By Barbara Pronin
Taking on new listings and prospecting for buyers are the backbone of a real estate agent's business. Experienced REALTORS® know there is much more involved than a written or verbal commitment, along with the drawbacks that come along with taking on clients prematurely.
To turn more opportunities into closed transactions, some seasoned agents ask these five questions to every potential new client:
1. Have you been working with another agent?
It’s not unusual for an impatient or oblivious client to call a second agent if the agent they’ve been working with isn’t immediately available. Asking this simple question of every new client can help you avoid not just stepping on a colleague’s toes, but potentially risking breaking local laws, incurring fines, or even putting your license in jeopardy.
2. Why is this the right time to move?
Some people begin looking for information long before they are ready to sell. Others, facing a job change or other special circumstance, may have not a moment to spare. The better you understand your client’s reason for moving, the easier it will be to determine an effective plan of action.
3. Are you financially ready?
Knowing a client’s financial circumstance is a good way to separate window shoppers from serious buyers and would-be sellers from the simply curious. If clients have not been pre-approved for a loan, but seem ready and serious, you can point them to a trustworthy lender and proceed with relative confidence. For sellers, it can be helpful to know how much equity they have in their home.
4. What are your expectations?
This goes for what clients expect of you as an agent as well as establishing realistic benchmarks about their budget limitations and their familiarity with inventory and the local market. Knowing the expectations in advance can save you lots of time and trouble in the long run.
5. What have your past real estate experiences been like?
Asking this question provides a great opportunity to learn from the mistakes of others. If a client’s previous experience has been mostly positive, you can be more self-assured going forward. If not, you know it will take extra effort on your part to earn the client’s confidence and trust.
Barbara Pronin is an award-winning writer based in Orange County, Calif. A former news editor with more than 30 years of experience in journalism and corporate communications, she has specialized in real estate topics for over a decade.