Chapter 5: Working with Buyers
« Lesson 2: New Buyer Meetings »
We LOVE meeting with buyers in person at a coffee shop to go through this process; it’s a really great way to establish the relationship and get to know each other. If you’re meeting with a stranger for the first time and you feel weird about it, safety first! Meet in public before meeting them alone at a house or take someone with you! DO NOT meet a new buyer at a house after dark, in general do not show houses after dark, especially those that may not have power and/or are vacant. If you feel even a tiny bit weird about meeting someone, trust your gut!
Set buyer expectations
Buyers get information from lots of sources, not all of which are great. They may hear from HGTV, coworkers or family members who had a different experience than you’re going to give, or someone who hasn’t bought a house in 20 years. You want to show that you’re the expert here and you’re going do your best to make sure your buyer has an amazing buyer experience, so you’ll need to lead the conversation and teach them what to expect.
Depending on what is going on in the market, their price point, what they are shopping for, their timeline, etc., explain to your buyers about how long it takes to find a house, get an offer accepted, and then close on it. Go through the Contract to Close Timeline with them so they understand what will happen after they get an offer accepted. Let them know how long most houses are on the market before accepting an offer (is it a quick sale market and they’ve got to offer NOW, or do buyers have time to think it over?).
Let them know what condition houses in their price point and search area might be in. Explain that no house is perfect, and that no matter how much money they have to spend, they’ll never find the perfect house. Explain why home inspections are important and how negotiations during an inspection period go (buyers should request the MOST IMPORTANT items to be taken care of by sellers, not a laundry list of small items, and sellers do not have to agree to any repairs).
Find out when they are available for showings and see what works for your schedule. Let them know that if for some reason you cannot get them out to see a house, you’ve got a bunch of amazing agents in your office that have your back and will step in to help out.
Ask them what questions you haven’t answered. Find out how they prefer to communicate (text/call/email) and let them know how soon they should expect a response from you.
Here are my thoughts on the first buyer meeting
Have you met with the bank yet? Did they give you a preapproval letter? What price range are you shopping in? Get lender contact info if they are preapproved OR send preferred lender recommendations. It’s not a great use of anyone’s time to show houses before your buyer is preapproved. Use your judgement, but as a general rule, get preapproved before showing any houses.
When are you hoping to be all moved into your new place? Establish timeline to determine how soon you need to get them out to see houses and how hard you need to be looking at the moment.
What are your basic minimum requirements? Location, max price, minimum bed/bath/garage etc. What would you LOVE to have? What are you hoping for but don’t need? Remember these things and point them out when you’re in houses.
What are you hoping to avoid? Remember these things too and try not to book showings for houses with these things. HOWEVER, sometimes what people think they want/don’t want changes so be flexible.
Agency Relationships in Real Estate Transactions. Give this to them before you leave. Explain the doc and let them know it’s not a contract, just a disclosure. Let them know they do not *need* to sign it now, but can if they wish.
Agency Relationships in Real Estate Transactions
Set Up their search:
- MORE INFO HERE!
- Map area, max price or working price range (usually don’t put a lower end limit on unless buyer is shopping in a higher price range ie 300-600).
- Minimum bed/bath/garage/acreage etc. Set the least amount of search criteria as possible to return the most results for buyers.
- Hit save, new auto email, enter client info, set email frequency. Type a note asking them to sort with the heart, lightbulb, and trashcan. Let them know if they see something they like on Zillow or realtor or whatever to send you the address or MLS or a link and you can check on it’s availability for them.
Get them out to see some houses. Don’t wait too long on this. If you’re not showing them houses someone else will! It’s usually best to see a few the first time out (four to six if possible). It will shorten their learning curve. More than six houses start to blur together and then you need to worry about snacks/bathroom breaks. If you only take them to see one house at a time they have nothing to compare to and it will take longer to find them a house. Sometimes their availability is the limiting factor and you can only do onsie twosie showings…do what works but keep this in mind.
- MORE INFO HERE!
- Pull up all properties the buyer requested to see, show on a map. Browse through them to make sure they are a good fit for the buyer (not a short sale if buyer is in a hurry, right price point, actually still for sale, etc)
- Book showings and make sure all are approved.
- Confirm starting spot with buyers.
- Before you head out for showings, confirm again that all booked properties are still on the market.
Make sure you have a full tank of gas and a fully charged phone. Showing houses BURNS through battery life. Buy a mobile charging brick and keep it in your car, charged.
When you arrive at the house you should have the following apps pulled up on your phone:
- Apple Maps or Google Maps
- Google is TERRIBLE with new construction but fairly okay with everything else with the exception of rural areas. If you’re not familiar with an area, be sure to cross check your GPS with the MLS map to make sure you’re going to the right place.
Unlock the door and then open the listing in HomeSpotter so you have any info your buyers need at your fingertips. TURN ON ALL LIGHTS. This can be done as you go through the property, or if you beat your buyers to the first house, go in and get them on ahead of time. Open blinds if they are pulled. Give the house as much light as you can. You should spend a few minutes looking at the listings you’ll be seeing before you set them up so the houses are familiar but you don’t need to do a ton of research before you know the buyer is interested. If you find something they like, you will do the research after they see the house.
When you’re in a house with buyers, try to be quiet and allow them to experience and judge the place for themselves. It’s not about what you like and you don’t have to ‘sell it’ usually. Be able to answer questions, and help them see what the place could be. Point out what features they said they are looking for or wanted to avoid but you don’t want to influence their decision. Remember, they are buying it, not you. They know what they like. Your job is to inform them about the process and facilitate the transaction, you do not make decisions for them or pressure them in any way.
You should be able to tell if they like it or not pretty quickly. Watch their body language. Listen to their comments. Ask them what they think about the space, the kitchen, the floor plan the finishings etc. Help them see what could be done if something doesn’t work for them, (changing flooring and paint or updating cabinets and appliances). Do some research so you have a frame of reference on cost for these things. DO NOT MAKE UP NUMBERS about price of renovations. Only share info you know from personal experience or other clients and always recommend they do their own research on that.
Make notes of questions they want answers to that are not available while you’re there. Sometimes you can text the listing agent while you’re in the house and get a quick response. Otherwise just call or email when you’re done. Some agents are really great at communicating, some are terrible. Most prefer text.
I don’t print listing sheets and most people don’t like or want them. It’s a bit wasteful. The people who want paper usually come prepared with it. Everyone else usually has it pulled up on their phones and you should too.
When you’re done showing. Turn off lights unless you’re asked not to. Lock all doors that you opened, don’t forget back doors. Lock up the front door, put the key in the lockbox and close the lockbox. You are responsible for securing the property after your showing. If another agent is showing at the same time you can hand the key off to them but make sure they are actually an agent.
Things you might encounter during showings:
- Agents who lock the house while they are in it (rude, don’t do this).
- Agents who lock the lockbox back up rather than handing the key off to you (also rude, don’t do this).
- If you’re showing a condo and there are overlapping showings, you may need to wait in the lobby until the other agent is done to get the keys since the entrance is secure. If you are listing a condo, make sure to set the ShowingTime to “no overlapping showings” to prevent this. (It’s a pain.)
- Strangers may walk up when they see you’re showing and ask if they can go in. Do not allow this. You can give them your card and have them call you to set up a private showing. Your attention should be on your client.
- Keys that don’t fit in locks: try the keys on all the doors, sometimes it’s a tight fit, but sometimes it’s actually the wrong key. Call the listing agent.
- Lockboxes that won’t open: if it’s a supra and you get an error code, Google the code and supra error codes and see what the lockbox is telling you. Some things can be fixed but shutting off your phone and starting it back up, then update your key and try again. Sometimes you are just out of luck. Call the listing agent and see if you can get a garage code or if the seller is close by to let you in. If it’s a manual lockbox, double/triple check your code, then call the listing agent to confirm. Lockboxes freeze in the winter and can be tough to get into. Sometimes you need to bang them against something to get them open, try not to damage the house, but use a rock or something to bang the lockbox if it’s frozen. Give it a fair effort then move onto the next house if you can’t get in.
- Doors that won’t open: Try not to break doors, but inevitably you will. I promise you that getting the doors/lockboxes open is the hardest part of this job. Do your best but don’t break a key off in a lock. Sometimes you need to push/pull the door. See if the key fits in another door. Call the listing agent.
Always do your feedback after showings. When you have listings you will want quick feedback from showing agents so do the same for them. Be nice in your feedback, be honest, but be nice. Feedback should be from your buyers perspective, not what you personally think about the house. Always keep in mind that sellers read the feedback so please don’t say anything to hurt their feelings. Try to be constructive if possible.
© Copyright 2018, Brick & Banister Real Estate Co.
Properties are provided courtesy of the Regional MLS of Minnesota, Inc., Broker Reciprocity Database.
Information Deemed Reliable But Not Guaranteed. ©2018 Regional Multiple Listing Service of Minnesota, Inc. All rights reserved.