7 Questions for Real Estate Agents Interviewing Potential BuyersJuly 31, 2017
Asking these questions helps set expectations and create better buying experiences
If you are in the real estate business—or have been on the market yourself—you know that the internet is full of countless blogs offering buyers tips on interviewing and selecting a real estate agent or broker. But as an agent whose livelihood depends on commission, it is equally important for you to find the perfect buyer.
Every real estate agent—or fan of House Hunters for that matter—has stories of clients with eyes bigger than their bank account or the other one who switched agents with no warning. So what questions can you ask potential buyers to weed out the clients that are not worth your time and learn as much as possible about the needs of more serious buyers? Say no more.
Why are you buying and why now?
Knowing a potential buyer’s reasons for buying a home—such as welcoming a new addition to the family or seeking a starter home—will help you as an agent understand the client’s needs and tailor your search to meet them.
Are you currently working with an agent?
This should really be a two-part question. If the buyer admits to working with another agent or broker, ask if they have signed any paperwork that might include a buyer’s representation agreement with that agent. While a buyer’s representation agreement is not regulated by the Texas Real Estate Commission, working with another buyer’s client is ethically questionable and is certainly not likely to make you any friends in your local career circle.
If the buyer does not have any kind of contract in place, follow up by asking them why they are considering a new agent. This will help you figure out what their needs are and how you as their potential new agent can better manage them.
Are you working with a lender?
Many real estate agents do not work with buyers who have not visited a lender; whether this is your personal policy or not, it is important to know that your buyer has an understanding of their financial situation before you put too much work into a client. If your buyer has not yet seen a lender, this is a perfect time to recommend one you know you work well with.
What if we found the perfect home tomorrow?
This question is a great way to find out what a potential buyer’s timeline is. This question tells you more about their potential client’s personality as a buyer. Are they decisive and quick to act? Or do they want time to deliberate and talk things through with a trusted advisor? Either way, this helps prepare them for the trials and tribulations of your local real estate market.
A great series of follow-up questions might start by asking about the timeline of their current living situation. Do they rent? When is their lease up? In what step of the buying process are they, if they currently own a home?
What are your dealbreakers?
In other words, uncover what will send your potential clients straight to the office of another agent. Avoid catastrophe by knowing what buyers are not looking for. Whether it is a particular neighborhood they cannot abide in or a prerequisite of at least three bedrooms, buyers often know more about what they do not want than what they are looking for.
What is your favorite room in the house?
A simple yet entirely revealing question, as it allows you to begin to understand a potential buyer’s lifestyle, needs and desires in an unconventional way—who is not tired of, “What’s on your wish list?” You will learn more about your potential client’s values, family and personality and connect with them on a more intimate level through their likely more personal answers.
Whether they are a newly wedded couple looking for a cozy living room to cuddle up in or an outdoors family of four looking for a spectacular backyard fun zone, your buyers will paint a much more vivid picture of their lives with a question that allows them to speak from the heart.
How do you prefer to be contacted?
A great first impression goes a long way, and nothing says professional and polite like asking when and how potential clients would like to hear from you. Ask your buyer if it is preferable that you e-mail, call or text correspondence, then stick to this method of communication. A buyer will be turned off if they feel like their agent is bringing additional stress into their lives via spam.
Also ask a buyer when it is best to contact them; is there a best time of day and/or number they would like you to use? Be clear about your own boundaries, too. While it should be common knowledge that agents do not appreciate 5 a.m. phone calls, even happy clients can become upset if they feel like they are being ignored or if they are inadvertently inconveniencing you. Prevent this from happening by being transparent about your hours and communication.
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