Nobody Is Accepting My Offers… Now What?

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:

“YES! TAKE MY PROPERTY! IT'S YOURS!”

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% mark up, leaving me with more cash than I could think of ways to spend).

In a lot of scenarios, this actually did turn 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 in order to get to this end result. Even so, I understand the frustration some people feel when their desired result doesn't materialize right away. 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 out? What then??

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

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

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

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

Remember, if you're following this business model to a T, the offers you send out are going to be laughable, all the time, every time. Your offers NEED to be consistently low like this because if you compromise on this model at any point, you're eventually going to pay a lot more than you need to (and it will happen by a long shot).

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

  • They know their property has real value (and it's a lot more than what you're offering).
  • They don't hate their property (i.e. – it hasn't yet become a major nuisance for them yet).
  • They aren't on the brink of financial disaster (i.e. – they know how to plan ahead).
  • 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 types of “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 a number of normal folks like this. Some of them 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. Make Sure You're Getting 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 are 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 and it is infinitely important that you're dealing with people who have needs and desires that are in alignment with yours.

In many cases (though not all), you'll find that when you're talking to the right kind of 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 get in contact with 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 actually 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 literally take any offer you send them (even if it's nothing). Their primary concern is to simply get the property out of their life and into your hands, no matter what the cost. These people have had enough, they're spent, 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 they haven't thrown in the towel just 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 they 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 have any significant effect on 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 actually 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 they all have 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 bit of 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's going to 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), and which ones are willing to let their property go for pennies on the dollar (in the 5% – 10% range). 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 that sellers have varying levels of motivation to sell their properties at a discount, some sellers need more hand-holding than others.

Think about what kinds of 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 at all) about what you're agreeing to, or would you rather deal with someone who is 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're able to 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 actually 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 in such a way that 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 with you – dry spells happen to the best of us. I've experienced myself, and I 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. What I eventually found was 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 the way I was handling 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 literally sent out over 100 offers and nobody has accepted a single one (and I hope you're never in this position, btw), then I think it's safe to start asking yourself some questions…

Of course, there are a ton of variables that can affect the typical investor's acceptance rate, but in my experience, these ones 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 what your current process looks like and what you can do to improve your acceptance rate. You might be surprised at the results!

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. Sean says:

    Thanks again Seth for the great content. I’m still “nursing” my first postcard campaign (featuring your templates from the Toolbox). I think I’ve got a 3% response rate (8 out of 236) but I’m ok with it. I’ve made tremendous effort to get in the groove of returning call, doing due diligence and figuring out the process. While it does truely stink not to land a deal – I don’t feel I’ve lost the campaign money. What I’ve learned just by being forced to call and talk to these individuals is great and is building momentum to land a deal. You’re posts are beyond informational, they are actionable and really help me keep a “nimble mind” when approaching the land business. Thank you for that and always look forward to your content; best wishes Seth!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks for letting me know how you’re doing Sean, I’m glad to hear that you’re getting out there and making things happen! 3% isn’t a bad response rate, especially considering that this was your FIRST campaign. And like you eluded to, on the first go around, you’re going to learn a lot more than you’ll earn (it’s just the natural order of things).

      Keep at it man. Continue to tweak your process with every new campaign and you’ll get to where you’re trying to go!

  2. Justin says:

    I like how you broke down the different categories of motivation. I’m planning to start my first direct mail campaign in the coming weeks (bought your postcard toolkit) and this will make a good reference article when calls start coming in (I hope calls come in…). I’m also hoping for a higher than normal response rate as I did a lot of clean up on my source list. Do you find that your source list has a lot of properties that seem useless (too small to build on, in a flood zone, landlocked, etc.)? I was surprised how many problem properties I found, which could explain why the owners stopped paying their property tax. Thanks for the great information!

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Thanks Justin, I’m really glad you found it helpful. Hopefully it will be a good reference if/when you ever run across this obstacle. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn’t… but either way, it’s no reason to give up – it usually just means some fine-tuning is needed.

      And yes, there will always be some properties that are virtually useless. This is why the due diligence process is so important, so you can identify this kind of thing before you sink any of your (or someone else’s) money into it.

  3. Gabe Sanders says:

    It only makes sense that when you’re looking for that one in a thousand deal, you’ll need to make on average a thousand offers.

    That is unless you have a good system to identify the deals.

    1. Seth Williams says:

      Absolutely Gabe. That’s the importance of getting the right list, sorting it properly and communicating a compelling message to your recipients. When you’re taking the right steps, this stuff definitely works!

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