By Jeff Stern
I don’t show homes to just anyone. In fact, I avoid showing to one particular kind of buyer.
They are the buyers who have not taken the step of becoming preapproved to buy a home.
Any buyer who has not taken the basic step of getting preapproval from a bank is not ready to look at homes. And they’re certainly incapable of making a solid offer.
It’s not only saved me countless thousands of hours over the years because I’m not running around showing everything to everyone with a whim, it’s also saved my seller clients thousands of hours of time and frustration. My sellers don’t have to evacuate for needless showings, or entertain fruitless offers that unnecessarily tie their home up, potentially losing an opportunity from a financially qualified buyer and having their hopes dashed just because of unpreparedness.
My colleagues often ask me how. How can I possibly turn people away? Wouldn’t refusing people wreck my business?
Here’s the secret though. The customer is absolutely, always right, but remember a customer is not every random stranger who talks to you. It’s someone engaged, participating and in a position to buy a home. Anyone outside of that can’t be the boss of your time. Well, they can, but it’s not wise to let them.
How valuable is your sellers’ time? How valuable is your time? Are you willing to give it to any random stranger, without regard for your client’s best interests? What essentially happens is your clients are inconvenienced and quite possibly disadvantaged and you are investing your time poorly, which will most likely result in failure to sell their home.
I’m not. I like the way Carl Sandburg said, “Time is the most valuable coin in your life. You and you alone will determine how that coin will be spent. Be careful that you do not let other people spend it for you.”
A colleague felt the pain of giving away that coin. My clients were interested in a property and wanted to make an offer. The seller’s agent was on his way to receive our offer when he called.
“You’re not going to believe this – one of the agents in my office is writing an offer right now!”
I advised my clients on how to compete without giving away the farm, so to speak. In the back of my mind, I suspected it would be an offer like many others that surface this way – unapproved buyers promising what they can’t – and it would fall through.
The seller accepted the other offer. The seller’s agent arranged to hand-deliver the declined offer to me the following day. I received it early that afternoon and as I expected (but much sooner than I thought), not 20 minutes later, the agent called me with news.
“So, the other offer fell through. Their financing was declined.”
I wasn’t surprised. It happens more than you’d think.
“You know Jeff,” he said, “I know you advise agents to work only with buyers who have been pre-approved, but I can’t convince my office to do it. Here’s the proof that it’s a colossal waste of time not to.”
I felt his pain. It is a colossal waste of time – for sellers, buyers and us too. That’s why I don’t do it.
If, like that sellers’ agent, you are in an office that won’t adopt this, can I make a suggestion? Why not refer such prospective buyers to your colleagues? They’d gladly receive the referrals, and you’d be free to pursue serious, pre-approved buyers.
Your seller clients will thank you and your colleagues will also thank you for keeping them busy.
As for the unqualified buyers, they too deserve respect and the opportunity to see homes. That is why we host open houses.