How to Transform Motivated Sellers Into Great Real Estate Deals in 3 Simple Steps


Last week, I was surfing through the BiggerPockets blog, and I realized something strange.

We talk a lot about finding motivated sellers, but has anybody taken the time to actually address what that is exactly?

And for another thing, once you find one, what do you do with them?

How do you know the difference between a lead and a waste of time?

The 3 Steps of Handling Motivated Sellers

For today’s post, I’m going to address these questions in 3 easy steps. I like to keep things as simple as possible, and I’m assuming you’re the same way.

Step 1: Find Out if the Seller is Truly Motivated

So imagine with me for a moment. You’re at your home office, the phone rings, and your Google Voice number pops up on the screen, indicating that a lead from a recent direct mail campaign is calling in.

You answer, “Hello, this is Brett with Simple Wholesaling. How can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m Granny Fanny, and I got your letter asking if I’m a ‘poopy head.’ I have to tell you, when I first saw that, it threw me off, but once I read your nice letter, I realized you were an investor and might be interested in buying my property.”

“Oh, well, it’s great to meet you, Granny! Yeah, that ‘poopy head’ letter is really funny! [This is something we’ve actually done recently — I have to share with you more about it in a future post.] Can you tell me a little bit about your situation with the property?”

Now, if you’re a newbie, you might be really excited at this point because Granny seems really nice and interested in selling her home. But the truth is, her being nice and seeming interested has actually very little to do with determining the quality of this lead.

phone conversation

The key in the term “motivated seller” is motivation! You need to listen for a sign of desperation. Is this person just looking to sell their house at the right price, or are they financially drowning with the additional monthly mortgage payment?

Did they inherit this house from mom or dad passing away, and they just don’t have the time to go through everything and sell the house traditionally? Are they current landlords but have had just too much headache dealing with troublesome tenants and they just want out?

Related: The One That Got Away: The Top 8 Reasons I Lose Out on Real Estate Deals

The key is to look for motivation.

Let’s continue with our story.

“Well, Brett, here’s the truth of it. My husband bought that property before he got sick. His reasoning was to give himself a little project to do in retirement that he might be able to make some money with. Then we found out that he had cancer, and, well, his energy can’t handle the work and stress of it all. So, as it stands, the property is getting in worse and worse shape due to the neglect, and we could really use some extra money to cover some of the medical bills.”

You respond, “Oh, I see. I’m so sorry to hear about your husband. I know that cancer can be a beast to battle with.” So, obviously Granny has some serious motivation here.

It’s now time for step 2.

Step 2: Ask These 3 Questions

Once you have determined the motivation of the seller, then there are three questions that you want to ask.

What are the specs of the property?

In the example of our story, this would go like:

“Granny, let me ask you a few questions about the property. First, what was the full address again? Do you know how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has? Also, what’s the approximate square footage? Is it a ranch style home or a two-story?”

You just want to get all the information about the property itself in this question.

How much work do you think the property needs? How good or bad is the condition of the property?

“Granny, now how much work do you think the property needs? Are we talking new paint and carpet, or is the roof caved in?”

The next question is to get a general idea of the work needed for the property. Now, do not be naive! Many people will tell you that it’s a lot better then it is, and many people will tell you it’s terrible when it’s not actually that bad.

This is to get a general sense; you still need to put in your due diligence.

At what amount would you be comfortable selling me your house today?

“Granny, now that you’ve got a chance to get to know me, at what price would you be willing to sell your house?”

“Well, Brett, I’m thinking $50,000.”

“Oooh! Is there anyway you can come down cheaper so that I can buy your house today?”

“Well, let me think. Well, our medical bills are about $25,000 and we’d like to recoup our losses at least a little bit. So, let’s say $35,000?”

“Sounds great, Granny! Let’s schedule a time for a member of our team to come out and do a walk through, and then we’ll get a purchase contract together!”

Now, here it’s very possible that they won’t give you a straight answer. They may say, “Well, what were you thinking?” And it’s really important that you do all you can to have them give you a price first.

That way you have an idea of what they’re looking to make, and you can determine if their price is realistic for working with an investor.

If it is, it’s always good negotiation to ask that final question: “Is there any way you can bring your price down for me to purchase your house today?” It’s strong psychology that can easily knock $10-$20K off the purchase price.

Now we’re ready for the final step.


Step 3: Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up!

The key in this final step is to follow up. Sometimes sellers aren’t fully motivated enough yet, and they need a little bit more time.

Related: 4 Compelling Reasons to Always Follow Up With Sellers

What we do is put every lead — cold, medium or hot — into a CRM software called HighriseHQ and set reminders to follow up at certain intervals. There have been circumstances where I’ve be in conversation with a seller for a few years before they ended up selling to me.

The key is to follow up and build relationships.

Don’t ever get discouraged if your seller isn’t quite ready. Just continue to touch base and build the relationship, and with time you’ll see a lot of cold leads transform into hot deals.

Thanks so much for spending some time with me this week!

Investors: How do YOU turn motivated sellers into great real estate deals?

Let me know with a comment!

About Author

Brett Snodgrass

Brett Snodgrass is a licensed real estate broker and wholesaler who hails from the Indianapolis metro. His mission in life is to glorify God by serving as many people as he can through his real estate business. He has a pretty active community growing on Facebook and is also the founder of Come check it out now and connect!


  1. Frank Romine

    Good topic. I like the article. Followup is definitely a must, I’m working on improving.

    I think the missing link to closing on the deals with meat on the bone is… RAPPORT. In the BP fileplace under Presentation, check my process….”Real-Line Negotiation”.


  2. Gordon Cuffe

    another good article. I just found out about highrise a few moths ago. I just started using it and I put it on my phone. It works great. Sometimes I don’t. I do know that following up is really a way to get under contract with more homes. I need to call back a seller today in Kansas City.

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