As a new real estate agent, you’ll be tempted to take on every prospect who comes along — but talk to a more experienced Realtor, and they’ll tell you horror stories about accepting a client prematurely, only to find out they’re an absolute nightmare.
Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran, it’s important to know where you stand before entering into a relationship with a lead. Here are a few questions every real estate agent should ask prospective client.
Are they working with another agent?
We’ve heard stories of buyers calling in a new agent simply because their current realtor had been unreachable for a few hours. Not that this is always the pushy client’s fault — after all, most consumers aren’t real estate experts themselves, which means they don’t always appreciate the ins and outs of agency agreements.
Regardless of whether they’ve signed anything, taking on a client who has committed to someone else is a bad idea. At best, you’ll best be stepping directly on your local colleagues’ toes; at worst, you may be violating local laws, risking fines and jeopardizing your license.
Are they financially qualified?
This isn’t just about your bottom line: asking clients about their financial circumstances is a great way to separate window shoppers from serious buyers. If you’re on the buyer side, ask your prospects if they’ve been pre-approved for a loan; if you’re on the seller side, find out how much equity they have in their home.
Nevertheless, just because a prospective client isn’t pre-approved doesn’t mean you should kick them to the curb. If they seem serious, you can always point them to a lender you trust who can help you close quickly when the time comes.
What are their expectations?
This goes for everything: their budget, your schedule, the state of the market, the inventory in the area, etc. Many clients will need a little education up front to calibrate their perspective with the facts. Realistic benchmarks will save you the trouble of showing them properties they can’t afford and give you ideas about what areas and home styles to focus on.
If after that education a client continues to ask way too much of you, chances are they won’t become any more cooperative as time goes on.
Why is now the right time to move?
This question can provide a lot of insight on your client. For one, some people begin looking for an agent long before they can actually sell, while others wait until the last minute. Asking about timing will let you know how many hours you can expect to work before you can close a sale.
Furthermore, the clearer your clients’ reasons for moving, the easier the deal will be for you. A client who just had triplets will be far more motivated to do what it takes to close on a home than one who’s just looking for a change of scenery.
What have their past experiences with agents been like?
If your clients’ previous real estate experience has been positive, you can expect more confidence in your process. If it’s been mostly negative, you may have some hurdles to jump in order earn that trust.
On the flip side, this question provides an opportunity to learn from the mistakes of those who’ve come before you. If a client complains that their last agent didn’t communicate well, or wasted their time on showings they weren’t interested in, you’ll know which areas to focus on in building a great working relationship.