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Potential Homebuyers: How to Tell if They’re Bluffing or All In

August 6, 2012

From Sandie Tate

In poker, the most successful players are those who know how to read subtle gestures to determine if their competition really has a good hand. Reading homebuyers is a bit of an art, too. Without knowing it, buyers give off hints about how serious they are when touring a home. If sellers or their agents observe these signs, it can give a foreshadowing of whether an offer may result or not.

Signs A Buyer Is Interested:

  1.  Length of time inside:  A quick in/out inspection shows that no matter what they say, the potential homebuyers were uninterested. Those who stay inside longer are often visualizing what they would do with the home and discussing features they may wish to change if they took ownership.
  2. Criticizing aspects of the house:  It sounds odd, but when buyers don’t plan to write an offer, they tend to offer polite compliments on the property almost as a way of offsetting their rejection of the home. They may also feel guilty for inconveniencing the sellers or their agent, so they overcompensate with glowing remarks.  In addition, according to Sid Davis who wrote, A Survival Guide to Selling a Home, older buyers seem to think that by spotlighting flaws in the home, they have greater negotiating power.
  3. Describe furniture placement or begin assigning rooms: When a homebuyer becomes attached to a house and begins to imagine what they would do with the rooms to make them their own, they’re more likely to make an offer. You might hear them talk about getting new furniture for certain rooms or replacing the carpet with wood floors, or deciding which child would be in what room. All are good signs.
  4. Drive-bys: If you see that same minivan go by several times, you might have an interested buyer on your hands. After walking through your home, it’s not uncommon for buyers to drive by with other friends or family to let them catch a glimpse.
  5. Discussion of dates/move-in timing: There’s really no reason to ask questions about move-in dates unless the buyer is thinking of moving in!  Obvious, right? Even if they bring it up casually, that’s a serious question that shows they’ve probably already made up their mind to make an offer, but they need details on dates to coordinate financing, school, jobs, or vacation time to make the move happen.

One final hint… if you have the opportunity, listen to ALL of the family members viewing the house – not just those you think will make the decision. Children have a lot of influence on their parents. Their positive or negative comments may indicate whether an offer will be forthcoming.

Sources: The Morning Call, SalesMBA

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