AgentInvesting

3 ways to prove you’re legit when sellers are wary of scams

Motivated sellers becoming more suspicious of real estate fraud, especially when they are already in financial trouble

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Takeaways:

  • When you send them postcards, call them or email them, sometimes sellers think that you’re running some real estate scam.
  • When you call, visit or write to a motivated seller, you shouldn’t dominate the conversation with a ton of talk about yourself and your business.
  • You can show that you’re not running a real estate scam just by being personable and kind to your sellers and having a strong online presence.

If you’ve been in the real estate investing business for any time at all, you’ve probably learned that motivated sellers can be kind of hard to read at first.

While you know that you’re here to help them get out from under a heavy financial burden, you’ll find a lot of the time that sellers are wary and suspicious.

Sometimes they assume, when you send them postcards, call them or email them, that you’re running some real estate scam or that you’re at least trying to lowball them into making a bad deal on selling their house.

Why are sellers so suspicious? Honestly, it’s because there are a lot of scams out there, and these are people who are often already in trouble financially.

They can’t afford to fall for a real estate scam, so they’re going to be extra careful. With so many scammers in the world today, you really can’t blame them for being cautious. But you can put their minds at ease and show that you’re legit, and you do want to help.

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1. Tell them about yourself

When you call, visit or write to a motivated seller, you shouldn’t dominate the conversation with a ton of talk about yourself and your business.

However, you do want to give a reliable, honest introduction. You don’t want them wondering, “Who am I talking to?” So tell them exactly who you are, the name of your business, what you do and how you help people in their situation.

Once you’ve introduced yourself, you’ll then want to have a list of questions about their situation and the property itself, but don’t treat the conversation like you’re reading a script.

Refer to the questions whenever you feel a pause in the conversation, and go over them quickly to make sure you got all of your relevant questions answered before you say goodbye. But don’t read them off like a robot.

2. Don’t be too pushy

As you ask questions and chat about the house and your seller’s situation, you want to find out as much as possible, but you don’t want to be too pushy or too nosy.

Give the seller room to think and speak, but don’t ask a lot of personal questions.

If, for example, you’re trying to find out about what’s happened to put them in this situation, you can say something like, “If you don’t mind me asking, what has changed in your financial situation that’s making it hard for you to pay your mortgage?”

If the seller isn’t comfortable with telling you the details, don’t get pushy.

And don’t get too pushy about making the sale over the phone right away, either. Tell them that you’d like to run the numbers and see if you can work out a good offer that will meet their needs and goals for the property.

Then ask them if you can call them back with that figure and when would be a good time to reach them. After that, make sure that they have your contact information, as well as the URLs for your website and social media accounts.

3. Have a strong online presence

Finally, make sure that you’ve established a strong presence online. Real estate scammers are hard to track down online (or offline) because once they’ve taken someone’s money, they need to disappear fast.

You can show that you’re not running a real estate scam just by being personable and kind to your sellers and by giving them the opportunity to look you up online and see that your business is legitimate.

As an investor, it’s important to establish a credible reputation early in the game. It boils down to the golden rule: Treat motivated sellers the same way you’d like to be treated if you were in their situation.

Be kind and patient, and always be transparent with your dealings and motivations. People will respect you and your real estate business — and your bank account will benefit.

Tarek El Moussa, co-host of HGTV’s “Flip or Flop,” is a successful real estate investor based in Orange County, California. Along with his wife, Christina, the couple also leads Success Path Education, a real estate investment training program for aspiring investors.

Email Tarek El Moussa.