The list is out, and it seems that Oakland once again tops the list of turnaround markets in the US. We have sent representatives from UptownPlaceHomes (Sarah Carlo and John Haggins – two newbie negotiators who have just graduated from University of Bradford and University of Westminister respectively) to go interview the top three real estate agencies in Oakland to ask about their secrets of success.

According to Charles Mint, the president, founder and CEO of Mint Associates LLC (one of the top performing agencies in Oakland), the trick to turnaround is to know to deal with non-serious buyers.

Here’s what Mint said:

When you’re selling your homes these non-serious buyers are just about everywhere. They go at your open houses, ask you tons of questions, and sometimes even book a showing with you. Pros hate them, and you dear FSBO buyer does too. They ask so many questions and act so weirdly and convincingly serious that you almost seriously swore you love them until you text them and ask if they have made a final decision on the house and then they drop the bomb: we’re not buying just yet, we’re still looking.

Boom. Way to go. Way to crush your hopes and make you sullenly think about having to go back to square one. Oh, and way to make you doubt every single ‘looker’ from then on. :)

But here’s something you will have to understand in FSBO: there will be more non-serious looky Lou’s than serious buyers and you’d have to treat them all exactly the same way. But of course there are ways to save you time and effort as far as this dilemma is concerned.

“I know UptownPlaceHomes now deal with Malaysian real estate, so here’s what I think. Let’s say you’re selling a unit in Mont Kiara, say, the majestic 11 Mont Kiara. You’ll get more non-serious buyers who can hardly afford the $3,000,000 price tag anyway. You need to qualify them as much as possible. Don’t be afraid to turn away leads,” said Mint.

Mint also offered the following guidance:-

  • Figure out early on whether or not you’re dealing with a serious buyer or just the opposite of that. You can’t do that with just a single look, so you’ll have to deal with this through conversations. Ask the right questions, pry on the subject as discreetly as you could. Ask about reasons for moving, what type of house they are exactly looking for, the target dates for moving, and how much they are willing to spend on a house. It would also be very helpful if you could ask them some generic but significant details of their mortgage. Your ‘suspected non buyer’ will likely spill the beans about them ‘just looking’ sooner than they actually might.
  • Just tell them the good stuff about the house just the same way you would to a serious buyer. This is still networking nonetheless and they might come back for the house should you still be up for sale sometime later. Or they might know someone who’s more serious about buying a house that because of your being nice, they might refer your house to their buying friend instead.
  • Don’t compromise on the price just because you think they are non-serious and that you are merely talking. You can never be too complacent and play along when they pretend to be negotiating. Like I said, treat them like serious buyers and ‘negotiate’ with them keeping in mind your actual and serious price for serious buyers but don’t put too much focus on them. Focus all your attention, instead, on the serious ones (their preapproval is a perfect giveaway though there are actually serious buyers who don’t believe they need to get preapproved).
  • Do not for one second be intimidated by them. Instead of letting them take the lead in the conversation, take the driver’s seat and ask them questions. Yes, intimidate them with your factual questions. Sooner or later, they’ll realize they have to business wasting your time because you won’t allow it and won’t bug you anymore. Now let them handle that!