Image of frustrated professional with his eyes closed in grief during crisis

Every so often, I get emails from readers who have given real estate investing a shot (perhaps they tried a direct mail campaign or two and sent out a handful of offers), and they give me an earful about their disappointment because nobody has responded to them with,


When I first got into real estate investing, I have to admit, I was partially drawn in by the promise of getting amazing properties under contract for a fraction of market value (so I could turn around and sell them for a 1,000% markup, leaving me with more cash than I could think of ways to spend).

In many scenarios, this turned out to be true, but these results didn't necessarily happen on the first try, and there were a lot of things I had to do right to get to this result. Even so, I understand some people's frustration when their desired result doesn't materialize immediately. I really do!

Everybody always talks about the importance of being patient and persistent, but what are you supposed to do when you truly feel like you've done everything right and it STILL isn't working? What then??

If you're dealing with this right now (and the dreaded self-doubt that comes with the territory), there are a few important points I want you to keep in mind.

1. Don't Expect to Hit the Jackpot Every Time.

We're all in this business because we want to make some serious coin buying and selling real estate.

Will you hit the jackpot eventually? Absolutely. But let's not forget that you'll also hear the word “No” a lot.

Remember, if you follow this business model to a T, your offers will be laughably low every time. Your offers NEED to be consistently low like this because if you compromise on this model at any point, you'll eventually pay more than you need to.

If you take a sample of the general population, most people you encounter will fit into the “normal” category. These people can usually be described as follows:

  • They know their property has real value (and it's much more than what you're offering).
  • They don't hate their property (i.e. – it hasn't yet become a major nuisance for them).
  • They aren't on the brink of financial disaster (i.e. – they know how to plan).
  • They aren't willing to cut and run at the first sign of trouble (they have the stamina and staying power when life throws them a curveball).
  • They care enough to hold out for the right opportunity (and yours isn't it).

As we'll talk about in the next point below, we generally try to AVOID these “normal” people as much as possible. We aren't looking for “normal” sellers; we're looking for motivated sellers – but even so, you will still inevitably run across several normal folks like this. Some will laugh at your offers, some will act offended, some will ignore you, and some will just flat-out say “No.”

This is okay. Don't be surprised by it. It's just part of the package when you're digging for the right opportunities (and guess what,  those eventual massive checks will be part of the package too).

2. Get the Right Lists From the Right Sources

For the same reason, it isn't fun to fight an uphill battle with sellers who aren't motivated to sell, it is equally important for you to set your target on the right people in the first place.

Remember, we're looking for motivated sellers – people who are perfectly happy with selling their property for next-to-nothing, and I'll tell you right now, you aren't going to find these people if you're just taking a random sample of the general population!

Trust me – if you want your offers to be accepted, there is a very specific demographic of people you need to be talking to. It is very important that you deal with people with needs and desires that align with yours.

In many cases (though not all), you'll find that when you're talking to the right property owner, you won't have to “convince” them to accept your offer – no matter how low it is! The simple fact that you're removing a huge problem from their life will be enough of an incentive by itself.

If you aren't taking these preliminary steps to cut all the “normal” property owners out of your initial marketing efforts, you're going to spend a lot of time spinning your wheels (I've made this mistake before, and believe me, it's painful).

Without the ability to contact the right people from the start, I guarantee you, it will take 10x longer (and that's a conservative estimate) to find the folks you'll end up doing business with.

RELATED: Are You Using the Best Real Estate Data?

3. Think Critically About the Offers You're Sending

When I think of all the motivated sellers I've come into contact with over the years, I've found that they generally fall into a few different categories (i.e. – levels) of motivation. Here's how I would classify them:

Level 1: Sheer Desperation

These people will take any offer you send them (even if it's nothing). Their primary concern is simply getting the property out of their life, no matter the cost. These people have had enough and they don't care about “winning” anymore; they just want it gone, and ideally, you'll be there to make it easy for them.

Level 2: Extreme Motivation

These people are also fairly desperate but haven't thrown in the towel yet. They usually want to pull something out of the deal, but it doesn't need to be much. These people typically have an immediate need in their life (debt, bills, taxes, etc.) and need a small chunk of change to take care of it. In their minds, it's less about getting a fair portion of the property's “percentage of market value” and more about simply handling their immediate need. Sometimes their number is warranted, sometimes it's not…   and whatever it is, it shouldn't significantly affect your offer price.

Level 3: Moderate Motivation

These people can certainly be the source of some opportunities, but they can be harder to nail down. They do care about getting a percentage of the property's market value. They're willing to sell at a significant discount, but they're not interested in giving the farm away. When dealing with moderately motivated sellers, it's less likely that your offer and their expectations will be on the same page. Deals can certainly happen, but to some extent, you'll have to understand their needs, and they'll need to understand yours – and you'll both have to be willing to meet somewhere in the middle.

It's important to remember that every seller is in a different situation and has different levels of motivation.

If you're only willing to blast out offers for 10% of market value to everyone across the board, you probably aren't going to get a lot of accepted offers (that is, unless you've done an extraordinarily good job of getting the right list and filtering it – see #2 above).

If you want to increase the odds of people accepting your offers, you might consider putting just a little effort into understanding where each person is coming from. 

Why are they selling? What is their problem with the property? How low of a price can they accept? What will happen if they can't sell their property for another 12 – 24 months? What is their true level of motivation?

Ask them point-blank – I mean it!

When you take the time to educate yourself about what each seller wants, you'll start to understand which properties warrant higher offers (in the 30% – 40% range, maybe even 50% in some rare cases), and which ones are willing to let their property go for pennies on the dollar. This kind of understanding can have a MAJOR impact on the number of accepted offers that come across your desk in a given month.

4. Consider The Quality Of Your Presentation

In the same way sellers have varying levels of motivation to sell their properties at a discount, some sellers need more hand-holding than others.

Think about what things make you say “Yes” in life. When is it easiest for you to accept what someone is offering you? For example…

  • When you're about to sign a contract, do you enjoy flipping through pages of wildly confusing paperwork or a simple, easy-to-understand contract on one sheet of paper?
  • Do you like making big decisions after someone has given you a terrible explanation (or no explanation) about what you're agreeing to, or would you rather deal with someone friendly, understanding, and easy to talk to?
  • Would you rather sign a giant contract with no explanation whatsoever about what you're agreeing to or a contract that is accompanied by a friendly letter explaining all the benefits (and even the downsides) of your decision and what you'll receive in the end?

If you're finding that making offers in 30 seconds isn't quite cutting it for you…  then try the alternative approach of getting to know the seller's situation. Admittedly, this approach requires more time, effort, and mental energy, but it also results in a significantly higher percentage of your offers getting accepted! Perhaps it's worth a shot – no?

5. How Well Have You “Sold” Them On Your Offer?

Some sellers (most notably, the “moderately motivated” ones described in #3 above) will be happy to accept your offer, but only if you can show them the light. This is an area where salesmanship can become a HUGE asset.

It's important to remember that you're not just giving this person a few thousand bucks for a property they don't want; it's more than that. You're removing a significant burden from their life. If they don't realize this yet, you need to help them see reality for what it is!

Think of yourself as a doctor performing surgery to remove a harmful parasite, tumor, or disease from someone's body (because in a financial sense – that's basically what you're doing). Some of these people will have no idea how big of a problem this property is and how much they NEED to get it out of their life. They don't understand that if it isn't removed pronto, it will continue to cause pain, distress, and financial disaster.

A lot of the motivated sellers you'll come in contact with are lost, confused, or even scared. For one reason or another, they allowed themselves to get into a position where their property is causing them more harm than good…   and in some cases, they aren't going to see the light until you show them the way.

Come at this from the perspective of presenting your offer so they'll understand what a huge favor you're doing for them. Let them know that you're there to help! Not take advantage. Once people see this and you start to establish trust – this will open the doors of acceptance, making it MUCH easier for many sellers to say “Yes” to you.

Final Thoughts

I'll be honest; dry spells happen to the best of us. I've experienced it myself and know how soul-crushing it can feel.

On one occasion, I sent out somewhere in the neighborhood of 60 – 70 offers without getting a single acceptance. It was extremely discouraging. I eventually found that I wasn't necessarily doing anything “wrong” per se; I was just experiencing a statistical dry spell.

There wasn't anything wrong with the offers I was sending out or how I handled my process because the next month, I got slammed with more acceptances than I had the cash to pay for. It was awesome!

Sometimes we just have to slog through the boring, monotonous, even painful period of life before we can reach the real rewards. When these times come, it's abundantly easy to doubt what you're doing…  but it's also quite possible that you're doing everything right. A lot of times, business comes in waves of highs and lows, but it doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong; you just need to have patience and stick to the plan.

On the same coin, if you've sent out thousands of offers and nobody has accepted a single, it's probably safe to start asking some questions…

Of course, there are a ton of variables that can affect the typical investor's acceptance rate. Still, in my experience, these listed above are probably responsible for 80% or more of the issues that cause a poor acceptance rate.

If you're struggling with this in your business, take heart, you're not alone. Take some time to understand your current process and what you can do to improve your acceptance rate. You might be surprised by the results!

About the author

Seth Williams is the Founder of - an online community that offers real-world guidance for real estate investors.

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