Finding “the one” for and with your buyers translates into asking your buyers the right questions. In a piece recently published by MSN, Sarah Li Cann suggests that agents ask their buyers and sellers these questions:

  1. What is your total budget?
    1. A “total” budget includes the sale price, the property taxes, the HOA dues, the homeowner insurance, ongoing home maintenance both inside and outside the house, monthly mortgage payments, renovations, upgrades, etc.
    2. Also ask whether or not your buyer is preapproved for a mortgage. “ Preapproved” translates into the seller knowing the buyer is not wasting her/his time or that of the agent. It also translates into searching out homes that the buyer can afford rather than homes the buyer would like to buy.
  2. Is the home in a flood/wildfire zone?
    1. If yes is the answer here, the buyer may need flood, wildfire, earthquake insurance.
    2. If yes is the answer here, make sure the buyer gets enough coverage in the event that the buyer has to rebuild…everything.
  3. Why is the seller selling?
    1. Is the seller downsizing, relocating for a job, relocating for a life event or health?
    2. Answers to such questions indicate how motivated the seller is to make a deal.
  4. What is included in the sale of the house?
    1. Appliances, furnishings, drapes/blinds?
    2. The listing description out to spell out exclusions and inclusions but often does not.
  5. Any additions and/or renovations to the house?
    1. Answers here offer insights into the condition and price of the home.
    2. Disclosure statements ought to spell out these details but often do not despite being required by law to do so.
  6. How old is the roof?
  7. How old are the appliances and major systems such as HVAC?
  8. How many days has the house been on the market?
  9. Any safety/health hazards in the house such as mold, lead paint, radon?
  10. Is the house comparably priced to similar houses in the neighborhood?
  11. Is there any history of past insurance claims?
    1. To make sure, get a copy of the Comprehensive Loss Underwriting Exchange (CLUE) report to see whether or not claims have been filed in the last seven years.
    2. CLIUE reports offer insights into damage caused by weather, vandalism, etc.
  12. How is the neighborhood?
    1. Buyers are buying not just the house but also the neighborhood schools, parks, amenities and the functionality of the HOA.
    2. Buyers are also buying commute times.
  13. How are the neighbors?
    1. Are they noisy, quiet, pet friendly?
    2. Drive/walk the neighborhood and speak with the neighbors.
  14. How much are the closing costs?
    1. Closing costs include loan origination fees, title research, appraisals and administrative costs.
    2. Closing costs usually run between 2-5% of the purchase price.
    3. Lenders are required to provide closing disclosures three business days prior to closings.

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