Pre-listing Questions You Need to Ask SellersDec 20, 2022
Thank you for joining us for the most recent episode of Brilliant Talks, our free coaching program for real estate agents. Before we jump into the real estate side of things, I want to share with you some year-end thoughts that I’ve been pondering lately.
I talked to Renee Funk recently. She’s a great real estate agent out of Orlando, Florida, and we were talking about mindset. Our conversation got me thinking about auditing myself and my environment throughout the year.
As we are nearing 2023, a lot of us—whether we work in months, quarters, or years—are either winding down or winding up. Some of us haven’t stopped. And this is the perfect opportunity for us to think about doing an environmental audit.
What does that look like? It is about asking yourself some questions about the people around you, the books you read to continue learning, the media you consume daily, your eating habits, and the events and meetings you decide to invest your time in.
Which of those did you go to? Who are the people you hung out with? What did these events, books, or people you’ve met teach you? What are the things, or who are the people, you should have spent less time on? What about the things and people you wish you had invested more time in? What are your habits when consuming media—movies, music, shows, etc.? What about your eating habits? Have you been binge eating, or are you eating mindfully?
These are some of the questions that will help you get an objective view of the environment you create for yourself and choose to be in. And whether we like it or not, our environment has a great impact on our mindset. Our thoughts influence how we feel and how we act, and they shape us into the people we are.
So, if you think the person you are right now is still far from who you want to become, auditing your environment helps you identify what changes you need to make to get closer to your ideal self.
Asking the right questions helps us get there. I think it is a good idea for us to learn how to ask better questions.
Speaking of questions, let’s dive back into the real estate stuff. Jacob Steagall, one of my team's top performers, is with me today.
Let’s talk about listing. Specifically, pre-listing questions and post-listing follow-up.
If you are getting a listing, it is a great idea to ask your potential clients questions to get to know them and their needs better. The more you know and the more you listen, the better you can tell your story to your audience.
What are some questions agents forget to ask the seller pre-listing, and why are they important questions we should not forget to ask?
I got these questions from a book called Ninja Selling by Larry Kendall. It is a great book, and I recommend that you pick it up. Here are the things that I think we should all be asking the seller when we get a listing:
1. Have you spoken to an agent about selling your home?
A lot of agents are thinking, “If I ask that, the seller might start to think that they should interview other agents.” But the purpose of asking this question is not to determine whether or not your potential client is interviewing other agents, but rather, if they are, who are they?
Knowing who your “competition” might be helps you prepare better. Because then you will know what they have to offer and what they don’t do that you might be able to offer the seller. That gives you an edge over the possible competition.
2. Are you interviewing/Have you interviewed other agents?
When potential clients say “yes” to this question, I always follow up with “What is it about them that makes you want to interview them?”
This helps you better understand whether they know these agents, have worked with them before, or know someone who’s worked with them before—what type of history they have with these agents. Asking these questions also lets you know what the seller is looking for in an agent.
3. Why are you selling?
Knowing your client’s motivations is important. This helps you serve them better, and in the normal market we are now in, where homes stay on the market longer, it helps to remind them of their motivation when they start to feel discouraged by the waiting.
4. What are your plans after your home sells?
Are they looking to upsize, scale down, or move somewhere else? This helps you spot opportunities you would have otherwise missed because you didn’t ask questions.
5. How long have you lived in this home?
Depending on their answer, I also ask, “If you were the one looking to buy this home, what are some things you would like to fix?”
This tells us how they feel about the house or neighborhood, as well as the condition of the house. It also prompts the seller to look at their home objectively. If there are badly needed repairs that they haven’t done, they might need to either get them fixed or take that into consideration when setting the asking price or during negotiation.
6. Do you know what houses are selling for in this neighborhood?
This gives you an idea of how much they know about the local market. If they know of any houses that went up for sale and how much they sold for, or if they have no idea at all, it helps you know how much you need to educate them about the market.
7. What price did you have in mind for your home?
This question is one of the most difficult ones on the list.
When the seller has an idea of what the local market is like, they can give you a price similar to a house in the neighborhood. You can dive a bit deeper and ask what makes their home so expensive compared to the other homes in the neighborhood.
If you think the seller is not being objective with the price, you can nudge a bit and let them know what you think based on what you know about the market.
Some sellers will have no idea how to price their home, and they will ask you what you think is the appropriate asking price. In that case, tell the seller what you actually think, based on the information you’ve gathered so far about the house.
Jacob approaches it a bit differently, depending on what personality the seller has. For the more analytical types, you can present the statistics and comparative analysis data you have. But some sellers are leaning more toward the emotional side.
What Jacob does is present them with a range of prices that he thinks are appropriate for the property: one on the low end, one in the middle, and one on the high end. Then he lets the seller decide which category they think their home falls into.
The thing you don’t want to do when the seller asks you for the price is to bounce around. Because they are asking for a response. Be as objective as you can and be direct about it.
These questions look simple, and they might seem redundant, but the more information you have, the better you get to know your client—what personality they have, what motivates them, and what needs or pain points they have that you can meet. Also, asking these questions makes the other person on the line feel like you truly care and that you are actually there to help them.
It is important to itemize the questions you need to ask. Because, believe it or not, sometimes when we are on the phone with a lead or potential client, we are in a hurry, we are busy, and we forget to ask. Having a list that you can see helps you remember, “Oh, I haven’t asked this question yet.”
In the market we are in, homes are lasting much longer on the market, especially those that are priced high. Even if we do a great job, we will still end up losing some of the listings.
But here are some of the things you can do during the post-listing follow-up: I talked about this in a previous Brilliant Talks session, but here’s a quick breakdown:
After the listing is up, Saturdays and Sundays are usually busy. We do a lot of showings and open houses, and we get feedback from potential buyers that we meet with on those days.
On Monday, we called the seller to give them updates about the showings and calls we got about the home and what the common feedback was from those who showed interest in their property. We also give updates about the local market stats, and how their home compares to those stats.
On Tuesday, we sent out an email to recap what was discussed on the call.
We call them again on Thursday to provide updates on the marketing campaigns that have been run, how those campaigns are performing, the statistics we can glean, activities/engagement (especially for social media marketing), and any feedback or comments we have received. And we sent them another recap email of that call on Friday.
This communicates to your client that you are open and honest about the work you are doing to help them sell their home. It also helps you avoid getting a call from the seller asking you whether you are doing your job or not because you keep them updated consistently.
One of the common reasons why people have a negative experience working with real estate agents is the lack of communication. And for the seller, especially in this market we’re in, having a system in place for communication is something they appreciate.
Some last-minute tips…
It’s our job as business owners, salespeople, and real estate agents to set the tone of the conversation. Sometimes we get people who will yell at us over the phone and be mad, but it is our job to meet them where they are and bring them back to a space where we can have a conversation and listen to them.
That's why many agents look for scripts to use, methods like match-and-mirroring, NLP, and other techniques to help them communicate better. But remember that those are just tools, and those tools work to a certain degree if we can use them appropriately.
We do one-on-one and group coaching with some agents on how they can use those communication tools effectively. If you are interested in joining us, feel free to reach out to me.
But at the end of the day, business is all about building relationships. One thing we’ve removed from all the scripts that we learn and all the techniques we employ is the human factor of vulnerability.
When you reach out to people as people and show them that you are there to help because you care and are vulnerable—like you are not perfect, but you will give it your all—others will be attracted to your energy because you are being authentic. That’s one way of selling without selling.
Have an awesome day