SIMPLE QUESTIONS HELPING BUYERS FIND THE RIGHT HOME
It’s a given that real estate agents strive to help homebuyers find their perfect home. While concessions often need to be made, having answers to a few simple questions about the buyer accomplishes several important objectives. As the agent, it helps you pinpoint what the buyer thinks he or she wants in a home. This may change as the process moves forward but a simple questionnaire starts the process. It nudges the buyer towards thinking about questions he or she may not have been considering. Overall, the questionnaire saves both you and the buyer time and frustration when you can narrow down the types of houses, neighborhood, and other specifics to closely match what the buyer is looking for.
Just as importantly, it shows your interest in serving the client rather demonstrating arrogance by assuming you know what is best for them.
There is less to a buyer’s questionnaire than handing the buyer a six-page document with 38 questions and asking him or her to fill it out. Especially for a first time buyer that may already be intimidated with this major life decision. Asking a bunch of questions that they haven’t given much thought about can add to the intimidation.
Some people really don’t like dealing with paperwork. Instead of handing them the questionnaire and quietly keeping an eye on them for 15 minutes while they write out answers, keep the process interactive. Bring the form up on your computer and tell them that asking a few questions helps you find them the house they are looking for. You ask the questions and type the answers into the form. Besides being more interactive, this allows you to ask clarifying questions when the answers are a little vague.
Highlights of a Simple Questionnaire
- Avoid asking too detailed questions. Seldom do you need to know how many children they have and about pets. Keep the questions at the real estate level by asking how many bedrooms and bathrooms. Too detailed questions include the type of work they do or current living conditions.
- Don’t ask for more contact information than you need. A mailing address, one telephone number, and one email address should do it. Of course, if they offer more take note of it.
- Avoid open-ended questions. In most situations you want to ask open-ended questions but not here. Answers to these can feel like an invasion of privacy and run on for some time. Ask closed-ended questions about approximate square footage, number of bathrooms, formal dinning space, yard size, and if a garage or basement is desired. Do look for opportunities to help them better understand the real estate language. For instance, first time buyers may not really understand the scale difference between a 900 square foot home and a 2,500 square foot home. Similarly, they may not understand the difference between a ½ bath and a ¾ bath.
- Ask if there is anything else they want to add.
Sample Homebuyer Questions
Here are a few sample questions to keep this short and easy.
- Do you have a specific neighborhood in mind?
- Do you have a home you need to sell first?
- Have you arranged financing? What is your maximum price?
- Do you prefer one story or two?
- Are there any other specific features you are looking for?
There are certainly other questions that you want answers to such as preferred school district, shopping convenience, suburban or urban living, etc. Instead of making all of this a long formal process, you can include these questions on the form but ask them through casual conversation as your relationship matures. Remember they might not have thought about these so let them know a later answer would be fine after they have a chance to think about it. One question you want to ask after showing a couple of houses (or reviewing the MLS with them) is if they think you are on track with the type of home they are looking for? And then fine tune things from there.
Please comment on your approach to getting to know a new client.
Author bio: Brian Kline has been investing in real estate for more than 35 years and writing about real estate investing for ten years. He also draws upon 37 plus years of business experience including 12 years as a manager at Boeing Aircraft Company. Brian currently lives at Lake Cushman, Washington. A vacation destination, a few short miles from a national forest. In the Olympic Mountains with the Pacific Ocean a couple of miles in the opposite direction.
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