Questions Buyers Can Expect Initially When Reaching Out To A Real Estate Agent

Questions Buyers Can Expect Initially When Reaching Out To A Real Estate Agent

Anyone who has ever called and worked with a real estate agent knows agents have lots of questions that are to be answered. This is to be expected. 

Agents need to know they are working with a ready, willing and able buyers. Agents also need to know how to help buyers and these questions are important steps to ensuring proper care of buyers. As an agent myself, I don't want to waste anyone's time. And with this probably being one of the biggest financial purchases in one's life I need to know, just as a buyer needs to know, that they want to work with me and vice versa. 

In the past, especially when I first started working in real estate, I would get so excited when a buyer called that I would stop everything and head out to the home they called me on. I was so worried about disappointing them that I showed them everything they wanted to see without really asking them what they were looking for and without qualifying them. 

Once I got past the emotional roller coaster of figuring out how I would run my business I found myself working smarter and more efficiently thanks to some simple changes. For instance, I recently started meeting buyers for coffee or at my office when we make contact. I no longer run to meet people to show houses without an initial consultation. And to my surprise I rarely get people who object to this and 90% of the time people do make the appointment. Its wonderful. 

During the consultation I go over the buyers real estate goals, their buying power, and documentation. It is important to understand what the buyer is look for and how they plan on paying for the home. But even just knowing the basics of this is sometimes not enough. So I do go into depth. See below for the questions I ask and understand I have a system. I have my basic questions I ask over the phone so that when we meet up I can show them some options pretty fast and then I tend to narrow that down based on the answers I get to other questions. And introducing documentation that requires signatures is much easier when sitting down in a quite relax environment versus on the hood of my car or a kitchen countertop. Don't you think?

Purchasing a home is a very emotionally journey and agents need to know what questions to ask and to ask delicately. And of course they must listen. And any agent that does not ask questions (the right questions) is not an agent you should be working with because by asking questions an agent will quickly know whether or not they can help a buyer meet their real estate goals. Or at the very least they will be able to adjust a buyer's expectation by educating them. Here are questions I ask and why I ask these questions....lets first start with some of my qualifying questions.

My Questions To Qualify Buyer (asked over the phone during initial contact and then again in person) The Why (Important Because)
Who are the decision makers? I need to know this so I can plan properly. For instance, will the decision maker be present during all showings/appointments or will the decision maker want to be present only after someone they know says the home has potential.
How long have you been looking for a home and when do you need the closing to occur by? Now? 6 months? Or one year? This helps determine how intense we need to be when we go house hunting.  For instance, if you are not needing a home for another 9-12 months we will not go out all the time looking. But if you need a home in the next 3-5 months will will hit the road pretty strong. And if you need something in the next 1-3 months we will be very aggressive. 
Are you working exclusively with an agent and what are your thoughts to working exclusively to me? Please explain what qualities in an agent are important to you? This is important because this will help prevent potential disputes in the future between agents. If a buyer says they are working exclusively with another agent then I will step back. To me it is not worth stepping on anyone's toes. But if they are not then I need to know if they have any objections. I tend to require a contract immediately but understandably some buyer get nervous about this and want to see how I work and make sure this is a good fit. I don't object to this. 
How will you be paying? Mortgage or Cash? I need to know this because I will have tons of other questions that will come after I find out if they are cash or mortgage buyers. Plus, there are homes out that that are not candidates for certain loans. For instance, if a home needs a lot of work it may not qualify for an FHA loan and if the extent is massive for work to be done maybe a conventional loan is out of the question too. There are homes that require rehab loans. 

Here are some other reason for needing to have this conversation and what I will need to proceed.


----I WILL need proof of funds (i.e. bank statement or letter from bank showing they can make a purchase for "x" amount).
----I will not place a cash offer without proof of funds because the offer will not be taken seriously. Sellers and their listing agents expect all cash offers be accompanied with proof of funds. 

----I will need a pre-approval (this is different form a pre-qualification).
----I will not place an offer where financing is required with out a pre-approval.  Sellers and their agents expect all cash offers be accompanied with proof of funds. 

I will need to know the following about a buyer's mortgage:
----Who is the lender? I will let the buyer know I will be reaching out to the lender.
----How much were you pre-approved for? 
----What taxes were you cleared for with the max purchase price?
----What type of loan were you pre-approved for?
----What down payment will you be making?
----What is the date on the pre-approval? I will the buyer know that pre-approvals are good for about 3 months.

Once the potential buyers answers the above questions I will move to the fun least to me these are more fun. =)

My Questions To Figure Out What The Buyer Needs (some asked over the phone during initial contact) The Why (Important Because)
Where do you want to live? I need to know which neighborhoods, areas, or cities/towns/villages to focus on. It also sometimes helps to know which neighborhoods are not of interest.
How many bedrooms and bathrooms are needed? This is especially important because there is a vast amount of inventory and this will illuminate many homes that will not work. For instance if someone insists on 5 bedrooms then taking them to a home with 3 bedrooms would be foolish. 
How much space (sq ft) is needed? Knowing how much space is needed for the buyer to live comfortably is so important. Sometimes a buyer will have no clue at the beginning but as time goes on they may inform me that a home with less that 2000 square feet will be too small and a home with 4000 square feet will be too big. 
How much yard is needed? This is another important aspect that can help narrow down housing options. If a buyer does not care then that is easy. But that is rarely ever the case. Most buyers will drive up to a home and know immediately if the house is a candidate just based on the yard. Is it too big or small? This is why it is important to have this conversation immediately. 
What parking needs are there? And parking is no different. It is sometimes the deciding factor to loving or hating a home. Many people need a garage, while others may be okay with a driveway, assigned parking, or street parking.
What condition of the home is acceptable versus not acceptable? Not every buyer will be turned off by a home in poor condition and not every buyer wants a home that they won't be able to make their own. Some buyers are handy and some aren't. Some buyers will have a budget for remodeling and others won't. Some want a home that is move in ready and others don't care. 
Anything else I should know? Oh this is important. I hear things like I need a finished basement, I need to be within 5-10 minutes walking to a train station, I only like colonial homes, I don't like anything with a pool or I need a home in a corner lot. 

And finally I will be asking about the buyer's availability to speak on the phone and to go out to see homes and how they prefer to be contacted. 

My Questions to Buyer about Availability and Preferred Contact Method
Is there a preferred time of the day I should call?
Any time constraints for making appointments? 
Any preferred times/days for booking appointments?

I could probably go on and on about this and honestly my way of running my business is evolving all the time. And it may be drastically different from other agents. This is what works for me today. I like to think that I am growing and learning everyday how to be a better real estate agent. Things that work today may not work later and of course there are exceptions that pop up from time to time. For instance, sometimes I don't ask about parking because I know the buyer does not have a car and other times I am contacted by a mortgage lender with a lead so my initial qualifying questions may have to be edited a little. 

Valerie Martinez-Friedberg Headshot
Phone: 914-839-0459
Dated: January 21st 2015
Views: 1,622
About Valerie: ...

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