Have you ever met someone you immediately didn’t like, even though you couldn’t say why? At the time, you may have thought he just “rubbed you the wrong way.”
What you didn’t like probably wasn’t the person himself. After all, you didn’t know anything about him when you first met. It’s more likely that he had poor communication skills.
Whether you’re a doctor, a real estate investor, or work in a fast-food restaurant, the way you communicate has a strong influence on people’s first impressions – good or bad. People who know how to communicate in a way that cultivates rapport make others feel comfortable – and that’s an important skill to master in today’s real estate market, especially when it comes to foreclosures.
According to The Wall Street Journal, foreclosures in August were more than double the number of last year’s. So this is an area where you may find most of your investment opportunities. If you want to succeed in this emotionally charged market, you must know how to deal with people who are going through stress – whether it’s a banker or a property owner. And that means you have to know how to build rapport with a potential seller instantly.
Build Rapport From the First Knock on the Door
I like to knock on doors when I’m looking for motivated sellers, because I’ve found that it’s the fastest way to get deals. If I knock on 20 doors over a weekend, I’ll have several contracts by Sunday afternoon. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend a day or two getting multiple deals instead of waiting for my phone to ring hoping for just one.
Over the years, I’ve learned some dos and don’ts for meeting homeowners in person:
- Don’t wear sunglasses or a baseball cap. If homeowners can’t see your eyes, they subconsciously become suspicious.
- Carry a clipboard to make sure that both of your hands are visible. If you stand with your hands in your pocket or behind you, homeowners may think you pose a physical threat and won’t hear what you’re saying.
- Never wear cologne or perfume. I know this one seems strange, but fragrances can evoke negative memories and associations as well as positive ones. There’s no reason to take that chance.
- Be aware of the color of your clothing. Studies have shown that green, for example, promotes trust, while red suggests dominance. I recommend colors like green, blue, pink, or brown. Stay away from reds and blacks.
- Dress casually, but professionally – no suits. You should also lose the jewelry when you’re going door to door. Homeowners who need to sell a home in a hurry don’t want to see you wearing a Rolex.
- Watch what you’re driving. If you drive a BMW, consider getting a middle-of-the-road car for meeting homeowners. While it’s true that looking successful can build confidence, distressed homeowners shouldn’t feel that you have become a millionaire from buying properties like theirs. You don’t want them to wonder if the reason you have so much stuff is because you’ve taken advantage of others.
- Be certain you are speaking to the right person. Instead of blurting out why you are there, first ask if this is Mrs. or Mr. So-and-So. When you are sure, continue with your conversation.
- Never use the “f” word (foreclosure). Instead, mention that you’ve been doing some research and see that they have a “pending problem” with their property. This puts the blame on the property, not the homeowner, and leaves them more open to your offer to help.
Good Communication Skills Can Also Help You Build Rapport Over the Phone
Here are a few telephone techniques that have led me to many successful deals:
- Speak as slowly – or as quickly – as the homeowner. People who speak fast think that people who speak slowly are stupid. Likewise, people who speak slowly think that fast talkers are slick and untrustworthy. Even if it isn’t true, it’s a subconscious assumption most people make without being aware of it. Matching the homeowner’s rate of speech can make you seem familiar. It encourages him to like you, even though he may not know why.
- Ask the homeowner to tell you a little about his current situation. Listen with respect and empathy. Once you feel that they are done “venting,” begin to ask for details. Homeowners want to tell you what happened, because they want to justify their situation. No one grows up with the goal of being in foreclosure. Something in their life changed… and they’ll want to be certain you know what it is.
- Make an appointment to view the property, then call back later to confirm. During the second phone call, ask more questions. Be sure that everyone on the deed is going to be home and willing to put a deal together.
- Listen for objections. When you’re on the phone with a homeowner, listen for the kind of objections you’re likely to get when you meet in person. For example, “We don’t have to sign a deed, do we?” If they ask such questions on the phone, be ready to handle them in person.
Establishing rapport is an easy skill to master. Take the time to be approachable, honest, and trustworthy, and business will follow. Better yet, just be that way naturally… and you’ll reap what you sow.