30 Questions to Ask a Motivated Seller on Your First Call

Published on July 31, 2023

30 Questions to Ask a Motivated Seller on Your First Call

30 Questions to Ask a Motivated Seller on Your First Call

The first call with a motivated home seller is an opportunity to gather essential information and build rapport with them. This initial conversation can impact how the entire transaction would go, making it crucial to ask the right questions.  

To help you extract the most valuable information from your initial conversation with a home seller, this article lists the crucial questions you should ask. These strategic questions will help you understand their motivation, uncover any potential issues with the property, and guide your negotiation strategy!

What is the Rule of Thumb for Real Estate Investors When Asking Questions to Motivated Sellers?

What is the Rule of Thumb for Real Estate Investors When Asking Questions to Motivated Sellers?

Before listing all the questions you need to ask a motivated seller, you should first learn about these rules of thumb when asking questions. This will dictate the trajectory of the whole real estate deal.

Ask and Listen

One of the most effective ways to gather information is to ask open-ended questions and listen carefully to the responses. This rule stresses the importance of curiosity and patience. As the prospective buyer, you'll need to know about the property, the reason behind the sale, the seller's expectations, and more. 

When speaking with a motivated seller, it's crucial not to rush or interrupt. Ask your questions, then allow the property owner to speak, providing them with the space to share information they might not have if prompted with a yes/no question. 

For example, instead of asking "Is there anything wrong with the house?," you might ask "Could you tell me about any repairs or improvements the property might need?" The second question is more likely to provide a detailed response. 

Always Assess Motivation

Always Assess Motivation

Understanding the seller's motivation is key in any real estate transaction. However, with a motivated seller, the urgency level is often higher, and this can greatly affect the negotiation process and outcome.

The reason behind the seller's motivation could range from a simple desire to dispose of inherited property to urgent financial distress or a need to relocate. Knowing this will not only help you in negotiating the price and terms but also in building a rapport with the property owner.

Remember, however, to ask these questions respectfully, as they can touch on sensitive issues.

Converse Naturally

While it's essential to obtain certain information, it's also crucial to make the conversation feel natural rather than like an interrogation so you can go in the right direction. This helps establish trust, which can make the negotiation process smoother. This also avoids unanswered questions.

To ensure the conversation flows naturally, weave your questions into the discussion organically, respond genuinely to the seller's points, and share a bit about yourself too, when appropriate. 

Natural conversation also involves being empathetic and understanding. If the property owner seems uncomfortable with a question, respect their feelings, and move on to a different topic. 

30 Questions to Ask Motivated Sellers on Your First Call

30 Questions to Ask Motivated Sellers on Your First Call

As mentioned in this blog, asking the right questions to a motivated seller is a crucial step toward a successful real estate transaction. 

So in this section, we present a comprehensive list of key questions that can help you gather the seller’s contact information, property information and condition, personal assessment and the debt against the property.

Collecting Seller’s Information

Collecting Seller’s Information

1. Could you please tell me your name?

This is often the first question to ask and is important for a few reasons. Firstly, it helps to establish rapport and trust. Using someone's name in conversation can create a sense of familiarity and personal connection. 

Secondly, this question helps confirm the identity of the person you're talking with, ensuring you're speaking with the property owner or someone authorized to represent them. The seller's information is essential for accurate and reliable communication throughout the negotiation process.

2. Do you solely own the property?

This question helps to uncover the ownership structure of the property. It's vital to know whether the person you're talking to has the legal authority or is the final decision maker to sell the property or whether there are other property owners or decision makers whose approval will be needed. 

If the property is co-owned, it may affect the negotiation process and setting the best price, the timing of the sale, or even the seller's ability to finalize the sale.

3. What's driving your decision to sell the house?

The above question gets to the heart of the seller's motivation, which is crucial in any negotiation with a motivated seller. Understanding why they are selling can provide valuable insights into their level of urgency, which can influence the pricing and terms of the deal. 

For example, if a seller needs to move quickly due to a job relocation or new job opportunity, they might be more willing to negotiate on price for a quick sale.

4. Have you sought advice from realtors or other real estate investors regarding the sale?

This question gives you a sense of how knowledgeable the seller or decision maker is about the property market and the current value of their property. If they've consulted with professionals, they may have a more realistic expectation of their property's value. 

On the other hand, if they haven't, they may either overestimate or underestimate the price. Additionally, it can reveal whether there are already interested parties, giving you insight into the level of competition.

5. What is your expected selling price for the house?

This is a straightforward yet essential question to get the answer of. By understanding the seller's price expectations upfront, you can quickly assess whether their valuation aligns with your budget and the market value. 

If the seller's expectation is far above the market price, it may require more negotiation, or it might signal that this deal won't be a good fit for you. Conversely, if the price is realistic or below market value, this could present a great opportunity.

6. How did you arrive at that asking price?

This question is crucial because it allows you to understand the seller's thought process behind their valuation of the property. 

Their answer on the asking price could be based on the amount they paid for it, recent sales of comparable properties, a realtor's estimate, or simply a figure they need to achieve their financial goals.

By asking this question, you also subtly encourage the motivated seller to justify the price they are willing to accept. If their valuation method seems subjective or ungrounded in market realities, it could signal an opportunity for negotiation or, conversely, that reaching an agreement might be challenging.

7. How quickly are you hoping to finalize the sale?

Understanding the seller's timeline can provide significant insight into their level of motivation. If the motivated seller needs to close quickly due to reasons such as a new job, pending foreclosure, or another urgent matter, they may be more willing to accept a certain price for a faster sale. 

On the other hand, a motivated seller without a pressing need to sell may have more room to wait for higher offers. Knowing the seller's desired timeline helps you align your proposal with their needs and can serve as a valuable negotiating tool.

8. What's the minimum you'd consider accepting from a cash buyer, assuming no further repairs are needed?

This question is an excellent way to gauge the seller's flexibility on price, particularly if you're in a position to offer a quick, all-cash transaction. 

Cash sales can be more attractive to motivated sellers because they typically involve fewer contingencies and can be closed faster than financed deals. 

Knowing the lowest price the seller is willing to accept can guide your negotiation strategy and can help you quickly assess if the deal has the potential to meet your investment criteria.

9. How open are you to negotiations on the asking price?

This question directly addresses the seller's willingness to negotiate. Some motivated sellers are firm on their asking price, while others may have built-in wiggle room. 

It's essential to ascertain this upfront to avoid wasting time on a deal that won't meet your investment goals. If the motivated seller is open to negotiation, you can feel more comfortable presenting a lower offer or asking for terms that may further benefit your position. You can also open up about the closing costs when closing deals.

10. Why do you think the house hasn't been sold yet?

This is one of the most important questions, as it can reveal any potential red flags about the distressed property or the seller's approach to selling it. It might uncover issues like a high asking price, not enough equity, the need for significant repairs, or problems with the property title before the closing process. 

The seller's answer can also indicate whether they're realistic about the challenges of selling their property. It provides an opportunity to explore possible obstacles and determine if these are issues you are willing and able to navigate.

11. Can you share the house's previous selling price?

Knowledge of the property's previous selling price, alongside when it was last sold, provides a historical context for your negotiations. This can inform you about the possible appreciation (or depreciation) of the property over time, local real estate market trends, and the seller's potential equity in the property. 

For instance, if the motivated seller bought the property at a low price many years ago, they might have more flexibility to negotiate than someone who recently purchased at a high price. However, remember to consider real estate market changes and any improvements made to the property when analyzing this information.

Personal Property Assessment and Contact Information

Personal Property Assessment and Contact Information

12. When would it be convenient for me to inspect the house?

A physical inspection of the property is a crucial step before making any purchase decision. This allows you to verify the seller's claims about the property's condition, assess needed repairs or upgrades, and generally gain a better understanding of its true value.

This is one of the most important questions since you're showing serious interest in the property, which may encourage the seller to be more open and flexible in subsequent discussions. Furthermore, the seller's readiness to arrange an inspection can provide insights into their motivation and eagerness to move forward with the sale.

However, it's essential to handle this professionally and respectfully. You're asking for access to their personal space, which requires an element of trust. Be flexible and accommodating with the time, and remember to conduct the inspection thoroughly yet respectfully.

13. What's the most convenient method to reach you?

Effective and timely communication is crucial in any negotiation process with motivated sellers, especially in real estate transactions where delays can lead to missed lucrative investment opportunities. 

By asking for the seller's preferred communication method, whether it's email, phone, or text, you ensure that your messages are received and responded to promptly. 

Additionally, by respecting the sellers communication preference, you demonstrate your professionalism and customer-oriented approach. Most sellers prefer this because you are able to foster a positive relationship and build trust with the seller. This could be advantageous in negotiations and setting a higher price as well as throughout the entire sale process.

14. How did you come to know about my services?

This question for motivated sellers might seem unrelated to the property sale, but it provides valuable information for you as a real estate professional or real estate investor. Understanding how motivated sellers found you can shed light on the effectiveness of your marketing strategies, whether it's word-of-mouth, cold-calling, direct mail, online advertising, or real estate platforms.

Knowing what marketing efforts brought the seller to you is a great idea as it can help you refine your marketing efforts, focusing more on the working channels and improving or discarding the ones that aren't. This insight allows you to attract more motivated sellers in the future, effectively growing your business or investment portfolio through direct mail and other strategies.

Moreover, if a mutual contact or previous client referred the potential sellers, acknowledging this connection can help you build further trust and rapport.

General Property Information and Property Condition

General Property Information and Property Condition

15. Could you share the address of the house you're selling? How has your experience been living there?

Asking for the property's address is fundamental, as it will allow you to research the property's location, surrounding amenities, and comparative market prices. This information will be valuable for you to assess the property's potential worth and desirability.

Meanwhile, inquiring about the seller's experience living there offers a chance to uncover subjective yet crucial information about the investment property and its surroundings.

It could reveal details about neighborhood dynamics, local amenities, the area's safety, and other factors that wouldn't be apparent from a simple physical inspection or online research from the motivated sellers.

16. Could you please specify the type of property?

Identifying the type of property (e.g., land, industrial, commercial, and residential) is essential for many reasons when you wholesale real estate or you give out a cash offer. Different property types have different maintenance responsibilities, homeowner's association fees, and insurance costs. They also tend to attract many investors of different kinds. 

For example, single-family homes often appeal to families, while condos might be more attractive to singles or couples without children. Knowing the property type allows you to assess whether the property that sellers list fits within your target market or personal living preferences.

17. Do you know what year the house was built?

The age of the house can influence several factors, including its design, energy efficiency, possible renovation needs, and compliance with building codes. Older homes or distressed properties owned by motivated sellers may come with more charm and character but might also require more maintenance or upgrades. 

On the other hand, newer homes typically have more modern designs and are often more energy-efficient, which can appeal to certain buyers or other investors. Knowing when the house was built can help you anticipate potential issues, costs, and the overall attractiveness of the property.

18. Could you tell me the square footage of the home?

Knowing the property's size is critical to assess its value correctly. Typically, property prices are often considered in terms of asking price per square foot, so this information from sellers can help you compare the property with other similar investment properties in the area. 

The square footage also provides insight into the potential usability and livability of the space, impacting the range of potential buyers or tenants for the property.

19. Is it a single-story or a double-story house?

The number of stories in a house can impact its appeal to different buyer segments. For instance, families with young children or elderly occupants may prefer a single-story home for safety and accessibility reasons, whereas others may prefer a two-story home for the separation of living and sleeping spaces

It also plays a part in determining the home's value, as double-story houses often provide more living space and occasionally offer better views.

20. How many bedrooms does the house have?

The number of bedrooms in a house directly influences its value and suitability to a buyer. A one-bedroom house appeals to a vastly different market than a house with three bedrooms does. 

This information will help you understand the potential demand for the property and its rental potential. It's also important to compare the property with other similar properties in the local market when determining a fair and realistic asking price.

21. Does the house have a garage, a basement, or a pool?

Asking motivated sellers about these specific features is crucial as they can significantly affect the property's value and appeal when real estate investing. 

Garages, basements, and pools can be seen as valuable amenities that enhance the home's functionality, storage, and entertainment options. However, they also come with maintenance responsibilities and costs that potential buyers or tenants will consider.

A garage, for example, adds secure parking and storage space. A basement can provide extra living space if it's finished or storage space if it's not. A pool can be an attractive feature, especially in warmer climates, but it requires regular maintenance and can increase insurance costs.

22. What features are included in the sale of the house?

This follow up question helps establish the exact details of what's included in the sale. Features could include appliances, window treatments, light fixtures, outdoor sheds, etc. 

Knowing what comes with the property can influence your valuation and appeal to potential buyers or tenants. It also eliminates confusion or disputes later in the negotiation process.

23. Are there any bothersome factors in the area or any troublesome neighbors?

Uncovering potential neighborhood issues upfront from the sellers is important. Factors like noisy streets, regular disturbances, problematic neighbors, or construction projects can impact the livability and desirability of the property. 

If issues exist according to the sellers and they're not deal-breakers for you, they could provide leverage for asking price negotiation. On the other hand, serious problems might make you reconsider the purchase altogether.

24. Have there been any historical issues with the house?

This follow up question is crucial to reveal any past problems with the property. Historical issues could include anything from structural issues, pest infestations, mold, plumbing, or electrical issues to legal problems like disputes over property lines. 

Uncovering these problems early in the process can save you from unexpected costs and difficulties. It also gives you an idea of potential negotiation points or red flags that might cause you to reconsider the purchase.

25. What improvements would the property require if you were to put it on the market through a real estate agent?

This question aims to get the perspective of the motivated seller on the home's shortcomings and the improvements that could enhance its marketability. It could prompt them to disclose issues that you might not have been aware of or hadn't considered when cold calling. 

The improvements could range from cosmetic updates, like painting and landscaping, to more significant repairs, like fixing a leaky roof or updating an outdated kitchen that's why they want to sell quickly. Understanding these potential repair costs can help you better calculate your offer and estimate your potential return on investment.

26. Have any repairs or updates been made to the property recently?

Understanding the home's maintenance history is important. Recent repairs or updates can add value to the property and lessen the need for immediate maintenance once you take ownership. These property owners might indicate a well-cared-for home, suggesting hidden issues are less likely.

On the other hand, if major repairs were performed by the sellers, it's important to know why, as they could indicate past problems. If the repairs were part of a regular maintenance routine, that's a good sign. However, if they were done to address major issues (like structural problems), you'll want to dig deeper to ensure the problems were fully resolved.

Debt Against The Property

Debt Against The Property

27. What is the outstanding debt on the house?

Asking about the outstanding debt on the house gives you an idea of the seller's financial obligations and the minimum sale price they may need to clear that debt. 

This information is significant in negotiations as motivated sellers with high outstanding debt may be less flexible on price. It also provides context for you to structure a potential deal that can meet both your investment goals and the seller's needs. 

For instance, in some situations, you may propose to take over the mortgage payments to help the seller avoid foreclosure, depending on your investment strategy.

28. Are there any overdue payments related to the house?

Overdue payments can be a major red flag but can also present an opportunity. If the motivated sellers are behind on their mortgage payments, property taxes, or utilities, it may indicate financially distressed seller, increasing their motivation to sell quickly. This could create room for negotiation and potential real estate deals that benefit both parties.

However, any overdue payments will need to be settled before the property can be transferred. You'll need to account for these when calculating the cost of purchasing the property, as they could become your responsibility upon purchase.

29. What is the monthly payment amount for the house?

Knowing the current monthly payment for the house gives you insights into the ongoing costs associated with the property, including mortgage payments, taxes, and insurance of the sellers. This information is particularly valuable if you're considering keeping the property as a rental, as it can help you estimate potential cash flow.

Additionally, if you're considering a creative purchasing strategy, like a lease option or subject-to deal, knowing the monthly payment amount is crucial for structuring the deal correctly.

30. Is the property under the jurisdiction of a Homeowner's Association?

If the property is under a Homeowner's Association (HOA), it means there are additional rules and regulations governing the property, as well as additional fees. HOAs can have significant control over aspects of property maintenance, the sellers, exterior aesthetics, renovations, and even some behavioral norms, as such this is one of the most pressing questions to ask motivated sellers.

It's vital to understand these obligations as they can impact your costs, your ability to make changes to the property, and potentially even your ability to rent out the property if the HOA has restrictions on rentals. 

Key Takeaways: 30 Questions to Ask Motivated Sellers on Your First Call When Real Estate Investing

The questions we've detailed in this article provide a comprehensive guide to extracting all necessary information from your initial interaction with the home seller.

Remember, your goal is not just to gather information through the motivated seller questionnaire we provided but also to establish rapport and trust with the motivated seller. By doing so, you increase the likelihood of a successful negotiation, ensuring a mutually beneficial agreement that brings you one step closer to achieving your real estate goals.

If you are looking for motivated seller leads to connect with for your real estate business, check us out at Property Leads. We offer highly motivated seller leads exclusively so you have more edge over your competitors.

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