Work With Buyers
Owners.com Seller Handbook
One of the biggest potential problem with by owner sales is that it is hard to
get an appointment to see the house. You must make your house easy to see, while
keeping yourself and your valuables safe.
Watch for "buying signs" from buyers. These include: staying in the house a long
time, discussing where their furniture would go and asking you about your timeframes
for moving. These are possibly your most serious buyers. Follow up with them.
Don’t discriminate! Treat every prospective buyer the same, regardless of
race, color, religion, sex, handicap, family status, or national origin.
Discrimination is against the law!
READ THE LAW
Make sure you initiate and continue a successful chain of communication with interested buyers.
Handling the phone:
- Put an answering machine on the phone.
Leave an outgoing message announcing that the house is for sale and you would
love to show it to the buyer. You don't want to miss a prospective buyer's
- Prepare the kids.
If you have children - and they are home
alone or with a sitter - have them say that a parent is busy right now but
will call back within a specific timeframe. They shouldn’t answer questions
about the house. Remind your kids to never indicate that they are
alone or open the door to drop-ins.
- Get the caller's information.
Always ask for the buyer’s name, phone number at home - and at work - so
that you can confirm the appointment. Double check the phone numbers in
the phone book for security reasons. If a caller refuses to give you this
information, they probably are not a serious buyer anyway.
- Don’t discuss price over the phone.
Don't get into a discussion over price with someone who hasn’t even seen
the house. If a caller says your price is high for the area, respond that
you priced it according to the comparables and that you’d be happy to
show them the comparable report when they come to see the house.
- Don’t negotiate over the phone.
Many buyers will ask you if your price is negotiable. Again, indicate
that you priced the house according to the comparables and that you
expect your price is in the correct range. Say that you will consider
offers made in writing from qualified buyers, and that you’d like to
have them see the house.
- Agent Calls.
You will get calls and drop-ins from real estate agents who will want to
list your home or show it to a potential buyer. When agents call, always
ask them what they think about your price - keeping in mind that they
want your business. Use their information with your other research -
the more information you have, the more successful you will be.
Talking to Interested Buyers
Congratulations! You’ve gotten that call from buyers you showed your home to
last week, and they are interested in talking further about buying the house.
They want to come back and see the house one more time and then sit down and
discuss the possible purchase. At this point, there are several steps to get
to an actual written contract.
First, invite the buyers back immediately and put the house
in absolutely great condition. This visit is when the buyer will make the
decision to make an offer to you or move on to another house. Make sure
everything is spotless, clear the walks of snow or ice if necessary and turn
on lights. Do everything and more that you would do for an open house. Be
sure you have created a calm and relaxed atmosphere in the house.
When the buyers arrive, greet them warmly and offer soft
drinks, coffee or tea. Then let them take another look at the house. Offer
to answer any questions they may have about the house, but stay out of their
way. Hopefully, when they are finished looking they will have several
questions. Remember that questions are buying signs. If they aren’t interested
enough to ask questions, they probably aren’t interested enough to buy. Answer
the questions truthfully. You are setting the stage for future negotiations,
so be calm and friendly.
It is possible that the buyers will indicate that they are
interested in the house and will ask what the next step is. You should
always be prepared for this question. The next step is always for the
buyers to put their offer in writing. If you have hired a contract attorney
to negotiate the contract for you, the attorney should provide you with
contract forms to give to the buyer. If the buyer says that s/he would just
like to talk about the sale and be sure you are on the same page, use common
sense. Obviously you and the buyer have to come to terms and there is nothing
wrong with friendly discussion, but nothing is binding until it is in writing.
The best advice is to not negotiate price verbally. If the buyer asks you how
low you will go, indicate that you need to see their entire offer and evidence
that they can qualify for the mortgage before you can negotiate price. Indicate
that you have priced your home to sell and, while everything is possibly
negotiable, price is only one part of the equation, and you will have to see
their offer in writing.
Remember to remain calm and friendly. Don’t take negative
comments about the house or your price personally. This is critical to your
success. Even if the buyer seems to be difficult (and some will be, it’s a
fact of life) REMAIN CALM AND FRIENDLY. By owner transactions require a win-win.
Do not allow the discussion to become confrontational.