Most novice real estate investors find talking to sellers one of the most intimidating aspects of real estate investing. It’s understandable since they are the key to getting a deal. But with the right training, you can become a pro at this in no time —and even enjoy the process.
1. Go in thinking and believing that you are a real estate professional, even if this is your first deal. Your sellers will assume you know more than them about the whole process, so act that way. You’re there to buy their house not make new friends. Act that way.
2. If the seller asks you a question you don’t know the answer to, don’t fudge it. Say, “Wow, that’s a great question. I don’t know the answer, but I’ll find out and get back to you.” Honesty builds trust. You’re not expected to know everything. But find out and do get back to them.
3. Dress professionally. Do not show up to a house in jeans. You don’t need to break out the suit, but you do need to look every part the real estate professional that you now are.
4. Drive a nice car, even if you have to borrow one. It is not ok to show up to a seller’s house driving your old junker. What does that say about your level of success?
5. Park your car across the street from the house. Don’t ever park in their driveway or on any part of their property. It’s a psychological barrier to them trusting you—to them, it’s almost as if you’re already claiming ownership of their house.
6. Take with you a leather (or faux leather) folder, some business cards, and a brochure about your real estate company, if you have one. (This is nice to have but not essential). You can pick up a faux leather folder from OfficeMax for $12. Get one—it’s a good investment. Have a nice pen to take notes with as you walk through the house.
7. When the seller first opens the door, greet them with a smile, introduce yourself, and thank them for inviting you to their home. Ask them if you’re parked in an acceptable spot—it’s a great icebreaker and shows that you’re a considerate person. This is important to building trust.
8. Ask if someone can show you around the home. Never wander around on your own, as this is an important part of the sales process.
9. While taking the tour, be very careful about what you say. Be aware that every sentence you utter will either add to the purchase price in the minds of the seller or deduct from it. For example, never say, “This is a beautiful home” or “I could see myself living here.” Do however point out all the issues that you see in terms of repairs and tell them what you’d need to fix. Make a list of all these items so you can refer back to it later.
Remember, the goal of a home inspection with the sellers is to buy your houses and confirm the numbers you already know from doing your research and to verify that there are no major structural issues that would dramatically affect the price. Try and get them to talk about the issues with the house as much as possible. Sellers typically know where the issues are. Draw attention to them and then let them do the talking.
10. After the house inspection, ask to sit at the kitchen table. Don’t sit at the head of it (it sends the wrong message). Take the sellers through your presentation and be prepared to sign the agreement right then and there.