When I meet with a Berks County home owner who is thinking about selling, many questions are asked. One particular question that is being asked more and more is “Will my home be shown to qualified buyers?”. What I find they are really asking is “Will people who have no business being in my home be allowed to see it?” Unfortunately, I know my answer will not please them, unless I am showing the home myself.
Just 6 or 7 years ago this question was not often asked. Everyone was qualified. Ask any lender. From 2004 to 2006 there wasn’t a customer the lenders did not like. We now are living with the results of that situation.
Obviously, things are different today. Ask anyone trying to get a home mortgage. The lenders now want the names of children that are not yet born before they will part with a dollar. This presents new challenges for agents and sellers of Berks County homes.
When Sharon Kehres, my Buyer Coordinator, and I get calls from prospective home buyers who want to see Berks County homes, we ask if they discussed their purchase qualifications with a mortgage lender or bank. If the answer is “Yes” we proceed to ask who the lender is and if they have corresponding documentation. If they do, we are ready to go. If the answer is “No”, we employ a different form of questioning.
There are times you can have a discussion with a prospective Berks County home buyer and find out they are well qualified. This is known as conversational qualification. If it is still not clear after discussion, we customarily ask if the buyer would consider meeting with a Berks County mortgage lender to substantiate their ability to purchase a home.
If they are serious buyers this is not an issue. It is easy for a prospective buyer to see the value in being prepared to purchase their next, or first, home. Being qualified makes them a stronger buyer candidate. This may allow them to purchase the Berks County home they desire before someone else, who is not as prepared, beats them to it.
If we are showing Berks County homes that I have listed it is not difficult to answer the question posed here. In some cases, another agent, working with a buyer shows our customer’s home. We simply hope the agent has qualified the buyer, asking the right questions prior to scheduling the showing.
A common scenario is as follows: An agent gets a call from a prospective home buyer. The buyer is calling about a specific home they saw on a web site. The agent asks the customer if they want to schedule a showing. The prospective buyer says “Yes”. The agent calls the Showing Time Center or logs onto the computer and schedules the showing. The buyer and agent meet for the first time at the home. Here is where the agent may start to discuss the buyers qualifications. Yes, this could be happening in your kitchen or family room when it should have happened at the agent’s office, prospective buyer’s residence or lender’s office. Your home was just used in an attempt to acquire a buyer.
Market conditions have a lot to do with a scenario like this. Things are not as busy as they used to be for most. Getting business at the expense of the sanctity of one’s home may be less an issue.
The concern of sellers is, if they do not accept every opportunity for their home to be shown, they may miss a sale. By asking the buyer’s agent to provide proof that a prospective buyer is qualified to purchase their Berks County home may deter some agents from showing the home. Even worse, it may deter the buyer from wanting to see it at all.
Fortunately, Berks County has many good real estate agents and Brokerages. There are agents I know personally who always qualify their buyers before showing them Berks County homes. The real issue is that standard business is to show first and ask questions later.
There are few sellers in Berks County that require a prospective buyer working with a cooperating agent to produce any evidence of a buyer’s qualifications before allowing a showing. This is more common with more expensive properties. Are expensive homes more important?
What if the standard changed? Suppose that every buyer had to produce a 1099, a pre-qualification letter from a mortgage lender or a personal financial statement? Would buyers and their agents refuse? Would this lower the amount of showings on homes? Probably yes. Would the quality of the showings rise? Absolutely!
Since 2001 agents have been required to have a prospect/customer review and sign a Consumer Notice when they first meet with them. If it is a phone conversation the agent would need to inform the buyer of the notice. This is to inform the prospect/customer of their rights as they relate to agency relationships in the real estate industry. In this age of technology would it be so hard to get prospective home buyers to sign a document that states they are qualified to purchase a home of “X” value with payments (including property taxes, insurance, etc…) of up to “Y”? It’s just another disclosure.
It would be great if we actually knew that everyone we showed a home to was truly qualified to purchase it. That will likely never happen. Our effort should be to consider making an attempt to protect the sanctity of peoples homes. Just because someone lists their home for sale does not mean they should allow it, or their time, to be taken for granted.
You see, I believe that if someone is interested in a home they will do what it takes to purchase it. I also believe their agent will assist in the endeavor. It is for this reason I have decided to ask agents who request seeing one of the customers’ homes I represent, to vouch for their buyer’s qualifications prior to the showing.
Sellers tell me that they expect Real Estate Professionals to work with qualified buyers. If this is true (and I think it is most of the time) this should not be hard to accomplish. It is the present standard that is the issue. the solution is simple, Courtesy and Professionalism.
Share your thoughts on this issue……