Improving Seller Calls

It was a fall Sunday morning before a Denver Bronco game. I was playing fantasy football and desperately wanted to watch the pregame shows to make the best decisions for my fantasy team. There were bragging rights on the line after all, but instead of going to the remote, I went for my phone.

I had a small office in the basement of the house I was living in located in Thornton, a northern suburb to Denver. It was basically a hallway outside of the laundry room and my roommate was busy washing her clothes. I had to stand at my desk in order to let her pass each time she needed to check on things. There were several other places I would have rather been and other things I wanted to be doing. I did not want to be in that hallway with a phone to my ear while laundry was blasting away, but I had a goal to reach. I needed to make 30 calls before the Broncos kickoff.

This was my routine every weekend and most week nights. I had a great phone script, but it was the tweaking to that script, making it mine, and the practice on the phone that helped me become successful. I purchased more than 50 houses by calling sellers directly, and over the years I learned what makes an investor successful on the phone. Here are three keys in cold calling sellers that will make you successful.

Have a script. Routine breeds success. This is nothing new, but it is worth mentioning. The most successful people in the world, in any area, have a routine for what they do best. This could be a professional golfer, a builder, a waiter or waitress, or a school teacher. In business, if you find something that works and you do it over and over, you will become rich. It is really that simple. A script is your routine, it helps you work your way through a call and should be used every time you make a seller call.

Make the script your own. Although a script is extremely important, it can also hurt you. If you follow a script that you are not comfortable with and read it word for word, you will sound nervous and rigid. This will make the motivated seller uncomfortable and make them want to end the call. It is best to find a script that you can change a little to fit your personality. It is also important to know that you need to be prepared to veer from the script and go with the call. Enjoy the conversation. That is why I like real short scripts with plenty of flexibility.

Don’t sell on the phone. When I was just starting, the script I was using had me make a creative offer on the phone. If the seller was open to the offer, I would set the meeting and negotiate the numbers. It took hundreds of calls to get an appointment with a seller, because I was over qualifying them by selling on the phone. Maybe someday your time will be way too valuable to meet with sellers that you might not do business with, but for most of us, getting the appointment with a qualified lead is the most important result. The way you do this is to qualify their motivation and then schedule a time to view the house; the goal is not to get a deal on the phone. If they ask for an offer you can simply say you need to see the house before you can discuss it and that they should invite you over. The qualifying question in my script is, “Sounds like a great house. Why would you even consider selling?” The answer to this question will give me enough information to schedule a meeting or not.

Focus on “no” oriented questions and never trap your lead. Many sales books teach “yes” oriented questions. Hearing the word no is scary, and as a sales person we are taught to get our prospect saying yes. This is done by asking questions that the only answer is yes. For example, you might say “Most people are looking for the best price for their home, do you agree?” Of course they are going to agree with that. Doing this can create some unease and make them uncomfortable with you. People want to feel like they have options and giving them the option to say no can be powerful. A question like “Do you disagree?” will be much more powerful than “Do you agree?”

Another strategy often taught in sales that makes people uncomfortable is giving them limited options. I think this can be extremely useful and is a great strategy, but you need to be careful. I had a solicitor call me the other day asking for a donation. His questions were, “Would you like to donate the normal $50 or would $25 be easier?” This is a great close when you have rapport with someone, so it could be very effective in a meeting, but it made me hang up the phone. I don’t know you!

Overturned Mortgage Rulings Creates Chaos at the Supreme Court and Bank Stock Falls

This week has seen unprecedented Supreme Court action that has unleashed all kinds of mayhem on an internal level, not to mention the consequences this has had on the financial sector. Over the past few years we have seen thousands of court cases revolving around the financial sector and their methods when it comes to granting mortgages. The primary issue was in relation to the infamous Floor Clause inserted in mortgage agreements (in many cases without advising the mortgage holder!) but a Supreme Court ruling in favour of mortgage holders obligated banks to reimburse any benefits obtained which could be a few thousand euros per case. The secondary issue and the one this article refers to has to do with reclaiming the Stamp Duty paid on the Mortgage Deed.

In February of this year, the Supreme Court by means of its Civil Court issued a ruling that stated the mortgage holder is responsible for payment of the corresponding Stamp Duty, however, this same ruling was OVERTURNED by its own Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings in an unprecedented action last Tuesday 16th October 2018 and recorded under Ruling Number 1505/2018. This ruling corrects the existing ruling that was passed only a few months ago and determines that in fact the BANK and not the client/mortgage holder is responsible for payment of any Stamp Duty due when a Mortgage Deed is granted before a Notary Public. How has this come about and what was the reasoning given for this surprising turn of events?

Mrs Lourdes Amasio Díaz, a barrister who represents the company known as “Empresa Municipal de la Vivienda de Rivas Vaciamadrid S.A.” initiated an appeal to reverse a ruling against her client as recorded under Recurso de Casación 5350/2017 and this is what was considered at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings. As stated previously, this appeal made Magistrate Jesús Cudero reconsider the Supreme Courts previous ruling and side with her client. The criteria used to arrive at this decision was the fact the only interested party in registering a mortgage loan at the Land Registry Office is the bank because it is the only way they can make claims against the mortgage holder in the event of non-repayment of the loan, therefore the bank should be liable for the resulting tax.

This about-turn can seem conflictive but as it turns out when the matter was apparently resolved in February 2018 at Civil Court, the same issue was already on the table at the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings which now does not hold the same point of view.

The result of last Tuesday’s ruling is a massive dip in the stock market which has affected Spain’s major banks, primarily, Bankia, Bankinter, BBVA, CaixaBank and Banco de Sabadell. The one major factor that has not been detailed in the ruling is whether the Stamp Duty for mortgages signed over the past four years can be reclaimed or whether it only applies to new mortgages. Of course, the banks interpret the ruling to apply only to new mortgages, so this point must be clarified.

It would appear the Spanish banks’ reign of tyranny is over and they are being made accountable for their one-sided dealings with their own clients, however, this ruling has stirred up a hornet’s nest and it is far from over… Not even 24 hours after this latest ruling was passed, the Supreme Court has made yet another astonishing decision to review this sentence. Mr Luis María Díez-Picazo, President of the Court for Contentious-Administrative Proceedings has decided it would be prudent to delay this ruling until other considerations can be examined. By this he is referring to the effect this has had on the stock market and what it would mean if the banks have to reimburse what experts estimate between 6.000 and 24.000 million euros.

A Plenary Session of the Court must be held within the next few weeks in which 31 magistrates must decide whether the latest ruling that determines the banks are responsible for any Stamp Duty that arises from mortgage deeds will be accepted or not. What is going to happen in the meantime? Well, in theory, a legal ruling was passed so notaries will continue to advise that according to the ruling of the 16th October 2018 and applicable from Thursday 18th October 2018, it corresponds the banks to pay the tax. The shock attempt on Friday to reverse that sentence is a mere Memo but does not qualify as legislation until such a time the plenary session decides which ruling stands.

Some clients who were due to sign for mortgage loans at Notary that Tuesday postponed their appointments until the outcome of the court case was known but even though the ruling is now debatable, Stamp Duty in the Canary Islands for example is payable within 30 days of signing the deed (in other autonomous regions the deadline is 60 days) so I expect the banks will until the last moment before paying in case they can pass that expense back to the mortgage holder.

What we have here is a split decision within the Supreme Court itself with two very different rulings issued by two different chambers. My personal opinion? A matter of this magnitude should have been determined at a Plenary Session in the first place instead of allowing two chambers to pass a sentence on different cases which has allowed this gross conflict to occur. We’ll have to see what the outcome of the Session is and hopefully it will be in favour of the little guy to help put an end to what I call the Banks’ Reign of Tyranny.

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