Patience is a Virtue…
…especially when dealing with some of the distressed sellers who call us in this business. Once you’ve got your direct marketing going out to your lists of motivated sellers, you’ll start receiving calls. And if you are anything like I was, you’ll be scared stiff during the first few.
BUT… do NOT let them go to voicemail! Unless you already have a call answerer in place (a live person… no machines), you need to swallow that lump in your throat, ANSWER the phone, and realize THEY called YOU, because YOU can help them get out of their current situation. You’re a real estate problem solver, right? Here’s a problem. They want YOU to help them solve it… and you’ll get paid in the process. So… rule #86: ANSWER the phone!
Here’s where the fun part comes in.
I was sitting in a car driving myself and some colleagues back on a 110 minute drive, from the South Shore REIA last week. It’s around 10:30PM at night. Chris had all his indirect and direct marketing out, and literally had TWO sellers call him after 10PM, while he was in the car. Hey – when they are ready, you better be too!
When a motivated seller calls, remember the position they are coming from…
They’re scared, very distrustful, skeptical of everything you tell them, and they will judge you in about 10 seconds (in person, it’s 3).
They probably have had bill collectors call them every hour of every day, have their mail stuffed with collection letters, and even have some people show up at their door to threaten them. YOU are their next contact, so it’s important to do 3 things:
1. Build Rapport. This involves listening to their situation, EVEN if it takes 30 minutes. The MORE you listen, the more you will learn about their situation… and the more they will begin to like you. This is the most important step. People do business with people they like, and who they trust – this is where you start that process.
2. Collect the Information on their home. This is where you take out those scripts and property intake sheets you have from all those seminars. Always have a bunch available. They include questions like, “If you had to guess, how much would you value your home at now?” and “How much do you think you owe on your mortgage?” “In your opinion, how much work is required to bring the property to showable condition?” Sometimes this is harder than it seems, as you’ll see in the story bellow.
3. Set the appointment to MEET with them. This should be NO LATER than 48 hours… 24 if at all possible. This is the meeting where you’ll walk through, do your inspection, analyze your rehab costs, and then structure how you will solve their problem, and make a profit in the process.
Back to Chris’ phone call
Let’s call this seller Miss Huffalot–Miss H–for no good reason. (Okay, fine… its because she huffed and puffed the entire time!)
Chris knows all these rules, and knows what his objectives are. But every once in a while, you get one of the special ones who have you wondering if it is a prank call. Miss H may have been around 85 years old, was slurring her words, and decided she wasn’t going to give Chris ANY info. Here’s a brief, summarized excerpt. Mind you, this call took around 40 minutes of our ride home… and provided us some needed entertainment.
Miss H: “Are you calling from the bank?”
Chris: “No ma’am, I’m an investor that helps other people solve real estate problems, and buys houses. Did you get a letter in the mail?”
Miss H: “I did – I’m looking to stay in my house after the closing, is this something you can do?” (This sent red flags up the moment she said this, especially so quickly into the conversation… beware!)
“Chris: “Well, it all depends on your situation. Everyone is different. It would depend on your mortgage situation, the details on your house, and what your plans were after your problem is solved. Do you care to share your situation with me?”
Miss H: “You know, I hate all these banks. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be in this situation.” <Insert about 5 minutes of her telling stories of friends, and how much she hates banks and lenders and mortgage brokers in here>. “Chris, are you pro-bank, or anti-bank?”
Chris: “Oh, I’m probably as anti-bank as they come. One of the strategies we use is called a short sale, where we sell the house for less that what is owed on the mortgage. Is this something you think we could work on together, or do you care to share any details on your situation or house?”
Miss H: “Chris, I want to set one thing straight. The Ibanez ruling is a fantastic thing. Ibanez makes me think that the world is finally turning anti-bank. In a short sale situation, would Ibanez come into play?”
Miss H: “Ibanez is so great. I think banks should start to watch their step when it comes to dealing with us anti-bank people, don’t you think Chris? If what you do has anything to do with Ibanez, I’d be more apt to work with you on it.” <Insert another 5 MINUTES of her talking in circles about what she calls the “Ibanez law”… she clearly was VERY confused as to what this ruling stated>
Chris (after 5 minutes): “Can you tell me any details on your home, so we can see if I can work something out for you?”
Miss H: “Chris, have I told you about my friend who got into a divorce and was in this awful agreement with her Uncle?” <insert a long story in here, interrupted by Chris on a few occasions asking for the address…>
Chris: “Miss H, uh… I’d love to talk with you about your property, but it’s a bit late, and perhaps we can set up a call first thing tomorrow morning, when I’m back at my office?”
Miss H: (continues to talk, completely ignoring Chris)
Fast forward 30 minutes later. Chris has now heard several stories, and though he kept trying, he has gotten nothing back on her situation or even her property. Whenever we thought Mrs. H couldn’t possibly ignore Chris’ questions again, she would steamroll right through the conversation without acknowledging him. Now, he knows she needs to talk when she’s in a better frame of mind… if/ when she’s no longer nuts and on Uncle Norman’s magic sauce.
Chris: “Miss H, I’m headed into a tunnel, I will lose you… let’s set up a time tomorrow to talk. Say, around 10AM?”
Miss H: (continues to ramble on, telling random stories to seemingly anyone who would listen, completely ignoring Chris’ pleas for a continuation)
Chris: “Miss H, I have to run – I’ll give you a call back tomorrow in the morning.”
Chris hangs up, and plans on calling her in the AM, although doesn’t know what to expect… and he sets a time limit.
You know what the upside of sitting through these calls is? I’ve had DEALS come from sellers like this. Read the blog from before on our NH seller situation (New World Order) … imagine the patience that was required as we dealt with sellers like this. Many may fall apart, and many are people who just want to talk… but occasionally, you’ll get a couple who WILL come through with a deal–or two, or three. I had one seller who I thought was way “over the hill,” and after listening to him and two calls later, he finally gave me the details on all THREE of his multi-family investment properties located in the Lowell area – all that cashflowed quite nicely.
SO, the moral of the story for today is… be patient, and don’t judge.
Many of these sellers are in fragile situations, and don’t know who they can trust. Like any business, it takes TIME and more rapport building before a deal comes from it. If you had to sit through a repetitive 40 minute conversation to get a deal, what would you do?
I applaud Chris for sticking to his marketing, keeping his phone ringing, and for having the patience to talk with everyone who calls – deals are following!