Irate Calls

Dealing with Irate Calls From Distressed Homeowners

When marketing to distressed homeowners that are falling behind on their mortgage payment, it is not uncommon to get the occasional call from an irate homeowner that feels affronted and vents their ire on real estate agent that offers to help stop
the “F Word” – Foreclosure.

If a homeowner on our pre-foreclosure list is being reported as delinquent by their lender, it is oftentimes a tumultuous
period in their lives, and they are naturally angry and going through an emotional roller coaster of shame, embarrassment
and panic. Many of these homeowners are also in many cases are in denial. It’s no surprise, then, that when a good intentioned agent contacts a financially impaired borrower with the message of hope and solutions, there may sometimes
be a backlash against the agent.

I’ve always been a proponent of the “soft sell” approach. Rather than singling out the homeowner, using soft verbiage such
as “I’m not sure if this applies to you or not, but if you know someone that is falling behind on their mortgage payment or owes more on their house than what it’s worth, I can walk them through the options….”. In this manner, you are not
professing that you have any inside knowledge that the borrower is missing their payments.

From my experience, most complaints from distressed homeowners are triggered by marketing pieces that single them out.
If you say, “through my research, I understand you are falling behind on your mortgage”, or “the bank is reporting that you are delinquent on house payments”, you will infuriate a great number of homeowners. This should go without saying, but I have seen some egregious campaigns that say these type of things, so I would be remiss not to mention this pointer.

When confronted by disgruntled recipients of your marketing, a good approach in my view is to present yourself as a compassionate distressed property expert that offers solutions to problems with real estate loans, and that you are canvassing the entire neighborhood, versus singling out any one homeowner. I put together a guided script you can use when interfacing with those homeowners. See below:

I introduced door knocking as one way to get your message of hope and solutions out to distressed homeowners falling behind on their mortgage payments. Rather than attempting to close the deal on the porch, the soft sell approach of sharing more information has paid dividends to agents pounding the pavement for more short sale listings. Using a list of homeowners 30, 60 or 90+ days late on their mortgage, you can know exactly which mortgagors are struggling, but we strongly advise against telling the homeowner that you have any knowledge about their hardship. We’ve worked with agents that have said to the effect, “through my research, I understand you are falling behind on your mortgage, and I can help….” or, “the bank is reporting that you are 60 days late on your house payment…”. Predictably, this has infuriated homeowners.

A better approach is to present yourself as a local real estate/foreclosure prevention expert that is canvassing the neighborhood to share free resources in the event that the homeowner knows anyone that is facing hardship in this turbulent market. In this way, you are not singling out the homeowner, but convey that you are hitting anyone and everyone in the area with this information. Here is some sample verbiage you can use when knocking on the doors of distressed homeowners:

KNOCK KNOCK. “Hi, Mr. Smith… my name is Bob, I’m a local real estate/short sale expert, I provide ethical, compassionate solutions to problems with real estate loans and I’m visiting the neighbors this evening… I hope I’m not interrupting dinner, I just want to get a couple of these in your hands and get out of your hair…. (hand them a card, flyer or other collateral with a link to your free resource).

This is a book I put together and I’m not sure if this applies to you or not, Mr. Smith, but I’m sure you know someone here in Orange County that is having a hard time making their mortgage payment or owes more on their house than what it’s worth, and if you give this to them, they’ll thank you, I know they will. It’s not about me, I wish they would call me, but they’ll thank you for this.

This book will show them how to avoid foreclosure, it’s got all the tools they need, resources to pull it off. Maybe they want to sell their house for free – short sale – deed in lieu of foreclosure, maybe they just want the bank to foreclose, maybe they’ve been trying to modify that loan for six months now and it’s just not going anywhere. This book will talk about that, too, and what to expect. So can I leave you with a couple of these and you can download it and get a free copy and you can send it to whoever you might know, maybe a coworker, someone at the gym, family member, friend, that is upside down on their primary residence – or investment property – it doesn’t really matter, this book will help them out, it will show them the way out, well, out of the woods. I appreciate your time, have a fantastic evening”.

The biggest sentence to get is “I’m not sure if this applies to you or not, but I’m sure you know someone”. This non-threatening verbiage disarms the homeowner and presents yourself as a compassionate, concerned and guileless person who’s objective is to help.

To learn how many struggling homeowners need your help, you can request a free count at

Interestingly, however, I cam across a fresh approach to dealing with irate calls from financially impaired homeowners, in a video blog by Alex Charfen, CEO of the Charfen Institute and author of the CDPE program. He discusses a three-pronged approach to not only deal with these irate calls, but to convert them. You can
watch the video here.

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