Smarter and more experienced agents find shortcuts to narrow the playing field and make sifting through buyers quicker and more efficient. The trick is to create an automated system that weeds out “dead-end” leads who are unlikely to buy, so you can focus your limited time and resources on the most likely buyers.
One proven tool to dramatically speed up the matchmaking process is a buyer questionnaire. By asking targeted and strategic questions, you can learn lots of relevant details and tidbits to accurately assess the individual needs of each buyer. That way, you can pair up each listing’s criteria with buyers who are the best fit, allowing you to cross hundreds of unlikely buyers off your list, and spend time going after the most probable leads.
When creating your questions, it’s really important to be strategic. On the one hand, you want to get as much pertinent information as possible. At the same time, many people who take surveys feel like their privacy is being invaded, and are reluctant to share too much. Plus, people are busy, and don’t have time to answer endless questions.
Here are common mistakes to avoid, which can confuse, annoy, or even alienate potential homebuyers:
- Don’t make it too long. These days, people have little time to spare. The last thing they want is to answer a long list of questions from their real estate agent. You need to make the process smooth and simple for buyers, not give them extra homework. Not to mention, too much data can be detrimental to YOU too. Skip unnecessary details like job location, current living conditions, lease expiration date, and convenient times to view a house. Those may be nice to know, but they feel invasive, and make the cost of asking far outweigh the benefit.
- Skip semi-relevant or detailed questions. Your objective: gather targeted data that’s most likely to influence a buyer’s decision to buy a given property. Don’t focus heavily on endless details, even if they seem important, because it can easily backfire. Generally, the most important criteria for most people are lot and house size, front and back yard, choice of neighborhood, price range, and down payment.
- Don’t forget a short introduction! This is often overlooked, but can transform your questionnaire from a cold piece of paper into a warm, friendly survey. Use the introduction to explain why it’s in their best interest to spend time answering, how the process can benefit THEM, and the type of answers that will be most effective to help find the home of their dreams.
- Avoid open-ended questions. Stick with concrete questions that direct buyers to fill out the specific information you want. Open-ended questions are intimidating, and often lead to ambiguous answers. (Eg: Ask: “How many bedrooms and bathrooms are you looking for?” Instead of: “What size house are you looking for?”)
- Use the fewest number of fields to get contact information. Questionnaires are a great chance to get an email address and cell-phone number. On the other hand, some agents get carried away, asking for street address, 2 or 3 phone numbers, employment address, and more. It’s important to not bombard people or seem intrusive. All you need is their email address to turn them into a genuine lead, which is where the real value is.
Your questionnaire can be a valuable tool, but it’s important to keep the process simple and painless for buyers, and show them you’re not invading their privacy. Whether you’re using more traditional methods, like a standard form, keep your questions short and targeted so you get all the information you need, while still earning the trust and confidence of buyers.