What is your favorite first question to ask buyers?

Asked by John Souerbry, Fairfield, CA Sat Feb 9, 2013

Historically, the most common question asked to determine if buyers should start looking at properties is "have you been pre-qualified for financing?" That's still a good starting point, but we've been trying a new question that has done an even better job of weeding out those who aren't ready to take on showings now. It's this: "when do you want to start looking at properties?" Surprisingly, about half of our "qualified" buyers say they only want to look online, they're not ready to go into the field or make an offer for several more months.
Do you have a favorite question for determining if buyers are ready to take action NOW?

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Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sun Feb 10, 2013
If we meet at my office, my first question is usually, "Would you like coffee or tea?"

John, buddy, I just ask them up front - what's your time-line, how urgent is this purchase?

ME: So, what's your time-line, when you do need to be in a new place?
BUYER: Oh, we're not in any hurry. We're on a month-to-month and our rent is really low, so we just thought that if there was something we just couldn't resist out there, we might be willing to check it out.

I don't use a script, but I do want to leave that first appointment knowing what the client's expectations are - timeframe, method of payment, property requirements . . .

-- mc
1 vote
Judi Monday,…, Agent, Green Valley, AZ
Mon Feb 11, 2013
While I don't use a script--my goal is to determine they are ready to buy and in a position to buy (proof of funds/pre/qual). The question (s) vary and are tailored to the clients but the goal is always the same.
0 votes
Joan Congilo…, Agent, Freehold, NJ
Mon Feb 11, 2013
The first question I usually ask is what is your time frame for moving. This lets me know if they have to sell before they buy or if they are tied up in a lease for a lengthy time. That question is followed by probing questions such as desired price range, location, style & preapproval status.
0 votes
Connie Mitch…, Agent, South Padre Island, TX
Sun Feb 10, 2013
I like to ask what specifics they are looking for in a property. We are a resort community and have second homes, investment homes, rental homes, and coorporate homes; their anwer generally assists me in targeting in on the property type, price range, and location.
0 votes
Christopher…, Agent, Tarrytown, NY
Sun Feb 10, 2013
I like to ask them their motivation for moving, you can learn a lot about the buyer from this question alone.
0 votes
Jeff and Kaye…, Agent, Colorado Springs, CO
Sun Feb 10, 2013
Depends on the situation - am I meeting them at an open house, are they a referral or a sign call. If I sitting down in a meeting with them I ask them what outcome they are hoping to achieve. This will tell me what kind of home they are looking for and how emotional they are about it. Some buyers are very specific and others are jsut about the transaction of finding a good deal. If it's a sign call I always ask if htey are working with an agent currently so that i don't waste my time and can refer them back to their agent. Their agent may not know they are out making calls to other agents and understand they need to rely on their own agent for information.
0 votes
Dorene Slavi…, Agent, Torrance, CA
Sun Feb 10, 2013
I ask them what their goals are. Some clients have investments in mind, while others want suitable housing. In my opinion it's important to know so that I can help them achieve those.
0 votes
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