"No is just the beginning of the conversation."

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

I just binge watched the "Undercover Billionaire" season 1. Glenn Stearns is a multi-millionaire who goes undercover to prove that anyone can make it in America. He starts out with $100, an old pickup truck and is dropped in a US city that has seen better days. He is not allowed to tell who he is or use any of his contacts to help. In the course of 90 days, he has to create a business that will be valued at $1,000,000. 

He creates relationships, sleeps in his truck many nights, meets a lot of great people who join him in his effort to start a barbeque restaurant. He ends up picking up scrap in a junk yard that he sells for cash. He talks a closing car dealership into letting him sell the last cars on the lot that aren't moving. He ends up flipping a house, creating a barbeque brand and opening the restaurant along with online sales for his sauces and other swag. Does he make a million dollar valuation? You'll have to binge watch it and find out. ūü§£¬†

One of the things he said during the show is "No is just the beginning of the conversation." He had a lot of setbacks, heartbreaks and frustration, but when it was all said and done, he succeeded. In the real estate business, No is a common response to offers, home inspection reports and a host of other parts of the business. It's at that point that many give up assuming the opportunity has failed. But has it? Is it over? Maybe. Maybe not.

When I started in real estate, I was an investor. I bought a lot of properties over the first six years, and I bought most with no money. My total investment for the first six properties was $7800 I put down for one. "No" was not an option. I heard it a lot, but it didn't stop me. One of the early deals I had was met with a solid, "No." The second offer was also met with No, as was the third offer. At that point, I quit making offers on that property and bought elsewhere. 

Six months later, the seller called me directly and asked if I was still interested in the property. I told him I was, but I had to buy it based on my conditions. When I explained what I was doing, he said, "I can do that." I paid full price, but he financed it at a lower interest rate for five years. Ironically, at the end of five years, he called to ask if I would like to go another five years. He was using the money to send in granddaughter to private school, and the money trickling in was perfect and it spread out his captial gains tax liability throughout the years. Why didn't he take the original offer? My agent, who was wonderful, but she didn't know how to present it. That's why I entered the real estate business. She was an excellent agent, but she had never worked with someone like me. And, she simply didn't know how to deal with a creative investor. I rarely use my own money. That was foreign to her.   

A couple months ago, a listing client asked me how I got into real estate. When I told her my story, she said, "Oh, people can't buy houses with no money anymore." I just laughed. I've bought five houses in the past four years and I have only spent $420. Three of those purchases were after my conversation with her. There are people just like me all over the country. I didn't get to where I did early in my pre-Realtor career by accepting "No" as a response. That doesn't mean I was pushy, or that I would take advantage of people. No, every deal I have ever done has truly been a "win-win" deal. 

The most recent purchase of two houses was from a client of mine who wanted to sell his rentals. I asked him why he was selling. When he shared, I realized he was just tired of dealing with them. I've managed them for the better part of seven years. They're profitable. He has no management duties, but he has small children and other ventures he wants to pursue. I made an offer based upon my price and conditions and he and his wife accepted. 

If he had said no, I would have continued managing the properties until I found a buyer at a higher price than what I'm paying. I would have still won. He would have still won. His whole goal was to stop thinking about them and think about more important things. When you run up against a wall of "No", look for a way to turn that No into a yes.

I just had an agent present an offer on a property I have listed. It was an insulting offer that my client immediately rejected and refused to counter. The buyer's agent said her client would come up to full price. I told her, "She should have made that offer in the beginning." My client was so irritated that he took the property off the market. That agent accepted the no as final.

Late last week, my client reached out to me and said he was thinking it over. This is a unique situation because the buyer's dad lives right next door. So, she's not prone to go buy another property right away. The whole reason for buying was to be next to her dad. Hopefully, before next week is over, it will go under contract with a few changes in her offer. No, was just the beginning of the conversation, but her agent gave up to quickly. Don't look at No as final. Sometimes, it might be best, but other times, it might just be the beginning of the conversation. 

**Update: The buyer came back with a much better offer and my client is going to accept it. No was just the beginning of the conversation.


Comments (41)

Susan McCall - - Compass Realty Solutions
Compass Realty Solutions - Portland, OR
Listing and Buyer's Agent

That is a great story and I really enjoyed your success.  Perhaps you would like to do a presentation on how to buy properties with no money?  I will certainly be there!!!!!

Jan 18, 2021 10:07 PM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Susan, I spent much of the 90s traveling and teaching seminars just like that. It was fun, but it also was a time-suck. So, in the 2000s, I had to give them up. 

Jan 19, 2021 01:00 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Dear Mike - 
As you know, I suggested this post via a link in one post of my own! 
Such a good set of suggestions.
All the best, Lynn

Jan 18, 2021 10:33 PM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Thank you, Lynn.

Jan 19, 2021 01:01 PM
Kimo Jarrett
WikiWiki Realty - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

No is simply a postponement to do what someone else recommends and while many quit after getting one No, some continue until the postponement is over and their offer is accepted. Most quit after the first No, others after three and few persist until getting nine No's. How many No's before your closing depends on you, doesn't it? Interesting post. 

Jan 19, 2021 12:38 AM
Mike McCann - Nebraska Farm Land Broker
Mike McCann - Broker, Mach1 Realty Farmland Broker-Auctioneer Serving Rural Nebraska - Kearney, NE
Farm Land For Sale 308-627-3700 or 800-241-3940

I have always said make them tell you NO and remember sometimes NO is just because they do not kNOw what you are trying to accomplish...so explain it better and make them tell you NO again. 

Jan 19, 2021 08:02 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Mike, I've had few refuse a deal once they understood it. Actually, I can't think of any, but there was probably one or two. You are right. The bottom line is it has to make sense. 

Jan 19, 2021 01:02 PM
Greg Mona
eXp Realty - Scottsdale, AZ
Professional Real Estate Representation for YOU!

My first thought after reading your post was "there are the Mike Coopers of the world, and there are the rest of us!". I mean no disrespect to anybody with that thought, but rather to say that I admire folks like you that figure out how to get things done that 99+% of people would either not even attempt or would give up at the first or second "NO". I am thoroughly impressed with your successful model!

Jan 19, 2021 08:30 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Greg, my office administrator always says, "You make it look so easy." Then I offer to help her do the same and she always responds, "I'd be a nervous wreck." ūü§£

Jan 19, 2021 01:03 PM
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

I've never heard of this show!  I have wanted to invest in a couple of houses to rent for several years but ... hubby doesn't agree. Congrats to you!

Jan 19, 2021 09:36 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS

Mary, I am in the same exact boat you are in. Hubby just doesn't have the stomach for it. I often think to myself that I could have retired (literally) YEARS ago had we both been onboard!

Jan 22, 2021 05:06 PM
Claude Labbe

Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR and Debe Maxwell, CRS yes, sometimes the most important sales task is to the hubby/wife

Jan 23, 2021 07:27 AM
Winifred Smith, CRB SFR AHWD RENE
RE/MAX Advance Realty - Kendall, FL
VP - Training & Education

Just wonderful!  Too many of us are reactionary.  I often tell our agents to remember how we were as children.  When told NO, a child does not accept it and walk away.  We would persistently find a way to get what we wanted.  Whether it was a negotiation, or change of tactic, a child is a tough cookie when determined.  After years in school, learning to behave in the accepted manner, we have somehow lost that.  You have beautifully shown us that we can get it back.  Thank you!! 

Jan 19, 2021 09:56 AM
Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD

Winifred, I wonder if we rob kids of that ability to see beyond disappointments and rejection by forcing them into compliance. Of course, one trip through Walmart and you soon appreciate acceptable manner. ūüėā

Jan 19, 2021 01:06 PM
Winifred Smith, CRB SFR AHWD RENE
RE/MAX Advance Realty - Kendall, FL
VP - Training & Education

Mike Cooper - I saw this TedX several years ago and the message stuck.  You might enjoy it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46La-hV_PLs


Jan 20, 2021 08:26 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude


Really enjoyed this post. NO can lead to all sorts of possibilities if you allow it.


Jan 22, 2021 02:04 PM
Debe Maxwell, CRS
www.iCharlotteHomes.com | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh my gosh, I read every word and absolutely LOVE this post, Mike! I'm so in agreement with you on the NO path. Ray doesn't have the stomach for investing or I would be retired by now! LOL

Jan 22, 2021 05:07 PM
Howard Richardson
Howard Richardson - Los Angeles, CA
IRS and State Tax Representation

Excellent post. Reminds me of the game 'Rejection Therapy.' Risk is at the heart of personal and professional growth.


Jan 22, 2021 06:34 PM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

This might be the beginning of all types of multiple conversations. This is a pretty excellent post.

Jan 22, 2021 07:59 PM
Lise Howe
Keller Williams Capital Properties - Washington, DC
Assoc. Broker in DC, MD, VA and attorney in DC

I loved reading this post - of course I am curious how you got the sellers to finance your purchases - that is the real genius

Jan 22, 2021 08:27 PM
Brad Thomsen
Big Bear Realty - Edmonds, WA
Real Estate Services

Hi Mike Cooper, Broker VA,WV, MD 

Great post.

We live in a culture of butt-hurt Snowflakes who run to their safe spaces to hide from 'words'

I've wondered how long it will be until 'no' is labeled hate speech in our society or NAR censors Brokers who use it.

I've had other brokers file complaints against me if they felt an offer I presented was too low.

I've had brokers file complaints against me when my client responded to an offer with a simple 'no' rather than coming back with a counter offer.

Loved your post.

God save us from the Snowflakes who are crushed by the awful hateful word 'no' in business.

For those confused by my post here may I refer you to the Real Estate training presented by Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross. It's readily found on Youtube.

Happy Selling!


Jan 23, 2021 04:58 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, CRB, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Love it Mike!  No kidding!  I was taught very early on that it's not a flat out NO until you've asked or tried at least 13 times or so.to create whatever it was I was wanting to do  So that's how I learned to play the game.  Give up?  Heck no!  LOL

Jan 23, 2021 01:07 PM
Dan Hopper
Dan Hopper - Gold Way RE - Westminster, CO
Denver Broker / Author / Advocate/Short Sale

This IS, without a doubt, one of the most important postings we all will view... ...  oh HOW I MISS those days of the 80's working owner-carry loans, wraps, seconds, anything to help the buyer avoid the silly lease-option situations.  Thank you for this great reminder, that NO is just the beginning of putting ideas together for a win-win for all.

Jan 23, 2021 02:04 PM
Melissa Jackson
Century 21 Alliance Properties - Azle, TX
Helping You Make The Right Move

Thanks for sharing. I've never heard of this show.  Love the idea of investing!

Jan 23, 2021 08:29 PM
Christine O'Shea
Christine E O'Shea Broker - Naples, FL

That was a great share. I, too, have never heard of that show, I will check it out as I am in a transitional phase of my life and looking for motivation!

Jan 25, 2021 10:03 AM
Sharon Tara
Sharon Tara Transformations - Portsmouth, NH
New Hampshire Home Stager

Having worked many years in the car business, I am well aware that "No" is just the beginning! 

I'm always open to a new show to binge....looking forward to checking out this one!

Jan 25, 2021 01:48 PM
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR¬ģ, EcoBroker, GREEN

Love this post Mike.  Good for you!  There are too many that give up quickly and don't hang in to get that yes!  I'll check out that show.

Jan 26, 2021 08:26 AM