House Hunting checklist: A game changer for real estate agents

A house hunting checklist for your new buyers is the perfect way to showcase your abilities as an expert agent – and convince new customers that they’ve made the right decision in partnering with you.

More involved than the “regular” checklist we all know (comprising of tick box options assessing property condition and internal and external features), what about creating a higher-level checklist around financial readiness, legal documentation and so on, to present to new clients – maybe even include a glossary of terms or a local guide? 

The purpose is to continue the conversation with new buyers while showing them that you’re truly invested in finding them a fantastic home amid an ongoing relationship of trust and transparency. And everyone likes something for free.

It’s easy to forget that buying a house is a daunting and pressurised commitment. Even experienced buyers want that extra assurance that they have everything covered. Others might be afraid to ask. Basically, there’s nothing too obvious for a checklist and guiding them through some of the key parts of the process will be appreciated.

First-time buyers accounted for approximately 25% of NZ house purchases in August 2022 (CoreLogic) – that’s a lot of people looking to buy and a lot of information to take in. Then there are the “older” buyers who have lived in the same property for 30-40 years. The housing market looks a little different in 2023 compared to 1993, so a multi-layered checklist will be just the thing.

To begin compiling your checklist, think about what questions you get asked the most –, particularly from first-time buyers. It’s your checklist, but here are some ideas you may like to consider:


Build the team

Buyers need a good team to support them through the process. Friends and family for support and advice, a mortgage lender for the finances, lawyers to explain their legal obligations, maybe even a builder to assess potential properties and then, of course, you!


Understand the lingo

Do your clients know their LIMs from their LVR and QVs and conditional agreements, understand why they’re necessary and when and why they should be acquired? What about creating a glossary to go with your checklist? You’ve probably got your own resource sitting in the office which you can turn into added-value client-facing collateral. 


The local area

Everyone wants something different from an area – it’s not all about school zones and beaches. Shops, medical services, libraries, petrol stations – list the most relevant ones you always get asked about, and which the local area does well. Also, a fun local guide will really set your service apart from the competition.

Timelines, timelines

New buyers love ticking off each stage as they get closer to move-in day. Home loan approval, tick. Lawyer, tick. Conditional and unconditional offers, tick, tick. You know the sort of thing. Clients get frustrated and impatient when they think nothing is happening. This will help buyers set expectations and keep them confident and engaged.


The after costs

Many first-time buyers get so wrapped up in the excitement of owning their first home that they forget, or just don’t consider, what comes during and after. Through a checklist, you can remind new buyers about those extra costs such as finding a good removal company (you might like to recommend someone), insurance, and having enough leftover cash for the fun stuff, such as decoration, renovations, and even furniture.


Make yourself available

Remind clients in your checklist that you’re there for them. Real estate agents are confidants, advisors and sometimes friends. Buyers will go through a period of panic – either downcast that they can’t find the perfect property or that bidding proves unsuccessful. Being available will invariably take them back to that initial meeting and remind them why they’re doing this. Make sure your details are included wherever possible.


Final thoughts

You’ll have your own thoughts about what could go in a checklist; advice on negotiating and bidding, more detailed advice around finances, and what it means to have in place a ‘Plan B’. It’s up to you!

Creating a house-buying checklist can be the difference between getting a sale because an organised buyer is a strong buyer. A checklist is also a great way to help buyers think hard about the next steps and what’s coming up on the horizon.

Aside from being a nice hand-out for clients, a house hunting checklist does much, much more because it shows new clients you have their best interests at heart and it will set you apart from the competition.

Highlighting some of the considerations they need to factor into their next purchase will help them to be flexible, realistic and knowledgeable. Easy to create and an effective low-cost return on investment, a house hunting checklist tells clients that you’re the go-to local expert and that you’re willing to go that extra yard to help them win. 


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