It happens all the time: you’re contacted by a potential seller. Maybe the seller was referred to you, you met at an open house, or she’s just gotten fed up with the FSBO route. Whatever the reason, you’re having a conversation about the possibility of listing the home.
You finish the home tour. What’s your next move? Like Clark Kent slipping into the phone booth, you need an instant transformation. No, we’re not suggesting a cape and blue tights, but you need to morph instantly from a Realtor to a consultant. Go into your interview mode, and win the real estate listing interview by asking these eight important questions:
1. May I ask you a few questions? This puts you in control of the conversation, but it also flatters your potential client. Everyone loves to tell their story, and you’re leaving that door wide open. Bring your questions with you in written form, and write down notes as you talk. This lets the clients know they are being heard.
2. What’s the approximate value of your home? No surprise—most people think their home is worth a lot more than it is. At this point, don’t get into a back-and-forth about asking price, and certainly don’t disagree with the client’s perception of value. Simply write down the number they give you. Before you get to the point of setting a sales price, you need to establish a level of trust with the client.
3. How much do you currently owe on the home? This, of course, is a critical question in the interview process. You need to know how much flexibility you have to work with. If the seller is underwater, for example, it’s a totally different scenario from someone who has five years left on a 30-year mortgage. Which leads you directly into the next question:
4. Why are you planning to sell your home now? This information goes directly to the client’s attitude and state of mind. Are they being transferred due to a job change? Are they downsizing for age or financial reasons? Is there a neighborhood problem they are trying to get away from? Their answer gives you important information about the degree of urgency the client is feeling, which could range anywhere from “I’ve got to be out of here in 30 days,” to “I just want to put it on the market to see what happens.”
5. On a scale of 1 – 10, with 10 being perfect, how would you rate the condition of your home? You’ve probably picked up some of the answers to this question during your walk-through, but you need to know the client’s perception and how willing they are to make repairs or cosmetic upgrades.
6. How does your home stack up in comparison to others in the neighborhood? Of course you can find this out simply by driving the neighborhood, but this question encourages the client to talk about neighborhood pros and cons, as well as providing information about other homes that may be on the market or about to be.
Right now you’re probably thinking you could get most of this information from public records, and that’s true. And you should look up that information before going to the real estate listing interview. However, the actual answers the client gives you are less important than the fact that you are creating a consulting relationship and setting yourself up as a subject matter expert that the client can trust.
7. What are you looking for when you choose a Realtor? Now the clients will likely tell you a whole lot about what kind of marketing plan and effort they will expect from you, what kind of communication they hope for (email once a week vs. daily phone calls!) and even good or bad experiences they have had with other Realtors.
8. What problems would you anticipate in the selling process? This final question gives you a great opportunity to continue in your consulting role as you are able to make recommendations for problem solving on the spot. It may also allow you to identify any areas of conflict between the sellers themselves (if they are a couple). He loves the old homestead and she wants out of the neighborhood ASAP, for example.
Now you’re probably wondering—when do you get a chance to talk about yourself, establish your credentials? The answer: you bring a one-page bio sheet with your listing and sales record, background, certifications, and other relevant information. Whether you sign a listing agreement immediately or set up a time to get back together, you’ll leave that behind as a lasting impression — you are not just the Realtor. You are a consultant who listens.
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