Top real estate agents know that the key to serving their clients well is by getting to know them. After all, real estate is a people-centered business, and building relationships is what sets the great agents apart from the good ones. One of the easiest ways to get to know your clients and put together a plan is by asking them the right questions. Here are the seven questions you should ask every real estate client at the start of your professional relationship:
What is your ‘why?’
This is the most important question a real estate professional should ask a client. Understanding why they want to buy or sell will help you put together a plan that best suits their needs. Are they selling their home because they just landed their dream job across the country? Are they growing their family and need more space? Are they in a season of life where they want to downsize? Knowing these specifics will help you gauge their motivation to sell and allow you to focus on helping them reach their goals.
What steps have you taken so far?
This question helps you understand how much time and effort they’ve already put into the process. Have they been pre-approved? Have they started researching neighborhoods and areas that they’d like to live? Have they started making necessary home improvements to prepare their home to sell? If they haven’t taken any steps, dive deeper into why. Is it because they just don’t know what steps to take, or are they not serious yet about making this big life change?
Can you tell me about your vision?
A real estate agent is a lot of things, but they aren’t mind readers. Your job is to find your clients the perfect home for them, but you can only do that when you know what you’re looking for. Ask your client to give you a detailed description of the home they’re looking for. What kind of neighborhood do they want? Are they looking for single-family or multi-family housing? Are there schools or other places they need to be close to? What layout options and features of a home are important to them? If they’re not sure what they are looking for, it can be hard for you to find it for them.
What are your wants vs. needs?
When you’ve established that your clients are serious about moving forward, have them create a list of wants vs. needs when it comes to the home they’re looking for. What are things they must have, and what are things they would love to have but can live without? Remind your clients that sometimes real estate compromises must be made and that if they found a home with all of their “needs” they can always add a few of the “wants” down the road.
What are the deal breakers?
While you’re discussing what the client wants, open the discussion to what they don’t want. What are some things that are a definite deal-breaker? Maybe it’s living in an apartment vs. a house, or living in a two-story home. Knowing these “no’s” will help you eliminate properties and narrow search results down to the best matches.
This question is important for clients that are selling their home, too. What is the lowest price they will accept? What contingencies are they not willing to entertain? Knowing this upfront will help you make decisions on your client’s behalf.
What is your financial situation?
As a client advocate, you must be aware of the details of the client’s financial situation. What is their budget for a home? What is their down payment plan? Have they been pre-approved? What is their ideal range for a monthly mortgage? Are they aware of the extra costs and fees associated with buying/selling a property? Knowing their financial situation will help you narrow the search down to homes they can afford.
It’s also important to find out if there is any wiggle room in their budget. Their target purchase price may be $300,000, but if they find something they love for $350,000 will they go for it? Ask about what features (if any) would cause them to go over their initial budget.
What’s the best method of communication for you?
A top real estate agent is an expert communicator. But your preferred method of communication may not be the same as the clients. Ask about how they prefer their communication and the best times to reach them. You don’t want to be the one that calls every night when they’re distracted at a soccer game or business meeting. You also don’t want to send important info over email if they check their email infrequently.
Set expectations and boundaries about how and when you’ll communicate with them, and remain flexible and open to changes in this plan. Your goal is to keep your client in the loop, and knowing their preferred method of communication can help with this.
As you grow in your real estate career, you’ll learn the right questions that help build positive relationships with your clients. Another way to grow as a real estate professional is by investing in continued education. Mbition has online courses and classes geared toward new and seasoned agents to help them learn more about various aspects of the industry, including home inspection and the appraisal process.