We all talk about qualifying buyers and sellers. I hope, as the year folds into 2013, that you’ve made a goal of creating better qualifying methods. I hope you’re setting your standards higher for buyers and sellers. But, in addition, buyers actively qualify agents to figure out who to work with. (Or, if they just take any agent who comes along, they are disappointed because ‘the customer doesn’t know what he’s getting, until he doesn’t’.)
Why meeting buyer qualifying criteria is important: Buyers today have many choices of how to find homes. You need to create competitive reasons to help buyers choose you. It will save you time and money. And, if you’re a newer agent, creating solid reasons to help buyers choose you will increase your self-confidence 200%.
Five Critical Questions Buyer Should Ask Agent ‘Candidates’
Here are five critical questions I believe buyers should ask agents to assure they have a ‘match’ between what they are looking for and what the agent provides. In addition, I’ve added what I believe buyers should look for in the anwers (that means that we agents must be able to qualify on these terms). Finally, I’ve given you some tips to become the agent buyers love:
1. “Is selling residential real estate your full-time career?”
My advice to buyers: Listen to be sure the agent specializes in residential real estate. You want someone selling homes for a living, not apartment houses. Listen to see if this is the agent’s full-time career. Ask additional questions if the agent’s answers need more clarifying.
Tip to the agent: Be sure your mission statement and promotional statements clarify your areas of expertise.
2. “How many homes did you sell last year?”
My advice to buyers: You want someone successful; that means, at minimum, the agent sold homes to buyers at least six times in that year.
Tip to the agent: If you haven’t sold at least 6 homes this year, be ready to show the buyer how you are honing your expertise to compete with more productive agents.
3. “How long have you specialized in residential real estate in this area?”
My advice to buyers: Be sure the agent has been working in the area where you want to purchase for at least six months, so you know the agent has expertise and interest in that area.
Tip to the agent: If you haven’t worked in that area over a period of time, be sure to educate yourself so you’re working in the buyer’s best interests–and be able to explain that to a buyer.
4. “Describe the work you do in our price range and area.”
My advice to buyers: Listen to be sure the agent zeros in on the area and price range you need. If the agent says, “I work anywhere with anybody”, that agent may not be for you, for he may be trying to cover too much ground to know very much about specific areas.
Tip to the agent: Be sure you’ve focused your efforts through creating a mission statement. Be able to explain to the buyer how you’ve made yourself an expert in the area they want to explore.
5. “Tell us how you will work with us.”
My advice to buyers: Listen as the agent describes the buying process, as he views it. Does it reflect what you’re looking for?
Tip to the agent: Create a detailed, professional buyer process. Have that process in writing to show the buyer, to prove you can lead the buyer through that process.
Agents: Think These Criteria are Too Tough?
Did some of those questions and my advice to buyers make you defensive and argumentative? That’s because we agents tend to look at things ‘inside out’ (from our perspective). Instead, pretend you are a discriminating buyer. You’re going to spend $60,000 on a car. What kind of customer service do you expect? Now, think in terms of the real estate buyer. What kind of service should a real estate buyer expect?
Newer Agents: Panicked Because You Think You Can’t Qualify?
Relax. You don’t need to qualify on all terms. But, you need to have answers and explanations ready so you can provide buyers reasons to work with you. Advice: Educate yourself so that you are as well-prepared to help a buyer as an agent who has sold 100+ homes in his/her career.
A Resource to Help You Create your Plan
My new business planning program, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning, helps you create answers to the questions above. It guides you through the vision and mission process, and helps you set goals. See more here.