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Questions to ask a potential buyer

Published on March 25, 2020

You’ve put your property on the market and are waiting for potential buyers to contact you. Before scheduling a visit, we recommend asking a few questions. It’s an easy way to find out if the buyers are serious or just curious. This will keep you, and them, from wasting time and energy.

By pre-screening in this way, you will be making sure you are doing business with qualified buyers. In other words, you will be targeting the people who are more likely to purchase your home because it meets their needs and is within budget.

Summary:

Initial contact

Buyers are often armed with a long list of criteria and a ton of questions. But don’t forget that homeowners have just as much right to question prospective buyers before scheduling a visit. This initial contact, usually done over the phone, is a great opportunity to develop a relationship of trust between two people who could soon be entering into a real estate agreement.

Get down to business with these four questions

The answers to four simple questions will help you quickly determine if the person on the other end of the line is looking for a property like yours, is truly ready to take the plunge and has the financial capacity to do so.

1. Can I have your contact information?

Sellers have the right to know who they’re dealing with. If the potential buyer refuses to give their information, it will be difficult to trust them and initiate a completely transparent process. Martin Desfossés, real estate coach at DuProprio, says that that saying no is simply not an option.

You need the potential buyer’s contact information to confirm the date and time of the visit. That way, you can avoid preparing your home for a no-show. You also need their information to be able to send documents.

A broker’s obligations

Real estate brokers have an obligation to identify themselves and tell you their intentions. If you’ve decided to maintain control of the transaction and don’t want a broker to visit, you can let them know right away. Otherwise, you may need tips for negotiating with a buyer's broker.

2. Have you looked at the listing?

Your listing provides a lot of information about your property. When potential buyers have a look, they’ll quickly know if the area, type of property and location meet their needs. They will also know the asking price and be able to determine if it is reasonable and justified.

Validate the information

If they haven’t seen the listing, give them as much information as possible about the property before having them visit. If the number of rooms, the size of the house or lot, the neighbourhood or the price aren’t right for them, that’s not a good sign of a potential sale. But if the property seems to be the right fit, arrange a meeting and encourage them to look at your DuProprio listing. They can check everything you’ve told them, have a look at the photos and take a 3D virtual tour. Ask them to contact you if they’re no longer interested.

It is in your best interest to give potential buyers clear and accurate information about your property, to the best of your knowledge. This will prevent unwanted visits and disappointment.

3D tour of a bedroom

3. What’s your preferred occupancy date?

This is a question that sellers sometimes forget to ask, but the answer is very important to the selling process. It will let you know if you have similar expectations and if an agreement with the potential buyer is possible or likely to get complicated. By identifying both of your needs from the outset, you’ll avoid ending up in a deadlock when it comes to finalizing the offer to purchase.

Dates don’t line up?

Let’s take the following example: The buyer has to leave their current home by July 1st, when their rental lease ends, and they want to take possession during the summer. You, on the other hand, are planning to buy a new house, which won’t be ready until November. One of you would have to find a temporary residence for a few months. You already know that this will be an issue and that you will have to reach a compromise, whose terms will need to be defined.

4. Are you a homeowner?

If the potential buyer is already a homeowner, they probably have the financial means to purchase your home. To clarify their intentions, ask if their property is on the market, has been sold or will be listed soon. You basically want to know if the buyer needs to sell before buying your home. If that is the case, their offer to purchase will be conditional on the sale of their property. And you’ll need to allow time for this condition to be met.

First-time homebuyer: A bad sign?

If this is their first time purchasing a property, it’s natural to wonder if they have a big enough down payment to buy your home. Take the time to ask if they have a mortgage prequalification or have started the prequalification process. That way you’ll know if they can afford your property.

Be open-minded! If a buyer doesn’t have a prequalification letter from a bank, it doesn’t mean they can’t afford to buy. You could very well still accept an offer from them. But the buyer will have to provide a mortgage approval letter within the timeframe specified in the offer to purchase.

Schedule a visit!

Your job as the seller is to transmit accurate and relevant information about the property and the surrounding area. It is also to ask the right questions to get the information you need.

Are you pleased by your interactions with potential buyers? Schedule a visit, give a tour and trust that these encounters will help you meet the future owner of your home. To facilitate the sale and to stack the odds in your favour, help buyers fall in love with your home. You don’t need a huge budget. Just a few small improvements can make all the difference. After all, buying a house is not only a rational decision, it’s also an emotional one.

Not clicking with the person? Dare to say no!

Are the answers to your questions not satisfying or lack clarity? Avoid wasting time and being caught off guard, and politely decline the visit. There are many other properties on the market whose characteristics will better suit this buyer’s needs.

Types of visitors you may encounter

Your first visitors are at the door? Take a deep breath and relax. Not everyone who shows interest in your home will make an offer to purchase straight away. You’ll meet visitors with different personalities and goals. It’s all part of the process. Read on to discover the three types of visitors you may encounter:

Looky-loos

First, there will be visitors who have no real intention of buying your home. These are often people from your area who are interested in the real estate market. They might be thinking of selling their home in the near future and want to see what you have to offer and at what price. Ultimately, they want to find out how much they can hope to get for their home. 

How to recognize them: Unlike potential buyers, who tend to ask a lot of questions, looky-loos will stay mostly silent. Even if you try to question them a little, they’ll remain evasive about their intentions.

How to act with them: To avoid wasting your time, we recommend prequalifying buyers. You can check how serious potential buyers are by asking a few questions before letting them visit. 

Shoppers

You will see a lot of these. That’s natural. Most people visit several homes before making a decision. Their main goal is to become familiar with the market and find a good deal.

How to recognize them: They will tour your home with interest and ask several questions, including about the price. They want to check if you’re open to negotiating and may very well contact you after the visit to get additional information.

How to act with them: These are potential buyers. While they may not seem all that enthusiastic during the first visit, don’t get discouraged. They’re in the process of assessing homes and weighing their options. Make sure you’re offering an attractive product at a competitive price, because they’ll be comparing before making a final choice.

Those who are already sold

These visitors are rare: when they leave, you’ll know a sale is imminent! They’ve already fallen in love with your property and are simply visiting to confirm that they’ve finally found their dream home.

How to recognize them: By their enthusiasm! They’ve read your listing in full and already know a great deal about your property. They recognize elements they found charming in the photos and point them out.

How to act with them: Take nothing for granted. Be persuasive, answer their questions confidently and show off your home’s best assets. Then, prepare the Offer to Purchase document because you’ll probably need it!

While they may have similar characteristics, every buyer is different. Get ready to meet people with different preferences and needs. But now, if you open the door to a looky-loo, shopper or person who is already sold on your property, you’ll have a good idea of how to act with them. All you’ll need to do is to adapt to their personality.

Checklist for informed sellers: 4 questions to ask a potential buyer

Keep this list of questions on hand when answering calls from people interested in visiting your property. You are doing yourself a favour by being well prepared, to make sure the selling process goes as smoothly as possible.

Checklist of 4 questions to ask a potential buyer

To see how DuProprio can guide you through the steps of putting your home on the market and selling commission-free—saving you thousands of dollars—call us at 1-866-387-7677. Or, watch our webinar to learn more about our services.

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