Offer a dollar for their house….. and get contract!

Yep, I offer a whopping $1 for people’s homes, and end up getting the contract almost every time. Ok, so how is it I am offering a dollar to a smiling seller and getting contracts signed? Let me give you a brief background on the story.

If the Seller Says Yes, You Offered too Much

How many times have you gone to a seminar or worked with a real estate coach/mentor and had the “low ball” mentality drilled into your head? I know I have heard the good ol’ “if you don’t feel sick to your stomach when you present the offer then you offered too much” or “take what you think you should offer then cut it in half” punchlines so many times that I believed it as truth. Seminar gurus teach this all the time, and while I get their point, it just fails more often than it succeeds. Then I had a real estate coach tell me to call 100 people selling their home on craigslist and offer them a third of their asking price…..

Damn Right I Was Scared

Just to go ahead and put it out there: I was absolutely terrified of the responses I would get!  But being a good student I trotted on out to the wonderful world of craigslist, picked up the phone, and after a couple dozen hang-ups, more than one “f&@# you” and several other vulgar remarks, I decided I was doing something wrong. So I called my coach back and this is the response I get: “if they hang up on you they’re not motivated. Call some more”.

A few things came from those calls:

  • I got very comfortable talking to sellers and I would recommend everybody do that exact same exercise. I learned a lot about different types of sellers, and reactions I would receive. Was I scared? Hell yeah, but I got through it.
  • That brings me to the second point: I got to do a ton of practicing with “free leads”. These calls did not come from my paid advertising, and therefore if I screwed up the call, who cares? You never want to burn up paid leads with “practice”. Use this free trial as a warm-up to get you going on the calls you are paying for.
  • Lastly, I quickly found out low balling a seller is NOT the way to build rapport and get a signed contract regardless of what has been drilled into your head.

What came from this, and many seller conversations later, was that I need to offer as low as I can, but without giving my sellers a slap to the face. Hence, the reverse close was born.

Pawn Stars Style

look-i-gotta-make-a-profit-here-so-ill-give-you-1-thumbSo what am I doing so differently? How am I showing up to seller appointments when there are multiple investors bidding on a property and I offer a dollar, and I GET the contract? It’s 100% in the delivery.

Believe it or not, many sellers are nervous about talking numbers. They’re not skilled negotiators and they just want a price for their home and for it to be sold. But they watch Pawn Stars and any one of a number of other reality TV shows where some polished negotiator is working the numbers, low balling offers, haggling and everything else in between. So when the seller is talking with you, they are prepared for a long, drawn out, dramatic TV-show style negotiation where you low ball them, and then haggle for a while  and so on and so on. This is what they are gearing their nerves up for and they have their game plan all drawn out.

What Do I Do Differently?

The seller is expecting me to start low, they start high, and after some serious negotiations we meet in the middle somewhere with a fair offer. Guess what I do? I offer them double their asking price. Yup. If the seller is asking 100k for their home, my opening line is “if I offer you 200k with a cash closing before the end of the week, do you think we can sign contract tonight?” Ok, I know what you’re thinking: you said offer a dollar and you get contract. Offering double their asking price and getting contract is no accomplishment. I obviously am not still in business by paying double retail value for homes. So why do I do this?

1) Break the Ice

The goal with this opening line is to break the ice and disrupt their thought process. All it does is calm some nerves and get the seller working with you. It’s incredible how the mood in the room changes when your opening line is the exact opposite of what they anticipated. It drops an atomic bomb on their preconceived negotiation strategy and switches their mind from negative to positive. The sellers generally smile really big, start dreaming about all the new stuff they can do with double the money, etc. etc. and it really creates a pretty good laugh. When working with sellers, rapport buys more houses than cash does. If you can make your sellers look at you as a friend and not a negotiation combatant then the whole process is much easier.

2) Slap Yourself

keep-calm-and-slap-yourself-2I generally follow up a few moments later with a playful slap to my forehead or something of the like and laughingly say “Oh man! I have never been good at this whole negotiation thing. Wasn’t I supposed to start low and then go up? What if I offered you a dollar in cash and we close in just a few days, do you think we could sign tonight?” Sellers generally get a chuckle out of this, and knowing I am not seriously offering a dollar for their home, they politely decline my offer.

What the sellers probably didn’t realize though, is that my offer was serious and was my starting point for negotiations. Now imagine if I offered them a dollar before I did the setup? You’re damn skippy – seller would have shut down, rapport would have bottomed out like the Titanic and I would not have received the contract. Where do we take the conversation from there? It’s quite obvious that I am not paying double and they are not accepting a dollar, but I 100% guarantee you that the sales price will fall between those two numbers 😉

3) Dead Silence

On to the quick follow up: “Well Mr./Ms. Seller, it seemed pretty obvious that if I paid 200k for your home we could move along pretty fast and get this property closed, but I am almost certain that when I got home my wife would serve me with divorce papers! Selling for 200k would make a lot of sense for you but could put me out of business. Selling your home to me for a dollar would be great business for me but wouldn’t be a good decision for you. So where is the point where my offer is high enough that we could sign tonight, and it be a good decision for both of us? If I offered 10k I am pretty certain you would still be saying no, but what if I offered 25k (said in a joking manner)?”

Then, just wait, in complete and total dead silence.

4) Contract is Now Yours

Several things can happen. About roughly 70% of the time I have had sellers come straight out and tell me their bottom dollar, their reason for needing the money, or their loan balance, giving me the opportunity to better analyze the sale. If I know their bottom dollar I can either accept, or give my explanation why their bottom dollar would still end up in my divorce. If I know their “why” about the money, such as a cruise or to pay off a truck, I might be able to find a way to structure the deal to still get them their “why” and I get the price I need. Sometimes finding out the loan balance when a seller wants a 100k and is refusing to budge even though all logic points towards the home not being worth 100k would reveal this property is best suited as a short sale or subject-to transaction.

Yup.. that’s what I do

All in all, we have accomplished our goal. Get the negotiations started at a very low price point while building rapport and creating a win-win scenario for all parties involved. If you practice this delivery on craigslist just a few times a week I am positive the next time you go to make an offer on a house it would be a light hearted and easy going experience.

I would love to hear your thoughts, or if you have found key tactics that have helped when negotiating please leave a comment below. Have a great day and just keep swimming!

Cover Photo Provided by: Steve Corey

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