Finding Motivated Sellers Calling on Ads

I’ve been running an ad since last Sunday on a house that I am selling. I’ve had a mix of calls between owner occupants and investors. I’m fascinated with the investor calls.

The last guy that called (an investor?) asked two questions. One, where was it located. Two, how long had it been on the market. Didn’t ask the price, didn’t ask about the terms, didn’t attempt to engage me in a conversation that would lead to information that would dictate my motivation level, etc. As he hung up he said he would drive by and call me tomorrow.

Now folks, I know that no participant of this site would do that, would they? This caller is either lying about the fact that he is driving by, or he’s wasting his time, since he knows virtually nothing.

Here are a few ideas about calling an ad. I start by asking about the house. Why? Believe me, I’m not especially interested in glowing descriptions of another 3-bedroom house; but I am interested in establishing rapport with the seller, because later, I may ask more personal questions.

While the seller is talking, I listen. I’m listening for clues regarding motivation. When the description of the house FINALLY stops, I ask questions to determine the condition. Again, I’ll see this anyway if I look at the house, but it helps me to determine a crude estimate of what repairs I might need to do, if any. Again, I’m looking for motivation. Houses that need repair are more difficult to sell, and may help to produce a motivated seller.

At this point, I’ve established at least some rapport. So the more important questions start. What are you asking for the house? How did you determine this price? What kind of loan do you have? When did you put the loan on the house? What is the balance on the loan?

When I ask a question, I shut up and I listen. Something they say may be of interest to me; in which case, I do a little more probing about that. I allow the seller to go where they prefer to go. Then I come back to asking more questions.

The point is, in a relatively brief period of time, I can determine (without looking) whether anything is going to be possible. I DON’T get in my car to go look unless there is something in my conversation with the seller that makes me feel I should. Are you kidding?? Driving out to look at every property takes time, time that I could have easily spent looking for a motivated seller.

What does a motivated seller sound like?  One seller told me they had tried unsuccessfully to sell the house for three years. They told me about how they had rented it to cover the mortgage payment, and how they had to evict the tenant, and the lousy shape he left it in. They told me how they tried to sell it with a tenant in it, how the tenant didn’t cooperate. Finally, I asked what the price was. She told me, and I said hmmm… So she dropped the price a few thousand.

Another seller when asked the price, told me–I chuckled–she dropped the price $5,000. Another seller confessed while we were discussing his loan that he was behind on payments. I commented that that was sure going to hurt his credit if he were foreclosed on. You could hear his motivation level going up on the spot, his comment being that he needed to sell his house quickly.

Your phone calls are looking for people, not houses. If you listen carefully, read between the lines, probe enough, you’ll know which houses are worth additional investigation. BUT NEVER do I ask two questions and then run out to look at the house.

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