The Most Powerful Sentence in buying a Storage Facility – and Why

When buying a self-storage facility, there is one sentence that is more powerful than any other you can tell the seller:“What would I have to do to get you to sell me this property?”Why is this so successful for the buyer? There are multiple reasons.

There’s no way to answer it that does not lead to a road map

If the seller says “for me to sell this property, I’d have to get $750,000” then there’s your solution: offer $750,000. If they say “I’d need $750,000 and a good 1031 to put the proceeds into” then once again you have a map to get there. If they say “I’d have to get my wife to agree to the sale” then let’s go talk to your wife. Once you’ve established the road map, it’s simply a matter of taking those steps, just like a GPS system.

It embodies raw enthusiasm and sellers love that

Nothing turns a seller on more than raw enthusiasm. It’s very complimentary as to the desirability of their property, and it’s just a lot of fun to work with positive people. Enthusiastic buyers are the ones that get the job done and overcome all obstacles (such as losing a lender or a title issue) and the seller knows that.

You become the most aggressive buyer possible to negotiate with

When you pose the question “what do I have to do” you have changed the focus from selling to a group of potential candidates and narrowed it down just to you. This throws the seller off-guard as they are now only thinking about your and not any other potential buyer. So they are not given the option of coming up with a price that is too high, placing it with a broker, and seeing what happens. You have changed the trajectory of the deal mechanics.

It saves a huge amount of time

One of the big problems in buying storage facilities and talking to mom and pop sellers is that often those conversations are not productive – the seller can’t make up their mind on if they want to sell and what the price would be. Your question cuts out all the uncertainty. If they say “there’s no way I’d ever sell this property” then you can simply move on and not waste any time. If they say “I want $1 billion” then you can try to negotiate but, if unsuccessful, once again move on to another option.


Use this question if you want to bring a quick conclusion to a negotiation, or simply to get a good feel from the seller from the onset. We have brought many deal to a successful ending by simply asking this simple query.

By Frank Rolfe

Frank Rolfe has been a commercial real estate investor for almost three decades, and currently holds nearly $1 billion of properties in 25 states. His books and courses on commercial property acquisitions and management are among the top-selling in the industry.