As a broker who has over twenty listings at any given moment of the year, you better believe we receive an insurmountable amount of phone calls about our properties. Some calls come in early, some calls come in late, but the ones that bother us most have nothing to do with the timing of the call, or the length of it either! First impressions last a very long time and brokers speak to a lot of people, coming off as one of the “wrong” types of buyers can greatly impact how a broker perceives you during negotiations or even prior to visiting the property. Here are 4 things not to ask a realtor when you contact them for the first time.
1. Is the price negotiable?
This is by far, the worst question you can ask a broker when calling them for the first time. Obviously if you know the broker well and have done business with them in the past it may not be a bad question to ask, but if you are a stranger and ask this question to start a conversation about his listing…. It may seem to be quite a normal question, but the truth is that asking this question before visiting the home or getting any details makes a potential buyer come off as someone looking for a bargain, or someone who is just not that serious. My advice? – visit the home, meet the broker, create a connection and a bond before talking price, you might hate the house and not even consider making an offer, If the starting price is out of your comfort zone, do not make that known immediately as the broker will not take you as seriously.
2. Why are they selling?
Although this is not an irrelevant question, The timing of this question does make all the difference. On your first call with a broker, you should be discussing details such as building size, availability for visiting and if there are any known factors that you should know about before visiting the home. Asking the realtor why his clients are selling is as useless as asking him if it will be raining next week. They might be getting a divorce, they might be moving to Nova Scotia, but truly it does not really make a difference. The fact that the home is on the market means they are looking to sell, and if the reason should be divorce, death or change of country, the property was priced based on recent sales and current inventory, not necessarily their direct motivation to sell (which may influence the pricing) Keep your first conversation short and sweet, visit the home and collect data about the sellers indirectly through vague questions and clues at your visit. Once you create a bond with the realtor they may be more inclined to give you better information.
3. What price did they pay when they bought it?
This has to be the OMEGA of the worst questions to ask a realtor. It has ABSOLUTELY no play on the current market value, and the seller is entirely allowed to make as much profit as the free market allows him to make. Professional experience, I once had a buyer call me and ask me what my seller paid for the home. My answer was “Well he bought it in 1983 – we are in 2017… Not sure if that question is relevant” and his answer was “Of course it is, if he paid it 63,000$, why would I give him 300,000 for it today?” This type of conversation shows a broker that you are not serious, or are using the wrong logic when shopping for a home and makes them feel as if you are not serious, or worse – motivated by the worst possible cues in history to offer ridiculous prices. Hold off on discussing price if possible at all during your first phone call.
4. We are in front of the home right now, can we visit it?
No. You can’t. If I am not in front of the home, then you cannot visit it. Realtors are known for being notoriously busy and readily available to show their listings at any given moment, but an instant visit is almost NEVER possible. Be respectful towards the sellers as well as the realtor and before imposing your calendar on the other parties, ask them for their availability and when it would be possible to visit, if now is an option trust me they will give it to you.
In conclusion, from your local broker, the best way to approach your first encounter with the listing broker is to keep it brief, polite and not ask too many questions. Save the important questions for when you meet with the broker at a visit and can read their body language and get the right information in person. Most of all, visit the home and find out how much you really like it before discussing important details.