Sales Clinic: 20 Questions to Ask Sellers Before the Listing Presentation

Having a list of questions to ask sellers prior to meeting with them gives you an edge over your competitors.

The phone rings and the butterflies start … it’s a potential listing! Your mind immediately rushes to how you’re going to impress the sellers, beat out the competition, obtain a signature on a saleable listing, and find interested buyers. But wait—the most important part of prospecting for new clients is happening right now and you’re woefully unprepared! Remember that the salesperson who knows the most about the seller before the listing presentation wins the business. The purpose of this column is to prepare you for that incoming seller phone call, so you can arm yourself with information that will give you an edge.

When sellers call, pull out the following list of questions. People love to deal with an organized, consistent service provider, and these questions will demonstrate your professionalism.

First, fill out the basic information about the seller.

Today’s Date:
Seller’s Name:
Mailing Address:
Phone (H):
Phone (W):

Next, ask sellers these 20 questions prior to meeting with them.

  1. How did you hear about me/who referred you?
  2. Who else are you interviewing? (Remember, you want to be the seller’s last appointment. To make this happen, you can say, “After you meet with other salespeople, you’ll likely have quite a few questions for me. I can better serve you if you have a maximum number of questions available at the time of our meeting.”)
  3. Would it be possible for all decision makers to be present to meet with me? Is it possible to meet at my office? If not, then where?
  4. What are the names of the people who will be present during our meeting? (You can then address all the attendees by name when you meet them.)
  5. Why do you want to sell?
  6. When do you need to sell?
  7. At what price do you want to list your property?
  8. How much are your underlying loans?
  9. Can you tell me about your property?
    • Type:
    • Square Feet:
    • Bed/Bath:
    • Income (for rental property):
    • Length of lease (for rental property):
  10. What other amenities does the property offer?
  11. What criteria are you going to use in hiring listing agent?
  12. May I ask you to wait to make a decision on your listing agent until you meet with me?
  13. If I answer all of your questions to your satisfaction, will you list your property when you meet with me?
  14. I will be sending/delivering/offering on my Web site a little pre-meeting information packet. Can you please review it before meeting with me?
  15. Do you own any other properties in the area? If yes, where?
  16. Are you thinking about listing those also?
  17. Where are you moving?
  18. Do you know a real estate professional there?
  19. Do you need a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange?
  20. Would you like to meet with my company’s CPA at no charge? (If a CPA is part of your team, this is a way that you can provide potential sellers with a value-added service. The CPA also can answer the seller’s questions about whether a 1031 Tax Deferred Exchange is needed in listing multiple properties and other tax ramifications of listing a property.)

Thank callers for their time, and tell them how much you’re looking forward to the meeting. Voilà. You now have enough information about the sellers and their needs to impress them at the listing presentation. For example, you can now impress them by addressing everyone at the listing presentation by name because you already know their names, and showing your knowledge of the seller’s property by saying, “I’ve researched other homes in this area that also have three bedrooms and two baths with similar upgrades to your home, and here’s what I found…”

Prospecting for clients is one of the most important aspects of real estate, and obtaining a listing in today’s competitive market can be very challenging. Knowing more than your competitors do before you show up for the listing presentation will enable you to offer more tailored information to the sellers and win the listing.