Cheat Sheet”
Starting the conversation seems to be the hard part.
I need to stress that you want to be conversational when you are talking with a motivated seller. Even though I recommend using a form to gather the information, you should never seem like you are working from a script. If you have ever been on the end of the conversation with a newbie investor working from a script or a form, you know just how painful this type of conversation is.
It helps to put the seller at ease if you speak with confidence. Sit up straight, put a smile on your face and act as though you have done this a million times. If you appear confident, they will be OK. In other words they won’t know you are brand spanking new.
What Should I Ask Them?
My goal is always to get them talking about the property and their particular situation.
The first thing you want to do of course is to introduce yourself. Next I ask them to tell me about the property. You want to get them involved in the conversation right from the beginning. As they start telling me about the property, I begin taking notes on my form.
Getting them to start the conversation does two things; it takes you off the hook and you get to find out about their situation and their true motivation. This is the time they are very likely to just tell you exactly why they need to sell NOW. It is your job to jump in with a solution.
Here are some things folks have said to me:
- I have a house I must sell. It needs a lot of work, and I cannot afford to do the repairs. I just want out.
- My dad owed more than 2 years in back taxes when he passed away and I just can’t afford to pay those.
- My aunt was a hoarder and the house must be cleaned out before it can be sold. I just can’t face doing this.
- The year before my mom passed away she went in a nursing home. It was a nice home, but we forgot to shut off the water before winter came and the pipes froze and broke. Now there is a lot of damage.
Can you see how they will just begin to tell you what their motivation is in addition to the cash that they want?
Once they have told you about the property, you can begin to fill in the gaps or the missing information on your form. I also pull up the house on the tax assessor’s site while I am speaking with them. That gives me an idea of what they think the house is worth.
My initial call with the seller is also when I begin to change the “seller’s expectations” about what they will get for the property. I believe it is important to get this conversation going in the right direction right from that first phone call.
How did you get over the fear of taking with sellers when you were brand new?