Focusing Too Much on Non-serious Buyers Can Have Serious Effects on the Sale of Your Home

Focusing Too Much on Non-serious Buyers Can Have Serious Effects on the Sale of Your Home

After going through all of the stages of thinking, planning, and prepping it takes to get your house (and yourself) ready to be listed for sale, it’s natural to be excited about all of the buyers and offers you expect to see once your house officially hits the market.

It’s not uncommon for sellers to expect pretty much every person who comes to see their house to have interest and want to make an offer. While that’s often human nature at work at any point in the history of real estate, market conditions over the past few years have raised many sellers’ expectations since so many houses were selling within days of being listed, with owners having multiple offers over their asking price to choose from.

But, even if it may have appeared to be so, that doesn’t mean that sellers received an offer from every single buyer that came to see their house, even in such a frenzied sellers’ market. No matter what the market is like, there will always be some “buyers” who come to see your house who will never make an offer on your house, no matter how serious or interested they seem.

When the market is hot like that, and there are far more serious buyers than there are houses for sale, the non-serious buyers don’t pose as much of a threat. But as the market shifts and there are more houses hitting the market, competing for the attention of fewer buyers, putting too much hope in a non-serious buyer can hurt you.


5 Ways Non-serious Buyers Can Impact You

Putting too much hope and stock in a non-serious buyer may not sound like a big deal, but here are a 5 things that can happen if you do:

  • It can make you overestimate how many interested buyers there actually are for your property.
  • It can make you ignore offers from serious buyers, or make them wait for a response, while you wait to see if a non-serious buyer is going to make an offer as well. This can hurt your negotiating power with a serious buyer, or even lose one entirely if they feel you were dragging them along waiting for another offer that might be better, or to use it as leverage in negotiations.
  • It can make you stay listed at a price that’s too high, causing serious buyers to overlook your house.
  • It can make you question if your agent is doing everything they can to get them to come in with an offer, causing you to not trust their insights and advice.
  • It can make you feel disappointed with how much you end up selling your house for, even if it was sold for a great price, because you wonder if the non-serious buyer would have offered you more money.


How Can You Tell if Someone Isn’t a Serious Buyer?

A serious, motivated buyer is fairly easy to recognize. Most serious buyers will act quickly, because they don’t want to lose the house they want to another buyer. Chances are they’ll come see your house within days (if not hours) of you putting it on the market, and they’ll usually make a strong offer not too long after that, as long as your house is priced appropriately given the current market conditions.

On the other hand, as a recent article from pointed out, there are certain signs that are a good indication a buyer isn’t serious, such as:

  • They’re not working with a buyers’ agent. While some buyers may be trying to go solo and deal directly with a listing agent in hopes of swinging a deal, or saving money, most serious buyers end up working with a dedicated buyers’ agent to represent them.
  • They just started their home search. Every buyer needs to start somewhere, and that house may be yours. Buyers usually don’t buy the first house they see, or even one within the first few weeks or months they start their home search. The earlier they are in the process, the less likely they’re a serious buyer, since many buyers start casually looking months, and even years ahead of when they actually buy a house.
  • They came through during an open house. Of course a serious buyer might come see your house when it’s being held open on a weekend, especially if it’s the first time it was allowed to be seen by the public. But serious buyers usually don’t wait for an open house in order to see a home they’re interested in.
  • They don’t have a pre-approval. Serious buyers want to be ready to present themselves and their offer as strongly as possible when they find a house they want, which includes proof that they can get a mortgage.
  • They didn’t spend much time looking at the house. A serious buyer will take their time looking at your house, and probably linger for quite some time. They’ll probably even want to come back a second or third time, and as soon as possible. A person who takes a quick walk through the house, even if they make an offer, isn’t showing signs that they’re taking a serious look at what will be a huge purchase, and the place they’ll call home. This often leads to buyers’ remorse and nitpicking later on if they do make an offer and it’s accepted.
  • They say they’re interested, but aren’t actually making an offer. Actions speak louder than words. Don’t hold out too long for someone who claims they want to make an offer, because they may just be saying so to be nice, or want to drag you along while they deliberate and look at other homes on the market.
  • They make a lowball offer. Unless your house is overpriced, a serious buyer usually isn’t going to risk offending you and hurting their chances of getting their offer accepted by coming in with a low offer. But a non-serious buyer may just throw a lowball at you to see if you’re desperate.
  • They’re pointing out things they don’t like. Serious buyers will overlook the things they don’t like, or might even be small issues with a house, because their desire to buy it overrides their concerns. But someone who nitpicks over things (especially as justification for a low offer) is showing signs that they aren’t a serious buyer.


So, if you find yourself dealing with buyers who show these signs, you may want to think twice about holding out for them to make an offer, especially if you have other more serious buyers interested in your home.

But if you’re not seeing any interest and receiving any offers after your house has been on the market for a while, ask your agent to help you assess whether it’s the current market conditions and you just need to be patient for the right buyer to come along, or if you should consider reducing your price because it’s too high.


The Takeaway:

When selling your house, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling like every person who comes to see your house is a serious buyer. But it’s important not to pin your hopes on non-serious buyers, because it can cause you problems, and even cost you money or the sale of your house.

Some signs of non-serious buyers include not having a buyer’s agent, just starting their search, visiting during open houses, lacking mortgage pre-approval, rushing through viewings, hesitating to make an offer, or making lowball offers. Watch out for these signs, but more importantly, trust your agent’s insights and advice as to whether a buyer is likely serious or not.

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