How to Deal with Nasty Sellers and Angry Responses

Angry CallerIt's one of the most bizarre phenomena that continues to fascinate me about the business of real estate investing.

As an investor who specializes in buying and selling vacant landI send out A LOT of laughably low offers to people.

Given that I usually have to send out an average of 8 – 12 offers (sometimes more) for every single acceptance I get, it takes a lot of stamina to go through these motions again and again.

Nevertheless, the need to send out gobs of low offers shouldn't surprise anyone. Let's face it – if you're expecting to buy a property for a small fraction of market value, it's not going to happen without hearing “No” a lot more than you hear “Yes”.

It's a pretty simple concept, really – but even though it's simple for investors like you and me, most of the property owners who receive my offers still have a tendency to act shocked and appalled when they see my number. Even after I've gone through the motions of explaining to each person that:

“My company buys properties at a discount.”

“If I send you an offer, it's going to be very, very low.”

“Just so you know – I won't be sending you a full market offer for your property.”

…a lot of people still don't get it. They really believe (for reasons I'll never understand) that a total stranger is going to swoop in with a bag of cash and make their wildest dreams come true.

I'm not saying it's impossible (people can always get lucky), but why would someone EXPECT this? It's like buying a lottery ticket and expecting to win. I mean, come on… seriously?

People Are Entitled to React Negatively

When you're running a business that requires you to make a lot of ridiculous requests of people, you need to be ready for some equally ridiculous reactionsNobody owes you anything, so don't expect anyone to say “Yes” just because you want them to.

Remember, if you're talking with the right kinds of people, they're probably in a vulnerable and emotionally volatile place already. Many of these people are wounded (be it financially, emotionally, or otherwise). In many cases, things have taken a turn for the worse in their lives, so you need to show emotional intelligence and allow room for the negative reactions you're bound to get from people.

What Does an Angry Seller Sound Like?

Believe me, I've encountered my fair share of nasty responses from property owners who didn't like my offers (maybe you have too).

The first time I got this kind of treatment, I was a bit shocked (maybe even a bit offended), but another part of me was just amused by the emotional outbursts and downright nastiness from people who didn't like my offers.

It would've been a lot easier for them to just throw my offer away (which I fully expect about 90% of my recipients to do), but no…    they needed to “get me back” for failing to meet their pie-in-the-sky expectations.

Want to hear what a nasty seller sounds like? Here's a random sampling of some colorful feedback I've received over the years (all messages have been edited to protect the privacy of the seller):

This guy – who didn't like the $4,000 offer I sent him for his 10-acre property:

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This guy – who didn't like my $300 offer for his landlocked parcel in the middle of nowhere:

This guy – who didn't care who I was. He just knew I was a scam artist:

This lady – who was deeply insulted by my $1,500 offer for her vacant lot and trashed-out mobile home:

This person – who apparently didn't like my offer (I can't recall the price, or type of property, as all the evidence was destroyed):

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This guy – who is never going to sell his property:

This lady – who didn't like my $4,000 offer for her 43-acre property:

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This guy – who didn't like my $3,000 offer for his 7-acre property:

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The thing to remember is – when you peel back all the colorful commentary, profanity, mockery, and sheer rudeness, these responses all boil down to one simple word:

“No.”

We ALL have to deal with this word every day of our lives. It's just a matter of how politely people deliver the message to us and how we choose to internalize it.

RELATED: How to Make An Offer In 30 Seconds

And you know what? These property owners had every right to reject my offers. It's the same reason that I had every right to send them whatever offer I felt like sending in the first place.

When two parties don't see eye-to-eye – someone is inevitably going to say “No”. It doesn't need to be a personal attack – it's just a mutual acknowledgment that the deal just ain't gonna work.

How to Deal with Nastiness and Anger

Ziglar5In the end – a seller's negative response only matters to the extent that you let it get under your skin.

You are not responsible for (nor can you control) the emotional outbursts and irrational responses of other people. You can only control one side of the conversation – your side. Personal attacks are completely unnecessary in this business, so don't lose sight of the fact that this is their problem, no your problem.

RELATED: How to Avoid the Guilt Trip When Sending Low Offers

The sooner you realize this is a numbers game – the sooner you'll be able to get back to overlook other people's ridiculous behavior and get back to work getting deals under contract.

The funny thing is – you'll eventually find (just like I did) that some people will LOVE YOU for bailing them out, even if you're only offering them 10% of their property's market value! You can expect to encounter the full range of responses from the people you come into contact with – the only catch is, you'll never know where someone stands until you send them your offer. It's an unpredictable game but as with anything, the more proactive steps you take, the luckier you'll get in the long run.

Let's Review Some Facts

  • These people don't know the first thing about you, so don't take it personally. Any insults or unkind words hurled at you are most likely a result of their insecurities, so be the bigger person and don't retaliate.
  • If a seller thinks they can do better than your offer, why haven't they already sold for what they think it's worth? Think about it – you're probably not the only investor who doesn't agree with their asking price.
  • You're likely to find (as I have) that the vast majority of the people who respond to your direct mail campaigns don't even have their property listed with an agent. How can these people be upset at you when they haven't even gone through the motions of listing it yet?? Remember – you're simply giving these people an option that they didn't have before (even if it's an undesirable option – they're no worse off as a result of receiving your offer).
  • You don't owe the seller anything. When they get angry at you for failing to meet their lofty expectations, it is 100% wasted energy on their part. When you realize that a deal isn't going to happen, do everyone a favor and just walk away…   there are WAY too many deals out there to waste your energy obsessing over one that clearly isn't going to happen.

Remember, a lot of People will say “Yes” too

If I spent all my time agonizing over the occasional angry prospect, I would've given up a LONG  time ago and I wouldn't have encountered the hundreds of sellers who have said “YES” to me along the way (and who were actually quite pleasant to work with, I might add).

RELATED: How To Write Offers That Get Accepted (With 3 Simple Pages)

Take just a few of the examples listed below. Each of these sellers accepted my “ridiculous offer” with a smile on their face. I subsequently sold each of them for approx 10x more than the price I paid for them.

Wooded Lot in Central Michigan – Offer Accepted for $331 (seller was ecstatic)

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Wooded Lot on Beaver Island, MI for $325 (seller was thrilled)

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12 Acre Lot on Lake Huron w/ 500 feet of beach frontage for $4,527 (seller repeatedly expressed her gratitude throughout the process)

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Vacant House for $557 (seller was profusely thankful and helpful)

14.5 Acre Wooded Lot in Alabama for $4,587 (seller wanted to do more business together)

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Why did these people accept my offers? In most cases, it was because they didn't care about the money (evidenced by the fact that they hadn't even bothered to list their property with an agent). I know it's a foreign concept to most real estate investors – but believe it or not, some people just want an “easy out” and I was there to make the process very easy for them.

RELATED: Understanding The Motivated Seller

You see – there's a bigger picture you need to focus on. You probably can't avoid the occasional encounter with an angry seller – but it's no reason for you to get discouraged. In the end, this is one of those areas where you need to have nerves of steel and not let verbally abusive people get the best of you. When you know that your business model is solid and sustainable, you don't need to think twice about.

You always have the freedom to choose whether you're going to be affected by a person's editorial remarks, or simply ignore them. Life is a constant battle of your own discernment. You can let these kinds of comments eat away at your sense of self-worth or you can look at this kind of immature behavior for the “comic relief” that it is.

As with anything, it's all about perspective.

About the author

Seth Williams is a land investor and residential income property owner, with hundreds of closed transactions and nearly a decade of experience in the commercial real estate banking industry. He is also the Founder of REtipster.com - a real estate investing blog that offers real world guidance for part-time real estate investors.

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  1. Victor N. says:

    Thanks for the article. I just mailed out my first direct mailing campaign and started to receive phone calls from sellers. A couple of sellers told me that their property was worth more than market value, and they were not going to entertain anything less.

    I still have yet to get a “yes”. But your article is helping me keep the faith that this method works. A couple of questions, when do you send out offers, after you first spoken with the sellers? And do you send offers to them even if they said they would not take less than market value?

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for sharing your experience Victor! It definitely takes some stamina and persistence to get to those “Yes” responses – hang in there!

      I typically send an offer to the seller once I’ve at least had some email correspondence with them (and if I really care about the deal, I’ll have a phone call) and I’ve learned the basic details about the property (size, shape, location, etc.). You don’t have to spend hours researching the property, but it’s a good idea to have SOME idea about what you’re making an offer on.

  2. Gabe Sanders says:

    I’m not in the low ball side of this business and I probably get just as many irate reactions from sellers even when presenting market value offers for their property.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      No kidding? That’s really interesting to hear Gabe! It’s pretty rare that I make market value offers – so it’s VERY interesting to hear that you can encounter with the same kind of resistance from people. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Susan says:

    Have you tried this in the competitive southern CA market?

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Hi Susan, as a matter of fact – I have! There are PLENTY of deals in the So Cal area (probably more there than in my part of the country).

  4. Sandra says:

    Dang! This was so good and timely even if you are not an investor. I’m a residential real estate agent and am learning the lesson of having “nerves of steel” and realizing most clients don’t know me but I know me and I’m a fantastic agent who comes from a place of generosity and wants to help. Not letting their anger get under my skin is a a VERY VALUABLE lesson I’m learning! Thanks for a great article!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for sharing Sandra, I’m glad you found this helpful! One of the greatest assets we have is knowing who we are and what we can bring to the table (regardless of how other people respond). Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this!

  5. Vern says:

    Seth
    Great stuff!
    I too have adapted the nerves of steel business plan.
    I always tell my friends ” you make the profit in the buy ” because it will always sell at the right price.
    Once again , great article

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Vern! I hear you – the sooner we can overcome the emotional aspect of it, the sooner we can make real progress. 🙂

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