Motivated Seller Tug Of War

Seller Resisting Offer

Today I want to ask you a question. What are you doing, right now, in your business when a motivated seller resists your offer? What are your standardized responses and processes?

When a homeowner is resisting your offer, it complicates and drags out the sales process. How many times have you gone to an appointment, made the offer to a motivated seller, explained how you generated the offer by calculating the repair costs and ARV, and found yourself in an argument with the seller?

It can be frustrating when a seller questions your offer or claims it is unfair. People value their homes differently than the market does and this can lead to unrealistic expectations. A typical response to an offer can go something like this:

“What do you mean my house is only worth $200K? The house down the street just sold for $350K!”

Now you are faced with the challenge of explaining (delicately) how that other house was fully repaired and up to date while this house is in disrepair and does not match the local market’s demands and desires.

As an experienced real estate investor you know, to the penny, how much houses are going for in your market. You know everything about the neighborhoods you specialize in: how much the construction cost is going to be, what your profit needs to be to meet your goals, etc. You know your numbers. A motivated seller, potentially someone wo has lived in the same house for 40+ years, does not know.

If you have ever found yourself arguing with a seller, then you know that it slows deals down significantly. You also know that it reduces, and sometimes entirely prevents the establishment of, trust. Without trust, you have no marketing or bargaining power.

Real estate investors are marketers. Marketers need to build trust to position themselves as the expert and authority. We need to be prescribing (this is the best solution for you), not selling (you should buy what I have).

How do we acquire this prescriptive power? By educating the community. By giving our motivated sellers choices and options, by making sure they know and understand all the paths in front of them, we separate ourselves from the identity of salesperson and take on the identity of advocate. We present information and options, then step back and let people make their own choices. No pressure.

Here’s an example. Recently, a seller in my local market reached out to me. He knew that I bought houses, but he did not know that I had written a book. His particular problem was that his mother was in a rehab facility, but the family was unsure what to do about her house. They hoped, however, that she would be able to move back in one day. Many families are in similar situations with similar ideas and plans.

The difficult reality is that when a person first enters a rehab facility, it could be 6 to 12 months before it can be reasonable determined whether or not they will be able to return to living independently. The family is under a lot of emotional stress during this time and then has the house to consider on top of the health situation.

I asked my client if he had read my book on Senior Housing. He had not, so I gave him a copy of the book and the workbook as well, because initially he wanted to flip the house. He already had his mind 99% made up. He works at a mechanic shop and thought that if he spent his weekends working on the house, he would be able to make more money on the sale.

What he did not know, that you and I know as real estate professionals, is that flipping houses is hard. It takes a lot of time. If you do not have experience rehabbing homes professionally, it can be distressingly slow process. There are countless variables and unknowns. I was 99% sure that that was not going to be the best route for this seller.

But if I had gone to him and simply told him flipping the house was not going to be the best choice for him, that he would only net out the same money, maybe less, than he would selling it as-is, he would not have believed me. By giving him the book and workbook, I let him read and decide on his own.

When he came back to me a couple of weeks later, he said that after reading page 44, which breaks down like the major systems including the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, he realized he did not have enough knowledge or expertise to take on the house flipping project himself.

As a fix and flip real estate investor, you must know the right questions to ask. How old is the current system? What is the typical lifespan of each system? How many years are left on it? What are the estimated costs of repair or replacement? I put all these questions and typical answers in the workbook. When my motivated seller read this and then read the sections in the book about sewer pipe leaks and old electrical issues that he had not considered, he realized that flipping the house was not actually the course he wanted to take.

He came back to me and told me that, after reading the book, he had changed his mind. “I don't want to flip the house anymore. I just want to sell it to you.”

I went over to the house. I made him a fair offer. It was a win-win. I was the only person he considered working with. Here was another exclusive deal I was able to secure and close because I had positioned myself as the educator.

If a seller is resisting your offers or it is taking too long to close deals in general, think about how you can build trust. For us, we have found that the fastest way to build trust is through education. Whether you publish your own book, write an e-book, or upload a video, creating a piece of purely educational content that you can share with your community will increase your leverage with resistant homeowners.

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