Qualifying is an essential step in house sales.
You need to know whether a buyer can buy your home to avoid both time-wasting and getting your hopes dashed.
You want to be able to spot the difference between the time wasters and the go-getters and ensure that you work your magic on the right buyer.
In my experience, sellers do not feel comfortable asking qualifying questions, yet they are fundamental to a sale.
I understand that some people think that asking a stranger about their financial status is intrusive. However, when asked in conversation and context, it needn’t appear strange or nosey. Moreover, one thing’s for sure; you can guarantee any serious buyer will have plenty of questions ready to ask you!
Qualifying for success: Then eleven questions you need to ask buyers
Here are my eleven questions to qualify buyers.
Is your house for sale?
I don’t think there’s anything mildly wrong with dropping this question into a conversation. Of course, the answer is beneficial for you when it comes to determining how likely and how soon a buyer is going to snap up your property.For instance, some buyers might have already sold their house and are waiting to find their dream property, while others don’t have their property on the market or, will only put it on the market when they find the home they want to buy.
Are you buying this as an investment property or, something to live in?
The answer to the first question might tell you the answer. However, you might find that you still need to ask. Many people buy property as an investment, and the good news is that if a buyer is going down this route, you don’t need to wait around for them to sell. This is a perfect result for those who are in a rush to move. Buyers only buy for one of these two reasons, so if they can’t answer this question, sound the alarm.
Do you have finance approval from a bank or reputable lender?
It’s a biggie. I know some sellers balk at the thought of asking this question but, when worded correctly it shows a buyer that you’re serious about them and about moving. If a buyer has the finance in place to buy your home, they won’t mind saying. If they have, it means they could be YOUR buyer, and you can then dazzle them with your beautiful house. On the flipside, it will be evident if a buyer is wasting your time or, hasn’t got that far down the track.
Are you looking on your own, or with somebody else?
It’s not unusual for one person to come along for an initial viewing despite there being more people involved in the decision-making process. And, although this second person is in the background on the first visit, you can guarantee that they become the one who calls the shots later down the track. Asking if a person is buying alone allows you to suggest another viewing or to tell the buyer about the next Open Home. You can also use space around this question to ask about the other person and whether they have particular needs or preferences.
Is there a reason why you’re moving?
While some people might be moving locally, others move to a new area simply because they like the look of it, have friends and family there or, fancy a change from where they currently live. For others, it’s because they need to be closer to their work, local schools, shops and transport links. It pays to ask because as well as being a source of handy information, you will begin to understand the buyer’s motivations. If for instance, a buyer is moving because of a new job it could suggest a timeframe in which they need to move. If the move is related to being close to a school, it’s likely to be tied to a deadline for enrolments or start dates. Have a dig around, and you can gauge how immediate a move the person needs to make.
How long have you been looking?
Some buyers who view your home might be fresh out the blocks. Your home could be first they’ve looked at, whereas for others they might have spent months searching and are possibly a bit ‘over’ the whole house-hunting scenario. Knowing how far into their search a buyer is, can determine how likely they are to buy. Of course, there are always exceptions to the rules, but in most cases, those new on the house-hunting scene aren’t going to rush into buying a property on day one.
Do you have any special requirements?
Buyers do their research, so it’s highly probable that they have already determined whether your property is suitable for their specific needs. If you can identify what it is that they need, you can pretty quickly work out if your home fits the bill. If they say they’re looking for a private airstrip and you live in the city centre apartment, the game is over. However, it could prove to be the moment to show your creative side. For instance, if the buyer is wanting to make a conversion or hopes to build another property on the excess land, you can give them some helpful insight. Showing an interest in a buyer’s future projects also makes a great impression. Who doesn’t love to talk about themselves?
Do they have a deadline to meet?
If a buyer has sold their house, they might already have a moving date. Alternatively, if they are currently leasing a property, they might have terminated their contract. These are all helpful clues when it comes to determining how soon a buyer is looking to move and, is also an ideal opportunity to mention how ‘in tune’ you are as you’re also keen to move by a set date.
Are you a first-time buyer?
Don’t judge a book by its cover with this one. I’ve met people of all ages who are first-time buyers purely through circumstances. If your viewer is a first-timer or has no property to sell, it means that they come without the complications of having to sell a home. They also come with the hesitation of parting with a tremendous amount of money and a huge debt that they will be paying off for years to come.
Is your buyer M.A.N enough?
Now hold on. Before you throw me into a pit with Donald, Bill and other notable misogynists, let me make myself clear.What is M.A.N? It’s my fast track and surefire way of knowing whether a buyer can buy. Use it to help you sort the wheat from the chaff and divide the qualified buyers from those tyre kickers.
M.A.N stands for Money, Authority and Need. Without all three of these, a buyer isn’t in the position to snap up your property. Noting this early can save you time and heartache.
For example, if a buyer doesn’t have the money to buy your house or, hasn’t secured the finance to do so, they can’t and won’t buy. It’s a shame for them and you, but it’s the truth. Move on.
Secondly, you need to find out if the ‘buyer’ is the one with authority. For instance, is the person looking at your home the person who gets the final say? I’ve mentioned this before; it always pays to ask if a viewer is a sole buyer. If there are other people involved, they will need to agree/disagree on the purchase.
Finally, when it comes to M.A.N, you want to know if your buyer has a ‘need’ to buy your property because needs come before ‘nice to haves’. So, ask your buyer, if they’ve recently sold their home. Find out if they need to move quickly. Perhaps their lease is up? Or, has the bank just given them the go-ahead to buy? These are all great signs.
What did you think of the house?
Now, this isn’t such a silly question, is it? Just a plain old ‘what did you think?’ as the buyer is about to leave. This will give you at least some indication of their thoughts or a feel for whether they’re warm or cold. If they are interested, you then have the go-ahead to make contact the next day to see if they’d like to view again. It pays to ask.
Finally, when it comes to questions, you might be surprised to discover how honest some buyers are. Buying a house is a massive investment, and so they are going to take it seriously. It’s one of those times when I remind clients that they need to remove emotion from the situation. Therefore, do not be offended if a buyer doesn’t like your home, or tells you they are thinking about it as an investment property or, that they want to knock it down and start all over again. You want to sell. You want to move on, and you want out. To get what you want, you need to sell.