Potential Seller Listing Questions
(Setting High Expectations)
The most successful Agents follow a predictable and consistent listing process. When working to list a home, it is important to set proper expectations with the Seller from the initial interaction. This first step is extremely important as it sets the tone for the rest of the transaction and allows you to demonstrate your confidence and command of the home-selling process.
In the first phone conversation with a potential Seller, there is a mandatory “7 Question Intake Process”. This is to establish why they are moving, what their motivation level is, and what they are looking for in a listing agent.
If the listing inquiry comes in via email or text message, the intake questions will happen when you call them on the phone. It’s important that you talk to the Seller in person and hear their responses. Their inflections and tonality will be your first impression of their personality.
There will be times when people will try to schedule a listing appointment via email or message. Make sure to have a phone call with the Seller and complete the intake questions before going to a physical appointment – this is very important as it makes it so you maintain the process, not the other person. Even if the Seller is someone you have met, have known in the past, or is a warm referral you need to talk to them in person about the current situation before going to the property or meeting face-to-face.
On the phone call, ask how they “Learned About You” and other introductory questions to build a foundation of trust. The purpose here is to pick up on nuances of their personality along with gauging their intentions. Stay focused on the other person and what they are saying. Refrain from selling your services at this point…no bragging or going off on tangents. Your purpose is to take notes and see if this feels like a good fit for both sides.
It’s a best practice to type the 7 questions or have them on a place in your phone, so they are easily accessible. And remember, all of this is done in a conversational style – it should not feel like an interview. This is another reason why it is important to always carry a pen and notecard with you – you never know when a phone call might be from a potential Seller and you will want to take notes.
Here are the exact questions to ask:
- Why are you selling?
- When do you need to move?
- What does your transition look like?
- What do you like most about your home?
- Have you done any updates since you bought it?
- On a scale of 1-10, how would a Buyer rate the condition (with “10” being a new construction home of the same size.)
- What are you looking for in a Listing Agent; what’s the most important trait?
Once the Seller has answered the last question, schedule the listing appointment time and location. These 7 questions work perfectly because the conversation does not drag on to where the Seller gets annoyed, and you’ll have sufficient information to plan your approach with the listing. The first 3 questions give you an idea of the Seller’s motivation. If they do not give solid responses, they may not be highly motivated. The ones who know exactly why they want to move most always have their “Transition Plan” in place before reaching out to a listing agent.
Be cautious of the “We don’t have to sell” or “We’ll figure out the transition once we find a buyer” responses. You want to invest in Sellers who have an urgency – a specific reason or destination that they can verbalize. Questions 4, 5, and 6, will give you information on what to focus (and comment on) when you see the home in person, and they open the Seller to elaborating on the “Best Features” of their home. They will usually talk for a couple of minutes about what they like about their home and the lifestyle they have enjoyed. The “Scale of 1-10” question will provide a subjective answer; however, it does work to frame the Sellers’ perceptions. For example:
The Seller says, “Our house is a 9, the only thing holding it back is we never put in the pool.” Or “The house is a 7.5, but the yard and view is a 10+”.
Additionally, this question will determine if the Seller is living in a “Current Reality”. If they tell you “9.8” and you can tell from Google Earth that is not the case, there may be a pricing gap later in the listing process.
The last question is very revealing, so don’t neglect to ask it. (In fact, don’t neglect to ask any questions in this process, and keep your questions in the same order. The reason it is called a process is that the questions are a series of precepts that are built upon one another that leads to a formulated outcome.) The last question is “What are you looking for in a Listing Agent?” Listen carefully to what they say as this will become the way in which you approach them at the listing appointment. For example, they may say “Someone who knows how to sell an X kind of home”, or “Someone who is a strong negotiator”, or “Someone who is 100% Hands-on and can show the home when we are not there.” If the Seller does not respond with an answer that includes or alludes to the “Best result”, “Selling the home”, or “Getting the job done” they may not be highly motivated.
There will be times when the Seller will reveal that they have already chosen you in their mind and the listing appointment is only a formality. For example, when you ask, “What they are looking for in an Agent”, they may say:
“Someone like YOU, who sells a lot of homes in this price range” or “An Agent with experience in X kind of home, like the one YOU sold on Main Street last summer.”
The principle here is the “7 Question Intake Process” is invaluable to setting the proper expectations with a potential Seller… at the very first interaction. This will demonstrate that you are a proven Listing Agent with systems and processes that lead a client to success. The last step in the phone call is setting the listing appointment time, and location, and communicating what happens next.