How to Chase Away Your Perfectly Qualified, Perfectly Loyal Prospects

Education & Training with Sell with Soul


Last night I participated in a lively discussion here on the Rain about whether or not to require buyer pre-approval and/or a buyer agency agreement prior to showing a home. The author of the blog and most of the commenters agreed that it's a waste of time to work with a buyer who does not have a pre-approval stamped to his forehead and/or hesitates to sign a buyer agency agreement upfront.

Such discussions always rile me up and I couldn't help myself from approaching rudeness on someone else's blog (sorry). But I have to ask myself... are real estate agents in today's market So Darn Busy with qualified buyers and motivated sellers that they need to actively turn away those who show up at their doors looking for help? Wow! As I always say in these situations - I LOVE a full pipeline! Send ‘em my way! I'll take great care of them and probably sell them a house eventually... as well as to all their friends through the years. And I'll be happy to pay you a referral fee.

I have used the services of many real estate agents in my lifetime and I promise you that if any of them had shown more interest upfront in my financial qualifications than in my housing needs, I'd have found someone else ... who showed me the respect I think I deserve. And I certainly would not be interested in obligating myself to anyone I barely know. Oooooh, I get bristly just thinking about it.

I submit that many agents are chasing away perfectly good buyers who are 100% sincere in their desire to purchase a house -- and are likely perfectly well qualified to do so. But with these disrespectful efforts to tie them down, all they're accomplishing is sending them elsewhere... fulfilling the prophecy that buyers are liars and confirming the belief that stronger "rules" are needed in the future.

I disagree. I believe that this approach simply irritates buyers, so they look elsewhere for more respectful assistance. I have to wonder if spending time with a buyer without a hint of obligation or pressure might be a much better use of  time than fussing so much over whether or not they're worthy of a little time?

Relationships take time. There's no way you can know upfront if a buyer will buy, regardless of the pieces of paper they bring with them or are willing to sign. If an agent can't afford the $20 in gas or the two hours of time it might take to create some trust and rapport, then by all means, he'll probably do better referring his potential clients out. And please don't forget - we get serious paychecks when someone buys. Our paychecks more than offset the risk of a little gas money and time.

My friends, most buyers are not liars... Most buyers have better things to do than waste our precious time. Their time is precious, too. They simply want to be treated kindly, and with RESPECT.



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Karen Rice
Davis R. Chant, REALTORS - Hawley, PA
Northeast PA & Lake Wallenpaupack Home Sales

I have not yet come across anyone who can't buy a home, with the exception of a few who contacted me and were very up-front, saying they knew they couldn't get a mortgage due to past problems and would I help them find a lease-purchase opportunity.

What I've found to be an issue with the "buyers are liars" phrase is not that they're "LIARS" but that they don't really know what they want!  LOL.  (which is why you end up selling them something totally different than what they originally told you they wanted.) 

What has happened though is not that the buyers don't qualify for the mortgage -but the mortgage doesn't get approved becuase the house doesn't appraise! Or, after looking at two dozen houses, they decide to take out a home equity loan instead and put an addition on their house.

Yes, my time IS precious.  So is theirs.  And I'd also like to be the agent who took the time to listen to them and was interested in their needs.  They will remember that, especially if I keep in touch with them...eventually they will buy, or maybe they will refer someone.   



Aug 06, 2008 02:04 AM #108
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Karen - I HATE the term, Buyers are Liars just because they change their minds in the middle of their search. Who doesn't do that? I think we actually contribute to this phenomenon when we push buyers to give us  very detailed description of what they want and then try to find THAT house. However, the buyer would be happy with other types of homes, with more or less or different amenities, so by asking for so much detail, we force them to make decisions about things they may not care about. For example, if you ask someone if they want a garage or not, who is going to say "No, thank, I don't want a garage." But maybe the buyer doesn't care all that much.

Aug 06, 2008 02:16 AM #109
Mary Pope-Handy
Sereno Group Real Estate - Los Gatos, CA
CRS, CIPS, ABR, SRES, Silicon Valley

I guess it depends on how you want to run your business, and what is expected by consumers and agents in your local market.

In my experience, it makes no sense to show homes to people who do not know what they can truly afford. Even more in today's market, they are best served by picking a loan BEFORE picking a house. That way they are not pressured into getting some exotic loan that they will later regret.

Consumers often think of us as working "for free" and that agents should not highly regard their own time. To run a good business, though, it is imperative to not be a marionette at the end of a string, jumping at every call to show property, for instance. If you run out and show homes to total strangers, not only do you risk wasting everyone's time (including your own), you also risk your safety. 

When buyers are pre-approved (or at least have begun the conversation with a good lender), not only do they have better tools for decision making, but there's an added benefit of "more safety" for you before putting that person or couple into your car.

I am not willing to put total strangers in my car, nor to meet them at homes. Working with a lender is smart on so many levels as a prerequisite to doing that. But of course there are lots of ways to run one's business. I wish you success and above all safety....

Aug 06, 2008 04:19 AM #110
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

Hi Karen,

You are very fortunate.  Might be where you live - I have no idea. But I was warned from day one - DON'T WORK WITHOUT PREAPPROVALS!  It should be added that most brokerages around here actually advertise that they will only allow qualified buyers to view someone's home!  I have to say I have no notion as to how to enforce that one. But its all over everyone's literature!

However, every experienced agent who works my area INSISTS on that pre-approval being in place before taking anyone anywhere.   I don't know one veteran agent in my area who doesn't do this and my guess is that our location is the reason.  It's VERY expensive here.  Unless its a studio, you are usually at roughly $200k for almost anything else desirable - and that's generally a 1 BR unit without any frills or much room. Starter house?  A Nice starter house  - if you want more than just one bathroom  - over $600k.  So many, many people don't qualify and many more "imagine" that they qualify for far, far more than they do. When I get buyers to qualifiy themselves, they generally find they can afford $50-100k LESS than they thought.  Most think backwards.  "I have a nice income, therefore this small house SHOULD be affordable."  So the pricing situation creates a situation where most start out OVER-estimating what they can get - by wide margins. Unfortunately, this is Westchester and being 20-40 minutes from midtown Manhattan comes with a huge sticker price. I have found that once I start taking them to the places they WANT (not what they can afford) that all I have done is whet their appetites for more house/luxury then they can possibly handle financially.  This turns them off to the whole buying process and I lose the sale.   Not getting them qualified up-front is a lose-lose - for them and me.  It sets the buyers up for a major disappointment and me for losing a sale. I've never closed a deal with someone who hasn't walked through the door with a pre-approval - or gotten one at my request.   Something always goes wrong with people who can't/won't do it.

I would say that 80%  have eyes much bigger then their wallets.  I need realistic buyers not crazy people with pipe dreams.  This same type of person will often not "accept" the market that they are in and run around with new agents who don't know any better trying to lowball things so that they can "qualify" for more.  New agents around here are truly desperate.  99% won't see a closing for over a year - but they didn't know that when they signed up - so they go along with it thinking they can "create" a buyer.  They think this person will get "realistic" after a while and finally buy something they can afford. It's insane because most of these people will not become buyers.  People have a minimal set of "standards" before they will buy.  If what they see not to that minimal standard, they will rush back and hug their rental.  It is not a wise financial move, but that's the behavior and there is no changing it.  The behavior here is that because houses are so expensive, people feel that if the look under enough rocks they can "steal" something - after all this IS supposed to be a housing slump.   This mentality can cause agents to waste outrageous amounts of time and gasoline and completely undermine their ability to get started in more constructive ways.

Aug 06, 2008 04:20 AM #111
Rebecca Schrader
Competitive Insurance of Dundee - Dundee, FL

BRAVO! This totally reminded me of the time my husband and i went house shopping. We were wanting to purchase a 4 bedroom home closer to his job. We packed a cooler and snacks for the kids and took off in search of a nice neighborhood in the area. We must have looked for a couple of hours and then finally found the ONE...It was a beautiful 2 story house in a very nice neighborhood. We found the INFO Tube and phoned the selling agent. Even though it was terribly late on a Saturday, she still insisted on showing us the house. It turned out that it was not going to suit family's needs. So this agent take out a pad and jots down exactly what our family was looking for in a new home...the kids even told her what THEY were looking for...She then sets up an appointment the following Monday to dedicate the morning to showing us all the houses that she thought would meet our needs. This agent took the time to KNOW what we wanted, took the time to show us homes all over the area we wanted to live in. She was extremely professional, funny, and never once made us feel like we were taking her away from something "important". It's not always about "hurry up and make them sign on the dotted line"...however...each agent is different. And i will recommend AGENT to anyone looking in this particular area! Best of luck with YOUR approach as it seems you too deserve a tremendous amount of respect from your potential buyers as our agent did from US!

Aug 06, 2008 04:57 AM #112
na na
Ponca City, OK

I don't remember the statistics, but I remember reading that a very low percentage of buyers actually bought the home they originally inquired about.

Aug 06, 2008 11:02 AM #113
Karl Burger
ERA Beach Ball Realty - Pensacola, FL
Pensacola Real Estate News

When I saw all the comments I thought the picture would have generated a lot of them. I remember a while back when Mary McKnight posted a similar picture, and it was a huge hit. Every comment mentioned the picture. Hey, but this is great. It's all about what you wrote, and very little about the pic. That's cause you a such an awesome blogger. But I really love the pic too!!!

Aug 06, 2008 03:04 PM #114
Dawn Isenhower
Sibcy Cline Realtors - Milford, OH

As a newer agent, I am refining my approach to buyers, and I seem to have gotten some practice in the last few months. My first buyer  seemed to be perfect. She was pre-approved and "ready to find a home."  After weeks of driving her around, she has decided to move back in with boyfriend. 

On the other hand, I am working with other buyers who are going through  the buying process for the first time. I showed them 4 houses on the first day that I took them out-one of those homes being an open house that I was doing that day. I already had a relationship with them from church, so educating them and showing them homes has been a pleasure. Since we have a relationship, they are very concerned about my time and the amount of work that I am doing for them.


My manager says that working with clients is like a courtship. You don't ask someone to marry you on the first date (unless you want to scare them). At the same time, however, he cautions us not to use all of our time and resources on people who are not going to buy. He says to put them on a "slow drip" of following up until they are ready.

Aug 06, 2008 03:35 PM #115
-- Casey Brischle
Columbia Bank - Spokane, WA
Spokane Home Loan Mortgage Professional

First itme home buyers are the toughest ones these day i would say...Hey just send them my way and I will take care of them! ;)

Aug 08, 2008 06:58 AM #116
The Somers Team
The Somers Team at KW Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA
Delivering Real Estate Happiness


I agree - there is a grey area in there where I think a lot of realtors leave a lot of business on the table.  You cannot force buyers to agree to things they most often do not understand.  I think the respect goes both ways... if an agent listens to a buyer and respects their needs and goals and feels hey this agent is looking out for my best agent, then that buyer will in turn show respect to that realotr.  Whola !  A relationship builds... we never slam buyer agency down someone's throat when we first meet a new buyer, but instead look to build relationships.  I like the way you think and write !

Philadelphia Real Estate

Aug 08, 2008 01:50 PM #117
Palm Coast Homes
100 Plus Realty LLC - Palm Coast, FL
Palm Coast/Flagler County Real Estate, The Ross/Co

Jennifer- very well put.  The only time I aks for a customer to obtain thier proof of funds or pre-approval before we begin a search for homes are when we will be focusing on foreclosures or short sales.  I have my customers get all of their ducks in a row before showing distressed sales because you need to be able to act fast in those situations and the banks will require that all offers be accompanied by those pre-approval documentations.

Aug 08, 2008 07:39 PM #118
Mark Richards
Cherry Creek Properties - Castle Rock, CO
Castle Rock/Denver Real Estate

We agree totally!  Great attitude and article!  Even the ones that can't qualify now know people or have friends that can. With the right lender the can'ts can become cans over time, often with a little guidance.

Aug 09, 2008 05:45 PM #119
Rebecca Schrader
Competitive Insurance of Dundee - Dundee, FL

nice post! Word of mouth advertising is amazingly's always best to keep it POSITIVE. The last thing you need folks saying about you is "wow, that was a rude agent! Did she seem like she was in a rush to get rid of us?" for example.

Aug 10, 2008 02:17 AM #120
Aaron Cullen
Brokers Inc. Residential Real estate - Folsom, CA
Folsom, El Dorado Hills & Sacramento Real Estate &

I could not have said it better myself...  Just have to be thorough, diliegent and honest.  Now matter which way you play it, its always a roll of the dice.  I have learned to trust my gut and press forward.  Thanks for the insights!

Aug 12, 2008 03:52 PM #121
Michelle Chamberlain
Above All Financial Services -Pennsylvania Mortgage Broker - Secane, PA
Suburban Philadelphia Mortgage Broker

When my previous home was for sale, the listing office called for a last minute showing, which then showed up late, and for whatever reason I did not leave the house while the other agent from the office brought the potential buyer through.  The agent took the buyer as far as the kitchen and then spent a good 15  minutes in there trying to convince the buyer to sign a buyer's agent agreement with her.   How is that for being agressive?  I would have been so turned off and I bet this buyer was too.

Aug 12, 2008 05:01 PM #122
Brian Thomas Smith - Nashville Real Estate Agent
Prudential Woodmont Realty - Nashville, TN


Respect can be shown even if an agent inquires about the buyer's ability to purchase the kind of home they wish to have.  I think it's a disservice to the customer or client to lead them blindly into thinking they can obtain a loan for a certain amount when in actuality they cannot.  The outcome could be worse than an agent spending time and money...the buyer could lose money as well in the process.  A home inspection, termite inspection, both cost the buyer.  It's not wrong or disrespectful to advise a customer or client to find out what they can qualify for.  In fact I think it is an important part of the process and of value to the buyer.  They may decide that now is not the time to buy.  Their hopes and designs for a certain home may be something for a year or two down the road.  Better to know now than for them to be disappointed when the loan gets denied.


Aug 22, 2008 03:22 AM #123
Sonja Adams
Samson Proprties - Purcellville, VA

I agree with you....I do get the pre approval pretty quickly though and want the process started but I don't want my buyers to feel pressured.

Sep 12, 2008 01:09 AM #124
Rob & Jeannie Steward - Realtors®
RE/MAX Advantage - Nashville, TN
We Work TWICE As Hard For You! - Ashton Group

Wow Jennifer. You've really struck a nerve with this topic.  ;-)

Jun 19, 2010 03:29 AM #125
Jim Mellen

Jennifer, I agree completely. Has anyone ever had a deal with a perfectly qualified buyer fall apart at the end due to financing? My guess is most of us have had that happen at least once. With todays lending environment, a buyer may not be determined to be fully approved until days before the actual closing-and with the new financial regulation reform, we are going to see it get even tougher. We'll see lenders pulling credit reports and asking for documentaion the day before closing.

A good agent or REALTOR has incredible instincts and we know when we're being played and avoid those situations. I'll work with any buyer whether PRE approved or not. As part of my counseling process the procedures from looking at homes to contract are explained. As a listing agent, I really could care less if a buyer is pre qualified at the time they write an offer, and could care less if a buyers agent produces some useless pre qualification letter. Our contract languages stipulates timelines for lending approval and I'll expect them to adhere to the contract, just as I do as a buyers agent.

We all walk through department stores and eventually buy. We browse the internet and use someones resources and eventually buy. Can you imagine if the vendors put restrictions on our shopping until we committed to buying from them?


Jun 27, 2010 02:06 AM #126
Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn
Sell with Soul - Pensacola Beach, FL
Author of Sell with Soul

Jim - I'm so glad you commented on this - you make some great points... Thank you!

Jun 27, 2010 02:17 AM #127
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