What kind of feedback do you get from your clients when you’re showing homes? Do they ever complain that the homes you show them don’t fit their vision? Are they impressed with how organized you are and how easy it is for them to compare the different homes you’ve chosen for them to see? Do they ever say they’re confused at the end of a day’s worth of seeing homes?
Showing homes to your clients is an art, and doing it successfully requires careful planning long before you ever arrive at a listing. If you know the secrets to showing homes successfully, you’ll make sales faster, create happier clients and get more referrals.
Secret No. 1: Don’t Skip the Buyer Interview
You get a call from a buyer interested in seeing one of your listings. You may be tempted to schedule a showing and jump right into showing homes. Sometimes the home buyer isn’t interested in doing anything more than that. However, if you skip the buyer interview, you’re going to be forced into the “trial and error” method of helping a client find a home. It will waste your time, your client’s time and take much longer than it should.
A better approach would be to schedule the showing, but arrange to meet the client at your office first. The buyer won’t know you’re conducting a buyer interview; it will just seem like a time to get to know one another. Here are the types of questions you need to ask.
- What made you decide to buy a home now? You’re looking for answers that will help you structure their search. Do they want to be in a larger home before a new baby arrives? Did the last child just move out and they want to downsize? Is a mother-in-law moving in and they need more room?
- Do you plan to live in this house for the long-term? Find out if they will view their next house as a “forever home” or a move to help them build equity for their dream house.
- How many houses have you seen? Expand this discussion to determine if the client has been working with other agents and if they’ve been searching the Internet. You can gauge how knowledgeable they are about the current market.
- Which lender are you working with? This will lead you into the financial discussion. If they’re not working with a lender, you can recommend one and ask them to get pre-approved. If they are pre-approved, you’ll know you have a strong buyer.
- What mortgage payment will you be comfortable making? Make sure the client understands the relationship between the home price and the associated payments. They may have been approved for a $500,000 mortgage, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically comfortable with the associated monthly payments. In addition, find out if they’ve included taxes, insurance and additional fees such as homeowner association dues in that monthly amount.
- What are you looking for in your next home? Ask the client to make a list of wants vs. needs. No one can find the perfect house. When it comes time to compromise, your clients need a clear vision of how those compromises will be achieved.
- What would be a deal breaker for you? Identify those things you need to rule out immediately. The answers can range from traffic noise to no pool, and no room for a pool.
- What are your favorite neighborhoods? This is a good way to talk about where they’d like to live. You can also explore the type of lifestyle they’ll be looking for.
- How would you feel if we found the perfect house tomorrow? Find out how serious your buyer is and uncover anything that might prevent them from making a decision.
Secret No. 2: Prepare Yourself for Showing Homes
If you want excellent showing feedback from your clients, you’ll need to get prepared to make the process painless for you and for your clients.
- Get a Buyer Representation Agreement signed. Have your buyer sign an agreement to work with you exclusively. Some agents don’t like asking for that signature, and some buyers don’t want to make that commitment. You can explain agency, and point out that the only way you can represent them completely is with an agreement; it’s in everyone’s best interest. If your buyer won’t enter into an agreement with you, you’ll need to decide if you want to take the chance that all your hard work will go unrewarded.
- Choose the right homes. There’s nothing that annoys home buyers more than being shown homes that don’t fit in their budget or meet the list of things they need to have in a new home. Make sure the homes you choose are all strong contenders. Preview the listings as needed.
- Plan your route. Drive the route you’ll follow the day before if you need to, but don’t make the mistake of getting lost or taking the “scenic route” between homes. You are the area expert and you need to illustrate that while you’re showing homes.
- Create a buyer guide. Create a copy of the guide for yourself and one for each person in the buyer’s party. It’s a good idea to include a clipboard and pen for writing notes. Include printouts from the MLS, subdivision information, neighborhood covenants and a map of the area with homes identified. Include anything you’ll need to answer questions, or the buyers will need to review later. More information is always better than less.
- Check your lockbox key. Make sure your key is updated and has a fresh battery, or carry a spare.
Secret No. 3: Prepare Your Buyer for Seeing Homes
The days when agents wanted to spend lots of time showing homes are long over. Gas prices, shorter buyer attention spans and the Internet have made it necessary and much easier to reduce the number of homes you need to show in person.
Prepare your buyers for seeing homes in person by creating a home buyer account on your MLS or your website listing feed. Send your buyers a list of all the available homes that meet their criteria and ask them to look through those listings to choose their top five homes.
Depending on the situation, you might also encourage them to drive by the homes on their own to get a feel for the neighborhoods and the homes from the outside. Another alternative is to schedule a time for you and your buyers to do the drive by tour together.
If the buyers question this approach, explain that the Internet is a tool you can all use to ensure that they’re spending their time wisely when they actually see homes in person. Doing the Internet research will help both you and the buyer narrow down what appeals to them in terms of home styles and environs.
You want to avoid a situation where you pull into the driveway for a showing and find that the buyers aren’t even interested enough to get out of the car. You’ll find that your buyers will want to avoid that situation, also!
Secret No. 4: How to Conduct the Perfect Home Showing
There are a number of things that you can do to help your buyer evaluate a number of homes, and start to seriously consider making an offer.
- Use a rating guide. Make sure your buyer guide includes a rating sheet that shows all the homes you’ll see that day. Include space for an overall rating for each home and a place for comments on what the buyer liked and didn’t like.
- Manage expectations. Don’t oversell a home before your buyer sees it. You may be setting them up for disappointment. On the other hand, don’t undersell either. Just because you don’t like a home doesn’t mean your buyer won’t love it.
- Help the buyers imagine themselves living in the home. If you chose to show this home, you’ll already know how you think the home will suit the buyer. You don’t want to do a hard sell, but it’s certainly helpful to point out the features you want to be sure they notice. For example, point out things they might miss, ask if they noticed the gas stove in the kitchen, or the fact that the first floor bedroom could easily be used for a mother-in-law suite.
- Debrief after showing each home. Take a few minutes with the rating guide and ask the buyer to describe the things they liked, didn’t like and assign an overall rating. After each home starting with the second showing, pose this question: “If you had to make a choice right now, would you choose this home over the others?”
- Narrow down the short list. Based on the response to the question in number four above, work with the buyer to narrow down the short list. If they love two of the five homes you viewed, get their agreement to remove the other three from consideration. You may need to show the two homes they love back to back on another day, but you may find that they’ll be motivated to write an offer!
Showing feedback from your buyers is critical, and if you have listings, it’s even more critical because it helps you respond to the market to get a listing sold. Automated showing feedback software for your listings can help you get useful feedback and saves time.
Getting positive showing feedback from your buyers isn’t difficult. When you know the secrets of showing homes successfully, you’ll do the right preparation and planning, and use technology wisely. In addition, you’ll hone your skills in guiding your buyers to help them find their dream home.