Why being Direct is the best way to Buy Real Estate

There are many ways to approach people. Entire books have been written on the subject, and anybody in sales will be happy to give you their personal opinion. But in over 30 years of building up one of America’s largest real estate portfolios, we are firm believers that being direct is the correct path. Telling it like it is represents a refreshing change from a politically correct America, and sellers appreciate the honesty and time efficiency. So how does that work?

No corny introductions

How often do you cringe when a telemarketer starts off with a corny “so how’s the weather there?” or the car salesman starts off with “isn’t that model a beauty?”. The fact is that all humans find these type of flowery intros to be an insulting and insincere waste of their time. But it gets even worse when you are dealing with older Greatest Generation and Silent Generation owners of real estate. They really, really hate those type of corny starts and it’s a deal killer in many cases, as they brand you as someone who is not honest and wasting their time. The correct way to start off a conversation with the seller is “I’m interested in your property located at __________________. Would you have an interest in selling it?”

No game playing

Most real estate sellers hate an overt attempt at negotiation game playing. Spare sellers this awkward behavior and they will reward you with a better price. While everyone understands that negotiation means you offering less and the countering with more, it gets irritating if taken to an absurd level. Some buyers will start off with “I’m not really that interested in your property, but I thought I’d ask and see if it’s for sale” – but obviously you’re interested or you would not be talking to them. Buyers do this type of thing in hopes of sliding by the seller an absurdly low price. Instead, it just makes the seller mad and kills the deal. Most real negotiations go back and forth only two or three times tops. Forget what you read in “you can negotiate anything” books at Amazon.

Don’t be afraid to express your enthusiasm

A big blunder that many buyers make is to hide their enthusiasm for buying the property. They believe that this gives them an edge in negotiation. Instead, this often kills the deal. Why? Because smart sellers know that there will always be bumps in the road on the way to closing the transaction, and the buyer who has no enthusiasm will drop out when these problems occur. The enthusiastic buyer, on the other hand, not only will have the energy to prevail, but the seller finds their enthusiasm to be a compliment to their selection of real estate they bought. They say that enthusiasm is contagious, and that’s a powerful force when you’re buying real estate.

Be yourself and gain the possibility of “bonding”

One of the most powerful forces in real estate is “bonding” which means the buyer and seller becoming friends. Sellers are willing to help their friends by giving them lower prices and seller financing. But you won’t make any friends if you are not honest and being yourself. Don’t put on any artificial pretenses with sellers as they can immediately smell a rat and will not trust you in any way. It’s easy just to act natural, and here’s one time in which it’s essential. That being said, don’t be stupid on being too open about your thoughts. Don’t show up at a meeting and talk about the three forbidden topics of “politics, sex and religion”. And dress conservatively, even if you would rather be wearing a Hawaiian shirt and shorts. Put your best foot forward but just don’t put your foot in your mouth.


Sellers react very positively to the honest, friendly buyer that is genuinely enthusiastic about their property. So approach your seller in this manner and you will be highly successful to buying real estate. Those people who tell you to play games and give your meeting the best “Hollywood” schtick you can know nothing about successfully buying property.

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.