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Sellers: Why it’s Important to Pre-Screen Your Buyers

I’m sure you probably know by now that it’s a fantastic time to sell your home. With record-low inventory and a constant stream of new buyers coming into the market, home values are rising and sellers are continuing to see multiple offers on their homes in very few days on market. Selling in a market like this is exciting, and incredibly lucrative, and if you’re thinking of putting your home on the market, I highly encourage you to take advantage of these great conditions.

With a huge influx of buyers, it can be challenging to know for sure you’re choosing the right one to purchase your home. It’s important to make sure that the buyers who are touring and making offers on your home are vetted by your Realtor® and fully qualified to close. Last week, my colleague, Merigan Barton, wrote a great post on VA buyers and how it’s important for a buyers agent to establish a relationship with the listing agent in order to give their offer a competitive advantage over the rest. Well the same is true for listing agents – it’s vital that you or your listing agent interviews and gets to know each buyers agent that plans to bring a buyer through your home. Here are some questions I ask every buyer and buyers agent on my listings:

Why are you moving?

This question speaks to motivation and experience. Is this the buyer’s first home purchase? Are they moving from another town? Buying a vacation home or investment? Is this an international buyer? Going through a divorce? The circumstances of a buyers move can help me better anticipate things that might come up once the home is under contract.

What’s your timeframe to move?

As a seller, you want to make sure that the person who buys your home is on the same page as you regarding their possession date. If a buyer is looking to close in 10 days, but you don’t have anywhere to move and can’t get out of the home that quickly, it’s important to address that in the contract, or avoid that buyer all together.

What are your 5 must-haves in your home?

I once had a buyer and agent show up to a listing of mine, and the buyer had to be on at least 1/2 acre of property. I knew even before they walked in the door that this was not the house for them as it was a standard-sized lot. The showing was a waste time for all of us. You need to know – before the buyers enter the home – that your home has most if not all of the must-haves on the buyer’s list.

Are you purchasing with cash or are you borrowing money?

Knowing if the purchase is going to be cash, conventional, VA, FHA, or private mortgage gives me a better idea of how the transaction is going to flow once the home is under contract. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, and the parties involved and timing are different. As a seller, it’s important to be prepared for all the steps involved in the process.

Are you pre-approved and if so, who is your lender? For cash buyers, can you provide a proof of funds and who you bank with?

This is probably the most important question you can ask a buyer before they enter your home. This is really just a way to ask for proof that the buyer can afford to purchase the home. For borrowers, a pre-approval (not pre-qualification) is necessary. If you have a cash buyer, you need to get a proof of funds before considering an offer. Especially for my luxury listings, nobody enters the home without proof of funds or bank pre-approval. An experienced buyers agent in this market will have this on-hand before even showing homes to a buyer. Furthermore, I like to call the bank and verify the information in the approval letter prior to the first showing.

As a listing agent, I love a local lender and a local bank. While many prefer to use national lenders like Wells Fargo, Quicken, or Chase, I’m always on the lookout for buyers who are savvy enough to know that a local lender is going to make for a smoother transaction 9 times out of 10. Local lenders are easier to get hold of, have a better pool of local and market-specific appraisers, and tend to turn things around more quickly. They also tend to care more about the buyer and want to make it a good experience for everyone. Reputation matters to local, smaller lenders, and that is a big plus as you approach the closing table. Same with local banks. If something happens with a wire, or something is needed at the last minute, it’s much easier to get a local bank to move quickly to resolve the issue.

Get to Know the Buyers Agent

I also make sure to get as much information as I can on the buyers agent I’ll be working with, and to try to establish a good working relationship from the beginning. When I have good rapport with a buyer’s agent, the entire transaction is easier…even when there are hiccups. My end goal is for my sellers to have the best experience possible selling their home, and an inexperienced, unskilled, or inattentive buyers agent can make a deal go sideways fast.

The end goal here is to make sure that, as a seller, you make it from list to contract to close with as little hassle and stress as possible. The more questions you or your agent ask up front, the easier it is to anticipate speed bumps and handle opportunities before they arise. I’d love to help you navigate the process. Reach out to me anytime for more tips, or click here to find out what your home could sell for in today’s market.

If you’re looking to buy, it can be a huge advantage to get out of your home before selling it! Get pre-approved to buy before you sell with a lender who will be in constant communication with you and your Realtor®. After years of working with many different lenders, our team has partnered with America’s Money Source so that our buyers have access to the best lending team possible.

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