How to know a Serious Buyer from a Serial Browser

Knowing the difference between a serious buyer and a serial browser is a skill that experienced real estate agents have honed over time with extensive exposure to both characters. Sellers and agents alike encounter a stream of potential buyers at show houses, but whether or not these individuals are serious  about purchasing property is another story altogether.  


For the most part the purchasing process follows a standard course: Understanding how prospective buyers enter and navigate the property market is invaluable in evaluating a buyer’s authenticity.  


How to Know a Serious Buyer?

The decision to commit time, energy and finances to purchasing a new property is not one taken lightly. It goes without saying then that the most telling sign that a buyer means business is that they have spent time researching the areas, suburbs or estate they are interested in buying in. Prospective buyers will approach the market with a figure in mind - an approximate value of what they feel they can afford - leading them to begin their research online by investigating what’s currently available and on offer on various property websites.


This gives a good indication as to how active the market is in their specified area, and allows for selling price and spec comparisons. Oftentimes the buyer will seek the area agent’s advice and expertise on what the average home in the area is selling for, market movement and stock availability. They may ask to be notified when properties that meet their criteria become available and will begin attending show days in their chosen suburb and surrounds. A genuine buyer will approach a show house or viewing purposefully; they will view properties that already meet their requirements with the intention of finding their dream home. Keeping their finger on the pulse, they are often the first to enquire about newly listed properties that meet their requirements.  


Another telltale sign that a buyer is serious is that they will request to see the property more than once and will ask pointed questions when inspecting the home. For example, the level of genuine interest in the property, what offers the seller is accepting, and if any offers are currently being considered – knowing full-well that there is a large difference between buyer interest and a signed offer to purchase! In many cases the purchaser will obtain a mortgage pre-approval because it strengthens their buying power, and will mention this to the agent/seller.  


The next step in the buying process is undoubtedly the offer. The hours spent researching market values and trends put the astute buyer at an advantage because they are more aware of what a property of a similar type and size in that particular area should sell for. They put a market-related offer forward on a property they feel is competitively priced. Keep in mind that buyers will always want to purchase a property for the lowest possible price, regardless of how serious they are. That said, because they are genuinely interested in making this their home these buyers tend to make realistic, competitive offers that are high enough to qualify but remain in line with accurate market prices in the complex/area.  


For this very reason estate agents often encourage sellers to consider the first offer received. Delaying in the hopes of receiving a higher offer could potentially cost you in the long run. Time is money and in today’s property market a timeous sales transaction is worth its weight in gold. The time, energy and money it costs to keep a property on the market for more than a few months places undue stress on a seller, particularly if the purchase of the seller’s new property is subject to the sale of their current home.  


Sellers are thus advised to consider good offers with limited conditions attached to the sales transaction even if they are lower than anticipated. A reputable estate agent is able to advise on all aspects of the sales process, including accepting offers.