Your first time talking to a motivated seller can be nerve-wracking. Here are a few tips on how to approach them, and what to say.
You’re just getting started in real estate investing. You’ve started your company, launched your website, then suddenly… there it is! Your first investment lead!
You get an email alert, or see on your CRM that someone has contacted you and requested an offer, or some more information. If this is your first time, this can be an exciting – but nerve wracking – moment.
If you’re new to this, your mind may be racing with questions like,
- What do I say?
- How should I act?
- Should I be aggressive, or wait for them to ask some questions?
Well, for this article I’ve compiled advice from established investors on how to approach talking to motivated sellers. Whether you’re about to embark on your first (or fifth) property visit, I hope these tips help you feel more prepared, approach the seller more confidently, and give you great success.
#1) Focus on listening to what they need.
Your mind may be spinning with your numbers and margins, tips gurus have taught you, or nervous insecurities, but you can take comfort in this first tip: your main job, is first: to listen to what pains the homeowner has, in order to see if you can solve them.
At the end of the day, this is about making sure that you listen to their needs; what they’re trying to accomplish, and then, if you can solve them, and only then explaining how you can. Andrew, who runs Columbia Cash Home Buyers says, “meeting with the clients is all about rapport and ‘what do they need’. We have to be active listeners and be intentional about understanding their needs.”
Everyone knows the experience of what it was like to talk to someone, only to end up feeling like they didn’t hear a word you said, where the other person is sort of just waiting for us to stop talking, so they can say their piece.
Jacob, the founder of In Home Buyers encourages new investors to, “try to find out what the underlying issue that is making the client sell their property, [then] let the seller know you are there to help them and build a rapport.”
Not sure where to start? Here are a few questions Jacob suggests asking:
- Why are you selling the house?
- What can we do to help?
- What are your goals?
- How fast do you want to sell the house?
So let this first tip put your mind at ease. If you’re not quite sure what to say, or how to start off the conversation, try starting with a question. Then just listen, and ask follow up questions. This is also going to help you learn whether they’re a good fit for you, because not everyone will be.
#2) Be personable and friendly
Listening goes hand-in-hand with being warm, personable, and friendly. In fact, I’d argue that these two factors combined are what leave people with a really good impression of you and your business.
Think about it from their perspective:
They’re often in a tight spot, facing some tough decisions, and feeling potentially vulnerable. If you are able to come in, and listen to them vent about their situation, listen to their struggle, and most importantly: learn what their goals are, then you’ll know if you can help them or not, and they’ll feel heard, rather than feeling like they just received a sales pitch.
And while you’re talking to them, you can incorporate natural ways of just being friendly. It’s not surprising then that when I asked a handful of investors what advice they’d give regarding talking to homeowners for your first time, the majority centered their advice around:
- Making the conversation about the homeowner;
- Being friendly and warm;
- And finding ways to connect with the homeowner on a personal level.
Steve, who runs SOC Industries, suggests “be friendly, find a way to align yourself with them, find out their why, their need and solve it…..when you can.” And Eden, who helps run AsIsHomesDFW encourages other investors to, “be professional, and listen to clients needs. It will help you to close them. Connect to the client on a personal level, show to the client that you take interest in his/her personal life. Find the way that the client will trust you.”
Tyler, owner of Florida Coast Homebuyers says that when it comes to focusing on the homeowners, investors need to “make it about them. Learn about their situation and motivation. Don't just make it about you and that you want to buy their house.” Leonard, who runs ANB Home Buyers agrees: “build rapport with the customer, don’t talk only about the deal. Try to find out how they are doing and why they are selling to help them solve their problems.”
#3) Tell them you may not be the right buyer.
Of course, all this listening to the homeowner will reveal something: whether or not you really can help them, whether or not you should buy from them. This is a really important thing for inexperienced investors to understand, because your tendency may be to just say “yes” to your first couple deals, and close as many as you can.
But the ability to say “no” to a potential client is something everyone in every industry needs. Professional marketing firms fire or turn down clients all the time if they won’t be a good fit for them. Mechanics who lack experience working on certain rare makes or models of cars would do well to refer their clients to more specialized mechanics, better suited to serving them.
So as an investor, you’ve got to listen to the homeowner so you can learn whether they’re really best served by you, or by a real estate agent, or by some other solution they’re not aware of. Part of building long-term trust in your business hinges on the ability to tell certain clients who aren’t a good fit, that you may not be the right buyer.
That’s what Jordan, who runs Southeast Buyers Group, suggests that you say when you first approach the homeowner: “I may or may not be the buyer for you. But after meeting we will uncover everything in hopes to help you move on to your next destination.”
This is a really, really good idea, and a great way to break the ice when you go to meet the homeowner. By saying, “hey, I’m not sure I’ll be the right buyer to help you in your particular situation, but that’s what this conversation is for! We’ll talk, I’ll listen to you, learn more about your goals, and if I can help you – I will. If I can’t, I’ll let you know that so you can better move on to a better solution.”
That kind of approach goes such a long way in building trust with the client before you even broach the topic of home value, an offer number, etc. It tells them a couple things:
- This person is going to listen to me.
- This is a learning/exploratory conversation, not a pressured sales pitch.
- They’re honest, and not going to lie to get my home.
Of course, these three things need to be true about you and your team, but if they are, it’s a great way to communicate with a prospective seller your first time meeting them.
#4) Be yourself (no, seriously)
Yep, it’s cliche. But it’s also true.
Know why? Because you can’t be Grant Cardone. You can’t be that real estate mogul you admire so much. You need to talk like you, laugh like you, find common ground with homeowners on things that you enjoy, because that’s all you can do.
Don’t try and put on an act, or go through a pitch, and come across sounding fake. This has been true for Letron, the founder of Bright Star Home Buyers. He shares the advice that “when meeting with clients for the first time, just be yourself. People do business with people they like.”
So when you’re introducing yourself and building rapport with the homeowner, be yourself. Find common ground on favorite sports teams, similar situations in life, etc.
Putting it all together
If you haven’t noticed already, each of these 4 tips rolls into one another. So if you’re a new investor, and that lead comes in and you set up your first meeting, here’s how other established investors would recommend that you handle things:
- Approach the homeowner with a posture of listening. Remember that this is a time to meet them, and learn if you can help them or not. You can only do that if you’re asking intelligent questions and listening to their answers.
- Be personable and friendly. When you do finally talk and take the floor, don’t make the conversation all about you and how you want to buy their home. That’s obvious, they came to you because you advertise that. Instead focus on building a friendly dialogue with them. Don’t be afraid to get a little personal, in the sense of asking more about their situation.
- Communicate early-on that you’re not sure if you’re the right buyer for them, but that you’re excited to listen and hear more about their story and situation, so you can see if you’re a good fit.
- And finally, in all of this, be yourself.
Hopefully these 4 tips will help take some of the first-time nerves out of you as you go to meet your first few prospective sellers. Oh, and if you want to ask more Pros for advice, check out the community here. Good luck!