Do Ask, Do Tell: Your Secret Weapon For Landing the Best Real Estate Deals


Quick quiz: What does your next door neighbor do for a living? Too hard? OK, what is your daughter’s best friend’s father’s job? Any idea?

If you don’t know what they do, how do you expect them to know what you do?

Some of the best deals come seemingly out of nowhere. Someone hears something, thinks of you, and connects two previously unconnected dots, resulting in money in your pocket. But how did they think of you? Because they KNEW you were a real estate investor.

Maybe it came up in conversation, maybe your kid told them, maybe you bought the house next door to them. But they know you “buy houses” and asked if you wanted another one.

The Informer

During the coursework for getting my real estate license, one of the videos was a sort of testimonial from a newly licensed agent—one who didn’t know he wasn’t supposed to sell like crazy.

Related: How to Use Unique Strategies to Find Unexpected Real Estate Deals

He said he wears a name tag, one that identifies him as a real estate agent, everywhere he goes. He works it into every conversation he has, telling people or reminding them that he is a real estate agent, and if they or someone they know are looking for an agent, he would be happy to help them.

He always has business cards in his pocket with every conceivable way to contact him listed on the card. He always answers the phone when it rings.

A really good agent in a typical market may sell 1-2 houses a month. This guy is selling 10-15 houses a month, simply because he tells absolutely everybody what he does. He doesn’t come across as pushy or overly sales-y. He is just helpful.

The moral of this story? Tell everyone what you do. You never know who will know someone who knows someone who is looking to sell.


Lost Opportunity

When we bought our current house, we moved into it because we couldn’t find any other property, and our previous house had sold. This house was a sturdy-but-hideous 2 bedroom former rental property. The siding was ugly, the windows were super old, and the landscaping was overgrown and unsalvageable. The interior housed the most revolting kitchen and bathroom ever built. In other words, it was perfect.

We made friends with some of the neighbors, including the woman who lived in the duplex next door. It somehow came up in conversation that we were looking for rental properties to purchase.

A few months after we moved in, I was driving to my house and passed a For Sale sign in her front yard. What?!? I called her and asked about it. She told me that she had been informed two days before by her landlord, and she thought of me but wasn’t sure if we were still interested in buying rental properties, so she didn’t say anything.

We ended up making an offer on the property, but lost out to someone who could pay cash and close quickly. My neighbor, who didn’t feel the need to tell us, was consequently kicked out by the new landlord (we would have let her stay).

The moral of this story? Remind everyone again what you do. You never know who will know someone who knows someone who is looking to sell.


Silver Lining

Another neighbor is looking to move out of her 3 bedroom house with no yard on the corner of a very busy street. As a forever home, this property isn’t very good. As a rental, this property rocks.

And she doesn’t want to sell it to just anyone. Nope, she wants to sell it to me because she doesn’t want to deal with all the people coming and going through her house. She doesn’t want to deal with the stress of packing up and possibly getting to closing, only to have the deal fall through. She doesn’t want to deal with making all those repairs that have fallen by the wayside during the last 8 years.

Related: Word of Mouth Marketing: The Completely FREE Way to Find Hidden Deals

So she talked to me—about helping her purchase a house and about me buying her house. We discussed generous move-out terms, as-is condition, and only one showing to one buyer.

Why did she approach me? Because she knows that I “buy houses.” And how does she know? Because I have told her, time and again, that I want to buy her house if she ever wants to sell.

The moral of this story? Tell everyone what you do. You never know who will know someone who knows someone who is looking to sell.


Tell, Tell, Tell

So now I challenge you to tell. Figure out a way to casually work it into every conversation. Try not to be overly sales-y, just informative. “Hey, I’m a real estate investor. I buy (insert description here) houses. If you ever hear of anyone who is looking to sell, I’m looking to buy.” Because you just never know who knows someone who knows someone who is looking to sell their house.

Most of the best deals are found “off-market.” In today’s super-hot real estate environment, deals can be hard to find. Bidding wars pop up, and an investor simply cannot compete with a retail buyer because the retail buyer doesn’t have to make a profit when they sell in six months.

The best house to buy is the one that isn’t even for sale.

Have you ever sealed a deal because you told people what you do?

Leave your stories, questions and comments below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy has flipped numerous homes in the past 10 years, one at a time and doing much of the work with her husband. She lives in Longmont, CO, and is always looking for an ugly duckling to turn into a swan.


    • Mindy Jensen

      That is where you are completely wrong, David.
      This house was built from Uglywood that grew in the Ugly Forest in Uglyville, UG. The siding came from Uglytown Junkyard, the windows were manufactured in the Acme Ugly Factory.

      The interior was painted a lovely shade called Ug. The flooring was made of Ugness.

      But it had a new roof and solid walls. Now it’s mine. It was a bit tough to see past so much ugly, but stealing it from the bank made it easier to remodel. A whole LOT easier to remodel.

      Thanks for reading.

  1. Mike J.

    Awesome Read. I agree with you that letting people know about what you do/want will lead to doors opening. Furthermore, it reinforces your psyche of becoming that real estate investor. Thanks for writing this Mindy!

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