When I first got started in this business, I did everything the guru who wrote my course manual said to do. I had my stack of “seller information sheets” stacked neatly by the phone and when the phone rang (after I got over the amazement of someone actually calling) I would go through them line by line. At the end of the conversation, I knew a lot about the house, but not necessarily much about the seller's motivation.
Despite my “seminar graduate” technique, I still managed to pick up a few properties.
These days I do things differently. I know that a house is a house and I will get around to finding about it soon enough. First and foremost what I need to know about is the seller's motivation to get rid of that house. This is important because I try not to leave my office unless I am 95% certain I will come back with a contract.
My goal now is to get to the root of that seller's problem as quickly as possible. If he is moving to another state next week I want to know it. If he is 1 week away from the foreclosure auction I want to know that as well. I am looking for specific phrases like:
“I am being transferred next week and we have to get it sold before we move”
“We are divorcing and neither one of us can make the payment by ourselves”
“We are moving into our new home next week and can't afford 2 house payments”
“Those darn tenants haven't paid me in 3 months”
“It had been listed for 6 months with no offers”
“I just want to get rid if it!”
When I hear something like the phrases above, I know I just might be talking to someone who will be open to most anything I might suggest. If I don't hear something close to one of those phrases, the conversation is likely to be short. Sorry, but I have better things to do with my time besides meeting with unmotivated sellers.
You will need to gather some information such as loan balance, payment amount, etc. You will find that motivated sellers won't mind parting with that information either. They will be happy to share it with you.
If you value your time as much as I do, throw away those “seller information forms” and start listening to the seller. If they are truly motivated, they will tell you more than you want to know.