VOLUME VQuestions To Ask Before Showing a HomeBy Jonathan PressmanRenters are usually eager to start seeing homes immediately. However, it’s important to take a step back and ask certain questions before showing a home. Setting expectations and avoiding miscommunications will save time and get to the closing table sooner.

“Are You Working With a Realtor?”The National Association of Realtors (NAR) Code of Ethics (Standard of Practice 16-9) deems it unethical for Realtors to solicit clients who have exclusive agency agreements with another Realtor. Besides being a violation of NAR ethics, showing a home to a tenant who is already working with another Realtor likely means that representative will not be compensated. In some cases, this may also be an indicator of a prospective renter who is either overwhelmingly picky or has a bad credit file. Ask why this client is looking elsewhere to make sure the issue is not Realtor-tenant conflict and really a matter of monetary issues.

“When Are You Moving?”The real estate market moves quickly, so today’s inventory may not be available next month. Showing homes to a tenant who doesn’t intend on moving for six months can be inefficient, and result in wasted time for Realtors and landlords. Walk-throughs should be no earlier than 30-45 days from the move-in date; most landlords will not hold a rental for more than a month if they don’t have to. For repeat clients, calendars come in handy to know when renters will need to either renew their leases or find some place new to live. Also, the closer they are to needing a new home, the less particular they may be.

“Do You Have Any Pets?”Animals can be important family members to the 70% of American households who own pets, often influencing buying decisions. In a 2020 NAR survey, 43% of households reported a willingness to move to better accommodate their pets. Tenants aren’t the only ones who care about pets. Some landlords and condo associations charge pet fees, and impose restrictions based on size, breed and number of pets—or prohibit pets altogether. Knowing all pet details beforehand can save both the Realtors and renters valuable time to look elsewhere.

“What’s Your Price Range?”Rental rates are commonly a limiting factor in real estate, and Realtors should help their clients search for homes that fit that budget. While some clients may be interested in viewing dozens of rentals in all price ranges, asking about the price range beforehand lets Realtors know if they’re in their farming price. For example, if a Realtor only works with clients who have a minimum monthly rental price of $2,000, then a prospective renter with a budget of $1,300 to $1,500 is not realistic.

“What Part of Town Do You Prefer?”The popular mantra “location, location, location” is true, in large part because location is necessary for schooling, proximity to jobs, transportation, shopping, entertainment and more. Inquiring about what part of town a tenant wants to live in will help Realtors select homes for their clients in the appropriate locale. This will also be significant if the Realtor is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with showing places in certain areas.

“How Many Bedrooms Do You Need?”The number of bedrooms in a house can easily make or break a customer’s decision to rent a home. Realtors should ascertain the minimum number of bedrooms a client needs, and, unless otherwise agreed upon, only show homes that have at least that many bedrooms.

The Right Questions Get Better Home ResultsWhile putting a showing on hold to ask a prospective client these queries may feel time-consuming, remember that the answers are beneficial for everyone. Some Q&A will be non-negotiable; other answers have wiggle room. Realtors can use this information to provide better service to their clients, in addition to ensuring compliance with the NAR’s Code of Ethics.

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