Among the best real estate tips an agent will ever learn is to ask open-ended rather than closed-ended questions.
As a real estate agent, you might find yourself asking the same select litany of questions over and over again:
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you require?
- What’s the least amount of square footage you need?
- Do you require a basement, garage, or attic?
- Have you received a pre-approval letter?
- Are you ready to purchase a home now?
The problem with all of these questions, and others like them, are they only provide fixed and limited answers. Depending on the question, you either get a “Yes” or “No” answer or a particular figure.
But, once you know the size and features of a home and the readiness of the potential buyer, you still have a myriad of homes for your client to choose from with completely different qualities, features, and benefits. Those closed-ended questions alone don’t help you get any closer to fine-tuning your search to locate the perfect home for each buyer. For that, you need to ask open-ended questions.
What Are Open-ended Questions?
Open-ended questions are questions designed to encourage clients to provide more detailed, nuanced, and expansive responses.
An example of a closed-ended question for a real estate agent to ask a buyer might be: “Do you need a large kitchen?” The more useful, open-ended version of that might be, “How do you utilize your kitchen?” Find out whether they like to cook or typically eat take-out. Learn if they’re preparing meals for one or two people or a whole family. Do they host dinner guests often?
This gives you a better idea of not just the ideal size of kitchen for your client but the ideal kitchen overall for your client: whether it should be in an open or closed space, what types of appliances, cabinetry, and countertops might be best, if it needs a pantry, whether it should have a cozy breakfast nook or a formal dining area attached and so on.
Ask questions that get them to talk, to help you get to know them and see day-to-day life through their eyes, rather than simply provide you a list of cold, dry data.
Benefits of Open-ended Questions
Clients can get the answers to their basic questions about a home from the MLS listing; what they need your services as a real estate agent for is to dive deeper into that morass to help them find the exact home they’re looking for. Open-ended questions help you to fulfill that role.
As such, open-ended questions are among the most effective lead conversion strategies for real estate. When you ask open-ended questions, you gain greater insight into the client’s real wants and needs.
You can also use the clients’ answers to these questions to prompt you to ask more open-ended questions to further clarify and expand on what you’ve just learned. In this way, you can continue to fine-tune your client’s search to help you zero in on the home they’ll want to own.
In brief, open-ended questions help you glean meaningful info and make sure your clients feel valued and heard while propelling them further down their journey.
When to Use Open-ended Questions
One of the top real estate sales tips for working with a client or potential client is to use open-ended questions instead of sales pitches. And, you don’t just need to use them at the start of the relationship; your client can benefit from you asking open-ended questions at every stage of the home-buying process.
- During a cold call – They can help you glean your potential clients’ greatest priorities currently.
- While in discovery – They can help you reveal key factors that will inform their decision to purchase or not, such as how they make decisions and what they need in order to sign on the dotted line.
- In the later stages – They can help you, your clients, and your team to collaborate to produce the client’s best-case result.
Types of Open-ended Questions
According to the Brooks Group, you can break down most open-ended sales questions into several basic categories.
Problem questions help you get a better understanding of your client’s priorities and what challenges and problems are occupying their minds. Examples include:
- What are your top priorities in the home you’re seeking?
- What are the main problems with your current home that you’re trying to solve with your new home?
- What has been worrying you or frustrating you most about the home search or home-buying process?
Solution questions help you to begin devising client-focused solutions to these problems. Examples include:
- What does your dream home look like?
- What are your deal-breakers in a potential home?
- What qualities are you looking for in the real estate agent representing you?
Process questions help give you an idea of the steps required to close the deal. Examples include:
- How will you go about making your decision whether or not to buy a property?
- What information will help you make your decision?
- What has worked for you and/or not worked so well for you when making similar decisions in the past?
Budget questions allow you to help the client find an affordable solution and overcome any potential hurdles to affordability. Examples include:
- What is your ideal budget range and how far are you willing to stretch beyond it?
- What will you want to do if you’re unable to find the right house for you in that price range?
- Do you have other potential sources of funds you can tap into if need be?
Probing questions help deepen and further your understanding of your clients and their needs and circumstances and engage them in the conversation more fully. Examples include:
- Could you expand on that?
- What’s an example of this?
- How did that affect or influence you?