This transcript How to Connect With a Motivated Seller in 5 Easy Steps was adapted from CREonline’s: Affordable Personal Coaching & Training for Real Estate Investors.
Your 5-Step Seller Phone Survey
Congratulations. A motivated seller has called you and left all of their contact information at the end of your voicemail script. Now what? Now it’s time to freak out.
No, I’m just kidding. I’m going to give you five simple steps to go through on what you do after a motivated seller calls you, and you call them back.
I’m going to give you five specific steps to take to make sure you maximize your experience and find out the level of motivation for that seller. I don’t want you wasting your time with people who really aren’t motivated to sell.
What to Say to the Seller on the Phone
What do you say to the seller who calls you on the phone? Just start asking them some questions. They’re going to ask you, “How does this thing work?”
But you want to get to the point where you are asking them some basic questions because, when you start to ask questions and they answer the questions, the focus of the conversation is on them. Then there’s a motivated seller, and it starts to allow you to build rapport right over the telephone.
The first 30 seconds of the call with the seller are the most important. Be a very good listener. You want to listen to what’s important to them. You want to listen for if they have emotional ties to the property, anxiety about selling.
If they’re worried that they have to clean out the contents, if they’re worried about all the repairs that need to get done. Those are all good things. But emotional ties can be major roadblocks to get over.
Okay, so here it is: The Five-Step Seller Script Survey
1. Gather Information About the Seller
First, part of the call back to this motivated seller is that you want to make sure you get their contact information. I usually do something like this, “Mr. Motivated Seller, I want to thank you for calling me. Just in case we get disconnected today, I want to be sure that I have your contact information. Would you mind providing me with your name, phone number, and e-mail?”
I get that early on in the conversation, and it sets a precedent for them answering my questions and taking control that way. I go on to ask: “Oh, well how did you find me? Did you see a bandit sign? Did you get a yellow letter in the mail? Did you get a postcard?”
2. Gather Information About the House
Once you have the information on how they found you and you have their contact information, just ask them generic questions about the neighborhood.
Ask if the house is vacant, rented, what’s been going on with it the last few months or the last few years. If it is rented, then you have to find out what the rent is and things like that.
You go from getting their contact information, introducing yourself, and then getting some basic information on the property keeps everything flowing pretty well.
Once you have the basic lowdown of the house, you want to ask them:
- What kind of repairs are needed on the house?
- When was the last time the roof was replaced?
- Are there structural issues I need to be aware of?
- Is there a central heat and air?
And as you start to ask these questions, they’re going to realize that, yeah, you’re a pro, you know what you’re doing. You’re not just some scam guy on the street. You legitimately want to know the condition of the house, so you can make them a fair offer.
That’s a very common question people get. They want to know if you’re going to make them a fair offer. You always try to say, “Yes, of course I’m going to make you a fair offer, but I’m also talking to about five or ten other people, and I’m only going to buy one or two houses in the next week or two. I’m looking for the very best deal in this market that I can find. But yes, I will make a fair offer.”
Then I go through some of the basic information on the structure, like when was it built? How many bedrooms does it have? How many square feet does it have?
3. Gauge the Seller’s Motivation
Finally, I get to the point and I ask this question: “Mr. Motivated Seller, it sounds like you’ve got a really nice house here on Main Street. Why are you looking to sell it?”
And then stop – pause, just like I just did. Pause. Don’t say anything. You want to be listening for the reason why they are selling it. If they come back and they say, “Well, I’m not really sure if I’m going to sell or not. It’s going to depend on some different factors.” That means they may not be motivated.
Or if they come back and say, “Well, to be honest with you, my wife and I are getting divorced and have to do something really quick.”
Or, “My wife and I are looking to downsize, or we’re tired of being landlords, or can’t keep up with repairs, too old.” Those are good reasons why you’ll want to continue the conversation.
But if they’re kind of wishy-washy here, then note that you may not be talking to someone who is motivated enough to sell you that house for pennies on the dollar like you need them to.
After I understand the why, I ask a very pointed question right on the telephone. “If you and I can agree on price, how fast would you want to close?” That’s an important question for two reasons.
First, it states to the seller that you’re serious about buying his house. And the response you get back allows you to gauge his level of motivation. For instance, if he says, “Man, I’ll clean the place out and we’ll close in ten days – or five days” then that is a highly motivated seller.
If he comes back to you and says, “Well, I don’t need to do anything for the next two or three months,” then you’re going to note that that person probably isn’t motivated enough for your wholesaling program.
So, I ask the question: “If we agree on price, how fast do you want to close?” Very important question. If there’s no compelling why and no urgency, then they aren’t motivated.
4. Price – “If I Could…”
Next question, “If, Mr. Motivated Seller, I could close when you want,” back up to the previous question, “And then I buy your house as-is–you don’t need to make any repairs, I’m not a Realtor, I’m not going to charge you any commission, I’ll pay your closing costs. Under those conditions, what’s the lowest price that would meet your needs today?”
And you listen and see what they say. So now you know the why they’re selling. Maybe they’re getting divorced, or have to move, or they’re tired landlords, or just getting too old to maintain the property, or maybe they inherited it.
You know how soon they want to close. Then you know the price that they’re looking for. And sometimes people here will push back. They’ll say, “Well, Jim, I’m not really sure what that price would be. What do you have in mind?”
Then what I would say is, “Well, I don’t want to offend you with a really low offer. So, can you give me a ballpark? I don’t want to waste your time. I’ve got more people I can talk to about buying their houses. I’m really looking for the right situation for both myself and the seller. So, with that mind, can you give me an idea what you’re looking to get for the house?”
Then you just stop talking. And it gets a little awkward–the silence, sometimes. They’ll come back and say, “Well, I’m looking for $65,000.” At that point, if you know that’s a good price – if that’s in the right ballpark, you can continue the conversation.
If the house is worth $60,000, and they want $80,000, then you need to tell them right there, “I think you’re asking more than your house is worth. You probably need to talk to a Realtor instead of somebody looking to buy your house, like me,” and let them go. Just cut the bait and move on.
If they absolutely insist on me giving them a price, I always give them this line: “It’s hard for me to give you a price on the phone today because I haven’t even seen the house. I haven’t driven by the house. But I am looking for the best deal available. I have a couple more people to call back.”
I listen again and see what they say. If they say nothing and it’s just dead silent, I’ll throw out a super low price. So, if the house is worth $60,000, I’ll offer them $25,000. Then I listen again. Now, when I listen the second time, when I give them that $25,000 offer on the $60,000 house, they’re going to come back sometimes very offended.
Then, I will say, “Well, that’s the reason I was asking you for a ballpark price because I told you I didn’t want to offend you. If $25,000 is way too low, then give me an idea how much you are looking for.”
5. Schedule the Face-to-Face Meeting
If that number is in line, then we move to step five, which is your face-to-face meeting. If the condition, the location, the price are all in the right ballpark of working for you as a buyer and they are motivated, schedule a time to meet face to face, belly to belly, as I like to say, in the kitchen or living room of their home where you’re going to go out and review it.
You’re going to meet their family and determine your max offer on that house. All of this stuff that I just gave you–these five steps–set up a successful face-to-face meeting.
The final step is you say something like this, “Mr. Seller, it sounds like we’re both in the right ballpark for each other and it might be the type of opportunity I’m looking for. When can we get together?”
If they live outside of the area, you have to wait for them to schedule a time, or maybe someone else in the local area has a key and can meet you and let you in. If they live in the same city as you, you should be able to set up a meeting for the next day or two and go from there.
Additional Talking-to-Seller Tips
I just want to review some tips here on how to get the person to trust you and to make sure that you’re able to screen out those who are motivated and those who are not.
First thing is you have to build rapport quickly. Make it all about them. Just speak conversationally. If you need to get them talking, mention something about the weather or something that’s happening in your local city. Look for their motivation and understand why.
Verify what they’re telling you. While I’m talking to a motivated seller, if they give me their address as 123 Main Street, Sacramento, CA, I’m quickly looking up that house on the Internet either the tax records, or Zillow, or somewhere, so I can verify who owns it.
I can verify the tax assessments, what it previously sold for, how long they’ve owned it, how much equity they might have, how many bedrooms it has, how many bathrooms, the square footage.
All of that’s in front of me while I’m talking to them, and I’m able to verify what they’re telling me.
Number four is super important. You don’t want to waste your time working with people who aren’t motivated and sellers who are hard to work with, even on the phone. If you get somebody who’s really difficult on the phone, you’ve gotta decide: Is making $5,000 or $10,000 on that house worth your time, effort, and energy?
Because it might not be. You may want to let that seller go, and go onto the next one. There are plenty of them out there in every market you need to sell.
So, use the five-step seller script. Introduce yourself, tell them what you do, get their contact information, find out why they’re selling, how fast they need to sell, and the price they’re looking for. Write down that information onto a log as you collect it, set up the meeting, go meet them face to face, shake hands, and buy the house.
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