How To Answer Tough Questions From Potential Home Buyers

questionsTo some home sellers, there is nothing scarier than the thought of answering questions from a potential buyer. If a potential buyer is asking questions about your home, that means they are interested in it at some level. This is exciting because it is what all the hard work has led up to, but frightening because you may feel you can scare them off with the wrong answer. So thinking of an answer that will keep them interested might increase anxiety to a very uncomfortable level.

The good news is that there is a simple solution: Be honest. There’s a good chance the buyer (or their agent) already knows the answer. And if they don’t, and it’s a real important question to them, they may seek an outside source for an opinion (i.e., home inspector, neighbors).

But most importantly, if you lie, and this potential buyer eventually finds out, it could lead to them backing out of the home sale. If the home sale has already happened, they may be able to take legal action against you. This is definitely not worth the cost of lying.

As you look to sell your home, keep in mind that no home is perfect (there may be a home that is perfect for you, but that’s another topic). From dents in the walls to little scratches in the hardwood to a door that won’t quite latch, homes tend to develop ‘character’ from the moment someone moves in.

When potential home buyers walk through your home during an open house, they will have an understanding that even if they are looking for a ‘move in ready’ home, some minor repairs will need attention over time. Unless they are going to buy a new home, this will be the case. And you can feel pretty confident that all the other homes they have seen have comparable scars. So while I do recommend doing your best in fixing your home up and staging it for buyers, it is understandable that not everything can be addressed due to available resources (whether it’s time, skill, money or a combination of them).

What should you do if there is a major issue (or issues) with your home?

If it is a major issue that may impact the livability of a home (i.e., the roof leaks or the basement floods), hopefully you have addressed the issue. From that standpoint, the problem will have been remediated. If a home buyer asks about it, you can let them know that there was once an issue but it was fixed.

There may be issues that you are not aware of. If you have never popped your head into your attic you may not know that there is mold growing in the corner. You may have never measured the Radon level of your basement to know if it is high or not. These would be items for the home owner and their home inspector to find out.

If they ask questions regarding timeframes (i.e., when was the last time the septic was pumped, the roof was replace, the driveway was sealed), they most likely understand that they will have to budget for these items, so they aren’t expecting an answer of ‘just last week’. They want to get a better feel for what their monthly or annual expenditures would be if they purchased the home.

On a similar note, they may also ask about average energy bills. If you are willing to give them an answer, be honest. But you don’t have to give them an answer (although it may look like you are hiding something if you are not willing to do so). In reality, energy bills typically do not scare people away, as the bills tend to be closely associated with the size of a home in a particular area. So if they think your bill is too high, they probably will be looking for a smaller home if the plan to continue looking in the same area.

Whatever the issues, you should be prepared in regards to the potential impact they may have on the terms of the transaction. If home buyers are willing to move forward with the sale, as long as you put money in escrow should an issue arise, are you willing to do that? If problems are discovered during the home buyer’s inspection, are you willing to pay for them to be fixed, or reduce the selling price? Or will you hold firm? Having knowledge of what you can afford to do, and what you may be willing to do, beforehand can make the process go easier.

Do you think your home has issues that will keep it from selling? Please give me a call. We’ll discuss the situation and see if we can develop a plan to move forward.