Enjoy the Connect experience from your computer, laptop or tablet! Watch Connect now.
Not a Select member? Join Inman Select today and save 25 percent on an Annual membership, plus get instant access to a live stream of Connect. Use promo code: icsf15 at checkout. SIGN UP NOW.
- The various reasons agents don’t take the time to qualify and verify buyers.
- The potential risks and pains for sellers when agents don’t qualify buyers.
- Five ways to improve upon your buyer qualification skills.
Top producers generate sufficient leads to service their business. They can usually choose to work only with those prospects willing and able to make an offer, by screening out those that will suck their time and energy with limited potential reward.
Qualifying is one of the best-kept time management secrets of a successful real estate agent, and with enough leads and potential prospects, the less crap an agent has to tolerate.
But one of the hardest things to get right — in any sales job — is that of qualifying prospects. It’s a process of asking leading questions, listening and interpreting the answers with a combination of intuition and empathy.
Just from an agent safety point of view, everyone should be qualified, and their photo ID verified — and not just the males. Let’s not forget a female was just convicted and sentenced to 30 years for last year’s murder of Beverly Carter.
So, let’s discuss the reasons agents don’t qualify buyers, the possible harm it does to sellers and how you can improve your qualifying techniques. So why is it that so many agents are willing to drop everything and show unqualified and unverified prospects a home without so much as a blink of an eye?
- Struggling agents: In many markets, a majority of MLS subscribers sell fewer than two or three homes a year. Unfortunately, many of these commission-starved agents are still prepared to take unnecessary safety risks in showing homes to unqualified prospects.
- Fear: If I don’t show this home right now, the prospect will just call the next agent until he finds someone to say yes.
- Greed: Agents hope they might make an easy sale and a quick commission.
- Poor training: They might lack actual training and practice of the qualifying process. The rationale behind qualifying and verifying the ID of a prospect might not have been properly explained to them.
Seller safety issues
Unqualified buyers are a possible security risk. Items can go missing during the showing, or windows or doors can be unlocked by the potential buyer, so he can return later to take what he wants.
At the same time, sellers might get overwhelmed by the constant demands of aggressive buyer’s agents trying to fulfill the wishes of strange prospects responding to on-demand, Uber-like instant-showing offers by Redfin and others.
It can take anywhere between one and four hours to prepare and clean a home correctly. Sometimes we have to wait for a seller to finish eating, organizing, taking care of kids, etc., before showings. The seller then has to leave the home — sometimes for hours at a time.
Sellers, who are giving up part of their equity to fund our commissions, are inconvenienced for every showing and deserve more consideration from our industry. Isn’t it raising the bar to only show homes to qualified prospects and not just any old Tom, Dick or Harry who insists they want to look right now?
Here are some suggestions improve your qualifying techniques:
1. Read a book or two. If you think qualifying is “icky,” start with “Prospect with Soul for Real Estate Agents” by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn.
2. Consider signing up for coaching or training from a reputable company such as Dirk Zeller or Tom Ferry.
3. Take a class. If none are available locally, ask your broker to put one together.
4. Make it part of regular weekly sales meetings.
5. Team up with a colleague and role-play. Practice until it becomes natural.
Agents are not doing themselves or their prospects any favors — even in the hot seller’s market in many parts of the country. The unqualified or unverified buyer will probably miss out in a multiple-offer situation, or they could fall in love with a home they cannot afford, completely wasting everyone’s time and energy.
So what to do with all the tire kickers, nosy neighbors and the unqualified? This might be the one time that open houses (staffed by at least two people for safety) could make sense. Potential buyers can come around when they aren’t so much of a nuisance.
Peter Toner is a third-generation real estate agent and founder/developer of VerifyPhotoID.com, a safety app that verifies with just a prospect’s phone number, the identity of prospects before they meet with an agent in three simple steps.