You’ve heard the old cliché that buyers are liars, right? It’s so well-known it was #1 on Inman News’ list of the top 50 real estate one-liners, and for good reason.
There are few things in real estate more frustrating than showing buyers multiple properties only to have them make lowball offers, decide to continue renting, or buy a home through another Realtor.If you’ve had any of those experiences, you might be tempted to agree that buyers can’t be trusted.
But what if there was a way to weed out many of the seemingly untrustworthy buyers just by asking three simple questions?
The right questions asked the right way will give you all of the information you need to decide whether or not a buyer is worth your time. Here are the three questions you must ask before putting prospects into your car:
Question #1: What do you know about the local real estate market?
This innocent-sounding question will get you more information than you might think. First, the buyers’ answers will tell you if they’re realistic about the market. If not and they’ve been misled by the news or a helpful friend, it’s better to set them straight upfront than it is when they’re ready to make an offer well below list price.
Second, when answering this question buyers will often tell you how much research they’ve done, whether or not they’ve already viewed homes, and if they’ve spoken with other agents.A buyer who understands the market but hasn’t spoken with other agents is a far better prospect than a buyer who has already seen five homes with four different agents.
Question #2: What would happen if you didn’t buy?
It’s common to ask, Why do you want to buy? and, How soon do you need to buy? when first interviewing buyers. The answers to those questions tell you whether you need to put the buyers in the car today or add them to your drip email campaign and follow up in a few weeks.
Unfortunately, those questions don’t give you the whole story. Maybe you’ve had the experience of working with seemingly hot buyers only to have them tell you they’ll rent for another year or stay with family when they weren’t able to find a home they liked.
Asking buyers what would happen if they didn’t buy tells you how many options they have. All else being equal, the more alternatives prospects have to buying, the more likely it is you’ll lose them if the going gets tough.
Question #3: How can I best help you?
Many of the misunderstandings between agents and buyers can be traced to conflicting expectations. The buyers only wanted to use the agent to see one house; the agent thought she’d picked them up as customers. The agent thought the buyers would want to speak with her mortgage person; the clients felt pressured and decided to work with someone else.
By asking how you can best help the buyers, you are inviting them to share their initial expectations of you. First and foremost, this allows you to make an educated choice of whether or not to work with the buyers. Second, it prevents the kind of misunderstandings that drive buyers into the arms of another agent.
Buyers typically aren’t liars. However, they also don’t always share the complete truth unless you ask the right questions. Add the three questions above into your buyer interview, whether in-person or on the phone, and save yourself from working with prospects who are likely to waste your time.
P.S. – There’s one more question you might consider adding: How do you plan to search for homes?It’s best to know upfront if the buyers plan on driving through neighborhoods or searching online in addition to viewing the listings you send them. That way, you can gently coach the buyers to call you first with any questions instead of contacting the listing agent