7 Questions to Qualify Buyers

A couple walks into your office while you’re on floor duty. You greet them and they tell you they want to buy a home. Great, maybe. True professional agents learn how to quickly qualify a prospective buyer. They want to determine two things:
  • Will this buyer be financially capable of buying now?
  • If they are capable, are they actually ready to buy?

It’s about your time

The reason for qualifying a prospective buyer is simple enough. You don’t want to spend hours and hours showing property to someone who can’t or isn’t likely to buy in a reasonable time frame. In some markets, that time frame is actually immediately because homes are again selling rapidly. In others the decision to actually put an offer on a home takes place in a more leisurely fashion. But it shouldn’t go on for weeks and months – you simply have too many other potential clients to spend that kind of non-productive client who can’t make up their mind no matter what. By learning how to qualify buyers you screen out the time sinks so you can truly be of service to the qualified.

Questions qualify

Qualifying is done for the most part through questioning the potential client. Here are some samples:
  1. When did you plan to move? Knowing when they plan to move or hope to move helps you gauge their urgency or lack of it.
  2. Have you pre-qualified with your bank yet? If they say ‘yes’ they are pretty serious customers. If they haven’t you need more information – often people need guidance through this process.
  3. How long have you been looking? If the answer is six months or a year, it may mean they are not serious. A follow up with something like ‘why do you think it’s taking so long’ may get you missing information.
  4. Do you already have an agent? It’s amazing how many buyers are willing to have you show them property then use their favorite agent instead of you to complete the purchase. If they say yes, you can educate them about how the real estate business actually works, explaining that their agent can show any home that’s in the multiple listing service, even one you’ve listed.
  5. Will you have to sell the home you live in now in order to buy a new one? You need to know this because it will almost always slow down the purchase of the new home. You also may discover you can get the listing. In fact, some offices insist they have the listing before they begin showing the seller property.
  6. Have you talked with a lender yet? Similar to asking if they’re pre-qualified for a loan, but a bit more subtle – ask both. Remember, most people who buy homes have no clear idea how the financing works.
  7. If I call my lender, could you meet with her tomorrow or the next day? This is almost a closing question. You’re trying to figure out how serious they are and you want to know if they can really be financed.  Be prepared to make the appointment if they say yes, or if they say no, find out what’s getting in their way.
Some agents feel awkward asking these questions. Yet, if you’re going to be successful at selling homes you absolutely need to have straight answers to all of these or you’re spinning your wheels, which doesn’t help the client either. Of course, you’ve also got to listen deeply and carefully. It’s not just the words folks use that will clue you in about the potential client, it’s also how they say them and what they leave out. Do you have qualifying questions you’d like to add to this list? Tell us in comments.
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