Today’s home buyers are armed with data and have the national search portals always just a tap away on their smartphone. They expect their agents to be local experts, to be tech savvy, to excel at contracts and negotiation and to deliver the customer experience they’ve come to expect from companies like Apple and Zappos. What’s more, they expect you to be one step ahead of the game – having the answers to questions and solutions to problems before they arise.
Sound overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. Know the answers to these critical questions to prove your metal to any home buyer, no matter how much pre-searching they’ve done. Whether you’re new to the industry or a seasoned real estate professional, our team at RealScout has put together a list of answers to critical home buyer questions that—when you nail the answers to—will prove you’re a rockstar real estate agent they can trust.
Question #1: “How do I determine how much I can afford?”
If you can help your buyer set an overall budget before beginning the home search, they will feel confident that they can afford their monthly expenses, avoid financial problems down the road and find a home that they’ll love. While many will have toyed with mortgage calculators and jotted down estimated payments, help them get a more accurate and personal assessment by working with a trusted mortgage professional.
Be prepared by having a list of recommended mortgage professionals that they can contact to get a realistic number. Take it one step further by including this recommendation list in your introductory package, and you’ll have anticipated their needs like a true rockstar agent.
Question #2: “How much should I offer to buy the home?”
We all know this is a tough one to answer; but it’s arguably the most important question in the entire transaction. There are so many factors to consider. You must help your clients understand that there are reasonable offers, competitive offers and the right offers – all of which can be different.
Many home buyers believe that they should immediately low-ball an offer; however, this may not be reasonable. A reasonable offer is one that carefully considers market data, how the property compares to others that have sold, and the buyers’ overall desire for the property.
A competitive offer, on the other hand, often means taking it a step further and considering other terms, in addition to price, that may give the buyers a leading edge. For example, can they make an all-cash offer? Can they include a pre-approval letter with their offer? Perhaps they can limit the amount of contingencies in the offer, or can close quickly with a sizeable earnest money deposit.
Lastly, advise your buyers that making the right offer is not an emotional decision – rather, one that is based on research and market data. When you provide your home buyers with comparable data, show them the competition and discuss the current market’s temperature, you’ll help them make a knowledgeable and informed decision – and will look like the rockstar agent you are!
Question #3: “We really love this house. How can we win a multiple-offer situation?”
Your clients have found the house they love – but so have three other buyers. When faced with a multiple-offer situation, today’s rockstar agents need to know how to make their client’s offer stand out. It’s important to remember that the listing agent needs to find the most ready, willing and able buyer to purchase the seller’s house, but they also need to make sure the deal is going to stick. Rockstar agents help their clients give the impression that if their offer is accepted, the seller will soon see the closing table.
Perhaps this means scheduling an inspection prior to placing an offer, giving your clients more knowledge of the home and making it easier to waive inspection contingencies. One of the best ways to communicate that your client’s offer has a better chance of sticking versus the competition’s is to improve its terms and limit its complexity. Offer more money down, attach a pre-qualification letter, shorten the due diligence period. We’ve even heard of buyers writing letters to the sellers expressing their interest in the house, their plans and how much their kids will love the treehouse out back.
Walk your clients through a multiple-offer situation all the way to the closing table by thinking outside the box.
Question #4: “What are our closing costs and how do I calculate them?”
This is a question that you can only partially explain; you’ll have to let the lender give the final word. Explain to your home buyers that closing costs are fees charged by those involved with the home sale, and are in addition to their down payment. This includes things like lending fees, title origination fees, fees charged by inspectors and appraisers, and the fees that local government offices charge for recording the dead.
A good rule of thumb is 2-5% of the purchase price, yet home buyers should always ask their lender for a copy of their HUD-1 statement, which will give them the final breakdown of costs associated with buying their home.
Rockstar agents also know that lenders will collect interest for the current month at closing. By setting the closing date later in the month, your clients can reduce the amount of interest collected. Closing in the beginning of the month means they’ll be paying the full month of interest, while closing towards the end of the month means paying just a fraction of that cost.
Help home buyers get more certainty by explaining typical charges for certain items, particularly if you’ve worked with the escrow and title companies in the past, and suggest smart ways to save.
Question #5: “What should I be on the lookout for in a home inspection?”
While most buyers know they need a traditional home inspection, where items like the electrical, HVAC and plumbing will be inspected, a rockstar agent will know to advise them of other types of inspections that may be standard in your local area.
A wood destroying organism inspection, for example, looks for termite infestation and damage. They may also need a chimney, lead-based paint, foundation, pool, septic system, soil stability or easement inspection.
Of course, these are just a few of the many critical questions that today’s home buyers may have. Have a favorite question that you wait for as your moment to shine? Share the question and your answer in the comments below. We want to hear from rockstars like you.
Andrew Flachner is Chief Real Estate Enthusiast at RealScout, the collaboration platform for agents and their clients.