Real estate buyers’ agents are BUSY. Buyers can be time-consuming because they have a ton of questions and need plenty of attention from you. They can make life as a buyer’s agent a little crazier than most of us would like. Here at The Close, we know that your desire to serve your clients is limitless—but that doesn’t mean your time is too.
That’s why we put together five life-saving checklists you can share with buyers to help answer their questions before they arise. Our checklists will empower your clients to play a more active role in their transactions—giving you back some of your time to foster more client relationships and grow your business.
Real Estate Buyer Agent Checklist #1: Mortgage Pre-approval
Most homebuyers (especially first-time homebuyers) walk into your office with a twinkle in their eye, excited about a brand-new adventure. A call to their mortgage broker will quickly turn that twinkle into stress as they begin to understand what they’ll need to do to secure a mortgage pre-approval letter.
Though there’s a lot of paperwork needed to complete the pre-approval process, most of it isn’t complicated. Our Mortgage Pre-approval Checklist can be a powerful tool to help keep track of the many tasks involved.
[Related article: 15 Powerful Timesavers Top Buyers’ Agents Use to Close Deals Faster]
Tips for Using the Mortgage Pre-approval Checklist
- Customize it: There’s no standard document list needed to get a mortgage pre-approval—every lender is a little bit different. Work with your client’s lender to ensure everything they need is on your list. Customizing it will help you avoid confusion.
- Check in often: Some buyers will go home and gather every piece of paperwork they need in a single evening. These are great clients to have, but let’s be honest, they’re not typical. Check in with your clients to see where they’re at on completing their checklist—a little bit of accountability goes a long way here.
- Partner with a lender: Want to turn your mortgage pre-approval checklist into a lead generation tool? Partner with a local lender to present a co-branded checklist to create a mutually beneficial referral system. You can suggest a great lender to your buyers, and your partner lender can share the checklist with their clients and recommend you as a great real estate agent for their transaction.
Real Estate Buyer Agent Checklist #2: Successful House-hunting
Some of the most challenging real estate buyer clients are the ones who suffer from “shiny object syndrome.” They are easily distracted by homes outside of their price range, that don’t meet their needs, or homes in locations that don’t work for them. And yet, they want to see those homes because there’s something intriguing in the listing.
You can better serve these clients by presenting them with the Successful House-hunting Checklist, which gives them a filter to use on every home they’re considering to make sure it’s worth pursuing. Our checklist also includes a showing sheet your clients can bring to a property to help them compare it to other homes they’ve seen.
[Related article: How to Educate Unrealistic Buyers & Convert More Leads (Quickly)]
Tips for Using the Successful House-hunting Checklist
- Start together: Establish a baseline for the home your clients are looking for using the first half of this checklist. Guide them on the must-haves they may not be thinking about as you complete this half of the checklist together.
- Make lots of copies: The real power of this checklist is the second page—where buyers can record their thoughts about the properties they’re seeing. This feature becomes more powerful when comparing multiple second pages and provides a more objective and logic-driven approach to homebuying.
- Make a plan to revisit it: If your buyers aren’t finding the home they want, it could be that they’ve set some unrealistic expectations. If you’ve seen more than six properties and they still haven’t asked you to write an offer, make a plan to revisit the first half of the checklist to see if it needs adjustment.
Real Estate Buyer Agent Checklist #3: Open House Attendance
Once a buyer has signed with a buyer’s agent, that shouldn’t preclude them from attending open houses independently. Your buyers can view properties without you while you maintain full agency, and they work on their timetable, spending as much time in each home as they’d like.
However, the downside to your buyers attending open houses without you is that they may forget to ask the most important questions. Your absence creates more work for you because you may have to follow up with phone calls or schedule another showing, and ultimately, this strategy may not save you any time or effort.
Our Open House Attendance Checklist puts all the most critical questions your buyers need to ask in one place. If they think a home is one they’d consider writing an offer on, this checklist informs them of the important details that you’d inquire about if you were showing them the property yourself.
[Related article: How to Win Bidding Wars: Tips From 11 Top Producing Agents]
Tips for Using the Open House Attendance Checklist
- Explain it first: Many of the questions on this checklist are relatively technical. You should walk your clients through them step-by-step first, so they understand why they need to ask them and what they’re listening for in the responses.
- Make it digital: Buyers don’t always sit down and plan out their open house attendance. More often than not, buyers see an open house on the way home from the farmers’ market or while they’re out for a family bike ride. As such, making sure this checklist is something your buyer can have on their phone will increase the likelihood that they’ll use it.
- Add local market questions: Use our checklist as a starting point, not a finished product, because every market is slightly different. If there are specific questions that you always ask when showing properties, make sure you add them to our checklist before providing it to your buyers.
Real Estate Buyer Agent Checklist #4: Writing a Successful Offer
When it comes time to write an offer on a property, many buyers rely heavily on their agents for the specific terms and conditions necessary to get them the best deal. But when time is of the essence (especially now in a very competitive market), you may not have time to review every clause of an offer contract.
Using this Successful Offer Checklist allows you to go through each major contract term, such as price, down payment, earnest money deposit (EMD), inspection, appraisal, possession, and more. Your buyer clients will know exactly what each term means and how each one impacts their deal before putting ink to paper.
[Related article: 7 Creative Strategies to Make Your Offers Stand Out in a Seller’s Market]
Tips for Using the Writing a Successful Offer Checklist
- Complete it early: Don’t wait until you’ve found the “perfect house” before talking about this checklist. Consider filling it out with your buyers before you’ve seen a single property. That way, emotions and the heat of the moment won’t be driving their decisions.
- Don’t accept vague buyer responses: Don’t let your buyers get away with vague or generalized answers to the checklist questions. If they’re not sure on a particular point, push them to add a range of responses, rather than no response at all. For example, when it comes to possession date, an unacceptable response is “whenever works.” A more acceptable answer is “any time within 30 days of closing.”
- Use this checklist when bargaining: Encourage your clients to empower you to negotiate on their behalf using the guidelines they set out in this checklist. Doing so will allow you to joust a bit more with the seller’s agent in conversation. Deals get done faster and more frequently when you’re not tied to negotiating only via written offers and counteroffers.
Real Estate Buyer Agent Checklist #5: Contract-to-Close
Getting a property under contract for a buyer seems like the hard part, but the biggest purchase challenges often arise during escrow—in the period between when the contract is signed and when the deal closes.
Buyers need to complete many tasks before they can get their keys, and many of these must be executed in a specific window of time. Our Contract-to-Close Checklist breaks down the primary buyer responsibilities required to reach the closing table. It also breaks them down week by week to keep the transaction on track for your closing date.
Tips for Using the Contract-to-Close Checklist
- Partner with a closing company: Find a closing company to team up with for this checklist for the same reason that you partnered with a mortgage company for your pre-approval checklist. It’s a win-win! The closing company gets a referral source of clients, and you get potential buyers heading your way in the event that your chosen closing company has clients seeking a real estate agent.
- Go granular: Our checklist lays out the major tasks that need to be accomplished, but don’t be afraid to include smaller tasks. Remind your buyers to approve inspection reports, follow up with mortgage underwriters, or create a timeline for their moving day. If there are smaller tasks that would benefit your buyers, add them.
- Make a checklist for yourself: Having a buyer checklist is helpful because you know your buyers will be in the know about what’s happening and what’s required of them. Create an equivalent checklist for yourself with your responsibilities as they relate to each of your client’s responsibilities, then follow along with their progress while making your own progress.
We hope that you customize these checklists for you and your market and start using them with your buyers right away.
If you’re looking for information on how you can be the best buyer’s agent in your market, The Close has you covered. Start by checking out our proven strategies for getting more buyer clients. We’ve got tips here on using specific lead generation platforms, plus things you can do with and for your clients to get better reviews and more referrals.
And if you’re looking for more lead generation ideas, we’ve got a fantastic list for you to check out: 37 Underrated Real Estate Lead Generation Ideas for 2022.