Out-of-state buyers?

Out-of-state buyers?

Working with buyers from hundreds or thousands of miles away can be a hectic process. However, it all becomes less stressful when you have a well-thought-out plan in place. Here are a few tips:

Helping out-of-state buyers find the perfect home in a hot seller’s market can be extremely frustrating for both homebuyers and agents. Multiple offers, short timelines and the complexities of helping someone miles away purchase a home can lead to extra stress and fewer closings. But these tried-and-true steps will take you from dreading those out-of-state buyer calls to waiting for them by the phone. 

1. Have a well-thought-out initial phone consultation

By far, the most critical step in this plan is the first phone consultation. On that first phone call, it’s important to lay out a detailed plan for how the whole process will go.

Remember that most people have never purchased a home under these specific circumstances, so it’s your job to walk them through every step. A well-planned initial phone call will include the following elements:

  • Learn what your buyers are looking for in a home, and set up an MLS search and subscription for them. 
  • Explain that the market is super hot and that it’s critical to get prequalified for a loan right away. Connect them with a lender you know can keep up in this market, if necessary.
  • Explain the step-by-step plan laid out below so they know how this process works.
  • Find out if they have a specific trip planned to your area soon, and block some space on your calendar.
  • Remind them to contact you directly with questions on homes rather than asking via sites like Zillow that will funnel them to other agents.

2. Follow up often during the ‘get to know you’ stage

During that first phone call, explain that they are now entering the “get to know you” phase of the process. Ask the buyers often via text or phone calls for feedback on what they’re liking and not liking in the home emails you’re sending them.

Offer insights into different parts of town, give them local knowledge they might not otherwise have, and modify their searches as needed. The more groundwork you can do before they come to town, the better. Share your local expert knowledge. What schools are best for them, and what parts of town might they enjoy? What local restaurants and shopping should they check out in order to see where they might want to live? 

Don’t just assume everything is OK. You might be sending them dozens of emails with homes they don’t like as they hunt for what they do like on sites like Zillow or with another agent.

3. Plan a trip for house tours

In spite of how simple this sounds, a surprising amount of people don’t yet have a plan to visit town. Explain to them the importance of putting something on the calendar as soon as possible. This helps create a timeframe for everyone to work from and ensures you have time in your schedule for the buyers when they arrive.

Make sure to set expectations for the trip well. How many homes will you see per day and over how many days? Creating a clear plan helps avoid the confusion and stress for both the buyers and you as the agent.

Some buyers may just not be able to come into town during the buying process, and that is just fine. Ask if they have any friends or family that are willing to tour some homes for them, or be prepared to video chat and explain the tours for them this way. 

4. Make offers on homes they like even before they come to town

In a market that’s this hot, hoping the house your buyers liked last week will still be available next Tuesday when they come to town just won’t work.

When we have buyers who are able to get to town within a few days or are comfortable buying sight unseen, we quickly go over and take a video tour of the house for them. If they really like it, we will write up an offer right away and try to seal the deal.

Once the offer is accepted, they can travel out and do their normal inspections. If for some reason it’s not the house for them, they can tour other homes while in town and cancel the current contract. Remind them of this option as most buyers have not thought of this and will be grateful to you for creatively finding a way to get them the jump on other buyers.

5. Assume they won’t find a house on their first visit, and plan accordingly

Of course, your top priority when your buyers arrive in town is to get them a house. However, there is a good chance that won’t happen. That’s why you should plan for that possibility when organizing their visit.

Part of your plan should include educating your buyers so they become much more comfortable making offers from out of state — that is, if they don’t find a house on this trip. Spend more time with visiting buyers than you normally would, they need the extra support for this purchase.

A well-educated buyer will be much more comfortable pulling the trigger from a thousand miles away — and that kind of offer might be necessary in this hectic market.

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