Questions that estate agents should ask their clients

Private Property South Africa

The magic of selling a house to a buyer is knowing what exactly they want.

There’s nothing better for an agent than seeing the special smile on the face of a homebuyer who has just been shown – by you - the “perfect” property.

On the other hand, every agent knows how discouraging it is to spend a whole day with prospective buyers who simply don’t like anything you show them.

So, before you drive anyone to a viewing or sit them down to look at your online portfolio of listings, it is really worth taking the time to “interview” them and get a very clear picture of what they are looking for.

Location and amenities

“To start with,” says Shaun Rademeyer, CEO of SA’s biggest mortgage originator, BetterLife Home Loans, “you need to consider location – and not just the areas your buyers think they might like.

For example, ask how close to work they would like to live or if they need to be near family and friends, if they need public transport, and if they want to be within walking distance of shops and restaurants.

Lifestyle requirements

“Next you will need to enquire about lifestyle,” he says. “Are they looking for a low maintenance home in a gated development, a quiet suburban atmosphere or an area with a lively nightlife? If they have children, they will no doubt want to live close to good schools. If they are sporty, they might want to live close to a gym, golf course, nature reserve or country club.

“Remember, it’s your job to know your town or city better than they do, and you may be able to suggest a neighbourhood that they don’t even know about but which perfectly matches their needs and budget.”

The style of home

The third thing to check is what style of home they prefer – an ultra-modern villa with an open floor plan, lots of glass and gleaming surfaces or a more casual, country-style family home? A tall Tudor, a boxy Tuscan or a cute Victorian cottage complete with pressed ceilings and broekie lace?

Bells and whistles

Fourth, says Rademeyer, you should ask about specific home features that they regard as “must haves” such as a covered patio for entertaining and perhaps a pool, a fireplace, a guest bathroom, a proper study, a fully fitted kitchen or a double garage. These will no doubt vary in importance from buyer to buyer.

What type of home?

And finally, you should enquire whether they want a newly built home or would prefer a pre-owned property or even a fixer-upper. Some buyers just want to move right in and get on with their busy schedules, while others thrive on the challenge of restoring a former beauty to its original glory.

“This may seem like a lot of information to elicit at a first meeting with prospective buyers, but the fact is that if they don’t know the answers to these questions, they are probably not very clear on what they want anyway, and you could all end up wasting a lot of time and energy looking at the wrong properties,” he says.

“On the other hand, the more detailed their description of what they have in mind, the more likely you are to become a property fairy-godmother and make their dreams – and yours - come true by finding a perfect property match.”

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