Ready, Willing and Able buyers
Ready. Willing and Able is actually an adjective defined as: "fully prepared to act, as in performing a contract."
It's important to be able to access whether or not the clients you are working with are ready, willing and able to buy. I'm not being a slimeball here. I'm just being real. None of us work for free and I think it's unreasonable to ask an agent to do all this work for you if you are not in fact ready, willing and able to buy. Seems fair doesn't it?
If you think about it, it's only worth working with those who are all three, right? If a buyer is ready and willing, but not able to buy, then that is an issue. If a buyer is ready and able but not willing to buy, that is also an issue. And certainly if a buyer is willing and able but not ready to buy, then that also is an issue. So this poses the question...How do you know?
Well, the easiest way is to simply ask. Some experts say the three most important questions you should ask a buyer are:
1. When do you need to be settled?
2. How long have you been looking?
3. If you found a home today that met all your criteria, what do you think you would do?
Most agents know to ask pre-qualifying questions to see if they are able to buy but many fail to ask these important questions to address the ready and willing parts. Agents then take financially qualified buyers out and show them house after house only to find that they don't plan to move for a few years or that they are simply not willing to make a decision.
Now the first two questions are easy to ask and are not very pushy. The third, however, I know can throw some agents a bit because if not asked correctly can come across as pushy or overly assertive. Be very careful when asking this one because you certainly don't want to get anyone upset. You don't want to sound like that used car salesman down the street that asks
"what's it gonna take to get you to buy this car today?".
Practice saying that third question in different ways, using different pauses, different tones of voice, and different facial expressions until you are able to get it to come across more conversational and less selly. If this is something that you are struggling with and you just can't get it down, then just go for the fall-back option of just prep-ing them for the question before you ask it. You can just say something like
"One of the things that I need to do is to kind of gague where you are in the buying process. Sometimes when I ask about this it can come across a little pushy but I'm simply trying to find out more about your intentions and your situation so I can best help you..."
then ask the question. That's not the best approach but if you can't do it any other way, at least do that much. But be sure to ask!
It's important to know that your buyers are Ready Willing, and Able because if they are not, then you're not only wasting your time, but you are wasting THEIR time as well. Asking those simple questions, and making sure your buyer is also pre-qualified (able) are ESSENTIAL before ever showing them properties.
Now I've heard from a managing broker of a different office that he will actually take them out house shopping ONCE before they are pre-qualified. The idea behind this is rapport building and learning their likes and dislikes. While I value his opinion, and I have done this myself as well, I do greatly disagree. I think that risks making the job harder later.
For example, what if you take them out and show them a house that is $300k, one that is $320k and one that is $315k. As you conclude your house hunting trip, you think you have a better idea about their needs and desires and you tell them to go get pre-approved. They sit down with a mortgage broker who pulls their credit and finds out that they are only qualified for $255k. UH OH!! Well now what? The problem now is that you'll now be showing them homes in the $200-260 price range and they may not like any of them as much because they'll be compairing them all to the $300k homes you were showing them before. Whoops. That's why I say pre-approval first, then at least you'll be looking in the right price range from the start. You'll need it for the offer anyway so it's better to have it ready to go when you find that right place.
So in conclusion, take the time to qualify buyers by asking the right questions to determine if they are Ready, Willing and Able to buy. Practice these questions so you don't sound pushy. The other option, don't heed the advice and learn the hard way later.