Jeremiah Rizzo

Breaking the Ice: How to Talk to Motivated Sellers
by Jeremiah Rizzo

Ask just about any REI professional, and they’ll tell you their first experience talking to a homeowner was exciting but nerve wracking at the same time. Even for outgoing people, your first time talking to a motivated seller can be a fear-inducing thing.

So, if you’re new, and haven’t yet landed your first lead or client, the prospect may be even more terrifying. You may be wondering how it will go, what questions the seller will have, how they’ll react to your offer, or how you should communicate with them.

I think that one of the things that can help still that fear, is getting advice from other investors on what you should say, or how you should approach the homeowner. A lot of times, we can work ourselves up fearing the unknown, and sometimes all it takes is an experienced voice giving us some guidance or taking the pressure off, to help us get started.

If that’s you, then hopefully this article will be helpful.

Above all else: approach with a mindset to help.

Selling a service is vastly different than educating and helping. People are sold to enough already. They hear sales pitches all the time. If you were approaching a homeowner to try and sell them on a deal that was no good for them, or that won’t help them meet their goals, then you should be nervous.

But it can take a lot of the pressure off of you when you approach the homeowner from the mentality of helping them. Instead of going in with the mindset of: “I’ve got to land this deal”, go in with the mindset of, “I’m going to learn what this person is trying to do, learn their pain, and then educate them on the potential solutions that exist for them.”

That’s vastly different.

In the first example, you’re going in, seeing this person as a number, and selling them your service regardless of whether it’s the best thing for them. In the second, you’re going in as an educator. You focus on what they want to do, and then explain how your service can help them achieve their goals.

The reality is, not every homeowner lead you get is going to be a good fit! If Starbucks isn’t for everyone (and it’s not), then neither is your service.

So, don’t act like it is.

Therefore, in summary, the first thing to do on your first meeting is to approach with the mindset of an educator. Focus on listening to the needs of the homeowner. And then, educate them on all their different options.

Imagine a mechanic…

Don’t believe me that education is the best form of marketing? Imagine you’re taking your car into the mechanic because you hear a ticking in the engine. The mechanic calls you up after evaluating and tries to sell you brakes, alignment, and 5 other things you don’t need. You would probably feel like you were being sold, and have some form of mistrust, and be reluctant to ever do business with them again, right?

But imagine the mechanic says, “here’s 3 solutions to the problem you have,” then proceeds to explain how you can take your pick and outlines the pros and cons of each. Chances are, if you really want your car fixed (and don’t want to do it yourself or wait) you’re going to give that mechanic your business. 

The reason is trust. They’ve heard your goal and pain, and they’ve educated you on your options. They aren’t trying to sell you, and they’re even willing to let you walk away or equip you to DIY if you want. But if you’re a good fit for them, you’re likely going to work with them.

It’s the same for you talking with homeowners.

Be honest about what you can offer, and how the process works.

Yeah, it’s that simple. Maybe you feel pressure to really convince them, hide details, or be ashamed of your offer… and so you spin the truth a little.

But that’s only going to backfire on you. When you approach the homeowner, be really honest about what you can do, how it works, and let them decide. Matt, the owner of Omaha Homes for Cash, says that when you’re talking to a homeowner for the first time you should “just be upfront and honest with them. Lots of investors out there don't do business in the most ethical of ways. I refuse to conduct myself that way. Treat your clients with respect and don't lie to them and try to take advantage of them.”

Some who are new to REI might feel nervous to disclose or break down their numbers when asked. It’s really crucial that you do. If you don’t, it’s going to seem like you have something to hide, or like it’s a scam.

Remember, 1) you aren’t for everyone, and 2) you offer a really great solution, for a niche group of homeowners. If this client is in that niche group of homeowners, then you have nothing to worry about.

It’s much better to show exactly how you’re getting your offer number, and letting the homeowner see the profit you need to make, and showing them the risk, you’re taking, then to let them assume you’re just low-balling them because you’re a crook.

Finally, listen more and talk less.

As you approach your first motivated seller, there may be a pressure to do all the talking or try and present some canned speech. Mike, the owner of Sell My Home Cleveland, encourages you to “do more listening and less talking. Listen for what your client wants and needs, and then go to work trying to meet that need.”


This goes hand in hand with the first point I made, about approaching the client as an educator, not a salesperson. You can’t help someone if you don’t know why they’re looking to sell, or what their goals are.

Ask things like:

  • Why are you looking to sell?
  • What’s your timeline?
  • What do you plan to do after the sale?
  • What would be the ideal solution?

More than that, ask them about them. Build rapport. Ask how long they’ve lived in the area. Basically, treat them as humans, and not as potential sales numbers. Jared runs The Friendly Home Buyer, and agrees, “be human. Don't treat it as just a transaction. People want to do business with someone they like.”

Building trust is everything.

Would you believe it if I told you that sometimes homeowners don’t look around for a higher offer? That sometimes they choose someone just because they trusted them?

It’s true.

I’ve personally seen testimonial videos where the homeowner is saying ‘I was going to reach out to other investors and take the highest offer, but after I met ____, I knew I wanted to work with him/her.’

I’ve seen at least one video testimonial where the homeowner talked about the good feeling (or gut feeling) they had after meeting this investor.

That’s what trust is. It’s rare today, and it’s beautiful when you have it.

Jeremiah Rizzo
Jeremiah is one of the nerds at Adwords Nerds, a company dedicated to helping real estate professionals find more deals online. As a digital marketing professional, he's worked for clients across a variety of industries, helping them reach their goals and grow their online presence. He enjoys sharing knowledge & teaching others, and when not working, can be found sipping a good IPA, watching a Chelsea match, spending time outside, listening to music (often Weezer or 70's playlists), and spending time with his wife.

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