Brokerage best practices

Questions commercial real estate agents should ask every buyer

November 15, 2021

Commercial real estate buyers can be a wide ranging group of people. You could be dealing with a successful local business person one moment and then helping a new entrepreneur through the experience of buying property for their first time the next moment. You have to be ready to work with every character that may come your way.

Download the 8-point CRE prospecting checklist

However, you also have to manage your time effectively and ensure that you are maximizing every minute of your day to produce more sales and more success for both you and your clients. Asking some important questions can help you prioritize your time and ensure you give the right amount of attention to the people who are going to help you be successful.

1. “What business are you in?”

This seems like a simple enough question to ask, right? Of course you’re going to ask what kind of business they are in. It’s how you listen and follow up the buyer’s answer that makes this question so important. Essentially you are profiling the buyer. How much experience do they have? What industry are they in? How long have they been in business? Starting off with a simple question like, “What business are you in?” is essential to building a line of questioning that can reveal a lot about the person you are working with. Once you have a better understanding of who they are and what their needs are you can begin forming a targeted, personalized solution that shows your professionalism and, most importantly, helps you make the most of your time working with this commercial real estate buyer.

2. “Are there any partners involved?”

This is a great question to quickly find out if you are speaking to the person making the decisions or if they sent their nephew to get some information from you. Of course, you never want to turn any legitimate buyer away but there is no point in spending an entire afternoon working with someone who has no power to make decisions. In cases like these, have a quick elevator speech planned to make the client feel valued rather than pushed out the door. After all, they may not be the decision maker but their opinion may be taken into strong consideration. Try to glean as much information as you can from the person in front of you even if they aren’t the decision maker. Get contact information including email addresses and phone numbers. Try to get as much of the story about the business as you can. This will make following up with qualified decision makers much easier.

If you have all decision makers in front of you then you can feel confident in putting extra time into the meeting. Remember, you need to maximize your time and one of the most important questions to ask buyers is simply to find out if they are actually the person you need to be giving your time and focus to or if they are simply the middleman.

3. “What are your needs?”

At this point you know you are speaking to the decision maker and you have a basic understanding of their business. You may already have a few commercial real estate properties in mind to show this buyer. However, you need to ensure that you have a complete understanding of their needs. This all comes back to managing your time effectively. Some answers to this question will be obvious. If you are meeting with a lawyer who says they need a stylish reception area for their high-powered clients then that likely won’t come as a surprise. However, some commercial real estate buyers may reveal little nuggets of gold that help you find them the perfect property. Listen to their needs for the finer details that may not immediately be obvious. Be sure to track these conversations carefully as the smallest bit of information could turn into a huge deal down the road.

Another great reason to ask this question is because it helps you qualify buyers a little more thoroughly. If a new entrepreneur says they need a massive warehouse and someone who can provide them funding despite having no security, credit, or cash flow history then you may want to temper their expectations and try to redirect their focus. An unreasonable or unrealistic buyer can tie up a lot of your time while offering no results when all is said and done. This is why having some basic real estate questions to ask buyers is so important.

4. “When can we look at this property together?”

If you are experienced in real estate, then you already know that the most important part of making a sale is asking for that sale. Once you feel you have enough information to invest time into a commercial real estate buyer then you need to have a go-to line in your back pocket that advances the process. This is also a great way to see how serious buyers are. If they make excuses or try to delay the process then perhaps they are simply not ready to buy right now. Keep them in your contact list, follow up regularly, but don’t whisk them out to properties if you aren’t confident that they are serious.

On the other hand, if the buyer gives you a straight up answer and opens their calendar app on their phone to make an appointment then you can feel confident they are ready to move ahead and your time will be well spent. Commercial real estate buyers will always have a lot of questions. Of course, you are there to answer those questions. However, there is plenty of time for them to ask questions and get information. You still have to move the process forward and that can be done simply by asking for the sale.

Make this your own

You don’t have to use the above questions verbatim or create a real estate buyer questionnaire form that they complete before visiting you. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. The real secret to having success when asking questions is to make the process your own. This needs to be natural. In some cases this may be your opportunity to make a good first impression with a buyer. Tailor the questions to your community, your specific area of expertise or previous experience. You are not an order taker or a search engine. You are a trusted advisor that commercial real estate buyers are looking to for guidance on one of the biggest decisions they may make in their life.

Better questions equal better deals

A new, inexperienced commercial real estate agent may get excited about taking potential buyers to see properties. As your business grows you will learn that there are some people who simply are not ready to buy. That doesn’t mean you completely ignore these people. It simply means that you need to prioritize your time better to ensure that the legitimate buyers in your pipeline get the attention they deserve.

Asking better questions leads to better deals for you and your buyers. Without a good line of questioning you may end up working with someone who is, quite simply, going to waste your time. You may also be doing your buyer a disservice by showing them properties that do not appeal to them or meet their unique needs. It may seem silly at first but a basic line of questioning can help you make the most of every minute in your day. As your business begins to grow, those minutes could be valuable beyond what you could have ever imagined.

You want to be seen as a professional, trusted advisor. Asking the right questions helps you show your client that you know what you’re doing. Buyers will appreciate that you are taking the time to understand their business. Most importantly, this helps you build your own personal brand. Do you want to be known as the commercial real estate agent who blindly takes people to see properties they have no interest in or do you want to be known as the agent that cuts through the noise and nonsense to find the perfect property where buyers can grow the business they have always dreamed of? We all know the answer to that question.

Download the 8-point CRE prospecting checklist

You might also like