There’s a saying in today’s real estate industry: “Nobody owns the buyer.” With properties advertised online, buyers do their own research and don’t rely on their agent to filter properties for them. And because open homes are the usual first method of inspection, most buyers are no longer being driven around by agents to inspections. They will go to properties of any agent with the listing. But serious buyers will often register their details and property requirements with local agents so that they’ll be the first to find out about properties new to the market.
You have probably had letters or flyers in your letterbox from agents stating that they have buyers looking for a property in your street or area. You’ve probably wondered if this is just a ploy among agents to try and get listings. Well, yes it is. But it is also likely to be the truth—agents usually do have buyers looking to buy in the area, especially in a rising market.
Although there are “Buyers’ Agents” who are paid a fee by buyers to find them a property, most real estate agents in Australia work on the basis of listing properties and selling them. In other words, they work for sellers rather than buyers. But these agents still have to find buyers for the properties they have listed. So they tend to keep a database of buyers. An up to date and comprehensive database is an important source of leads for agents. They will email their database new properties before they are listed publicly. As a result, some properties are sold from the database without even being advertised. The database is a gold mine to good agents.
The better real estate agents maintain contact with their database—past buyers, past sellers, potential buyers and future sellers. They know which buyers are still looking, which have bought, which have become serious, and which are no longer interested in buying. This active “buyer management” helps you as a seller because your agent should have buyers looking for a house like yours that they can bring through, at least to obtain some early market feedback.
Buyers are not just an amorphous mass of people, they can be different in terms of:
- demographics of family that will live in the house.
- financial capacity.
- their personal tastes.
- the urgency with which they need to buy.
- their ability to make a decision.
The complexity of buyer typology is another reason to use an agent, who will be familiar with these different types and motivations that will impact on negotiations.
Those who are ready now or who need to buy (say, their lease is running out) are generally easier to deal with. They are less fussy and may not be as price sensitive as those in no hurry. Then there are the procrastinators who will look at dozens of properties but can’t commit. They’ll turn up every week to open homes. They ask for second inspections, but something’s always not quite right for them. They burn through numerous agents trying to find their perfect home.
Following up buyers
Most agents follow up buyers. Some do not, particularly if they are in an area that is a sellers’ market. Some agents become arrogant or lazy, assuming that any interested buyer will call them. If the property is good enough and well priced, they will. But even so, make sure your agent follows up all buyers and gives you a weekly marketing report.
Second and Third Inspections
Rarely will buyers will purchase a property after one inspection. Most will want a second or third, even a fourth or fifth. They will want to check things they have forgotten, measure up the side access to see if the caravan will fit, check what the noise levels are like at night sitting out on the balcony, have one more look to be absolutely certain.
At any stage the buyers might start to find fault and talk themselves out of buying a property. Three inspections should be enough, one of them at night. I would be questioning the buyers about a fourth inspection, and trying to get an offer out of them.
Obviously, the property needs to be well presented each time, and for the sellers to not be at home.