The First Step in Helping Our Buyer Clients

At BNP, just over half our business is with buyer clients.

About 90% of the time when we’re first contacted by a buyer, they’ve decided to begin the process and they (wisely) want to meet, talk, find out more about the market, learn about us, really get a sense of “how this all works” before launching in.

That’s our preferred order of events, too. That approach allows both the buyer and us to ask lots of questions, avoid a lot of confusion and misunderstanding, and properly set expectations.

But about 10% of the time we’re called by someone who fits one of these two profiles:

  • They’ve been casually looking at the market, and suddenly a house they love has popped up and they want us to meet them at that house. We’ve not previously met… they may not know anything about us (or about the home buying process)… and they want to just dive in.


  • They’ve been working with, or are currently working with, another agent, but that’s not going well and they want to either explore a switch to our firm, or they feel that having multiple agents trying to help them would be more effective.

We’ll meet and talk with buyers (and sellers!) “wherever they are” in the process. Though more and more, we try to avoid short-cutting it by skipping that first sit-down meeting.

We see across-the-board benefit to taking that time — even if they’re in a rush or fixated on one particular house. We’ll get there… but there are a lot of steps in front of us and we find immeasurable value in first getting on the same page.

The first step in the buyer meeting is a Q&A session, where we go through a list of questions to access the buyer’s prior experience and knowledge.

Here are some of the questions we’ve found to be super helpful to discuss in that initial meeting:

  • Have you ever bought a house before?
  • Did you use a Realtor for that purchase?
  • How did that go?
  • Thinking back on it, is there anything you’d like to have go totally different this time?
  • If you’re a first-time buyer, tell us about any research or learning you’ve done, whether from friends or family, or on your own.
  • Why is now the right time to buy (or start looking) for you? 
  • Is there a date you need to be moved in by? 
  • Is there a house, or houses, that have your interest right now? 
  • Do you know your budget for this house? 
  • Have you researched the lending process? 
  • Have you met with, or submitted info to, a lender yet?
  • Who was that? (Or, if you haven’t, can we make you a referral?)
  • Do you have any burning questions about that process right now? 
  • How familiar are you with the current Bellingham / Whatcom County market conditions? 
  • How familiar are you with the different Bellingham neighborhoods / County areas in terms of where you’d ultimately like to be? 
  • How refined is your criteria for the house you’re looking for? 
  • What condition (from fixer to brand new) are you open to for this house? 
  • If we can organize any work that may need to be done on the house, are you more open to something less “move-in ready?”
  • Tell us about the house itself, in terms of beds, bath, size, style, etc.? 
  • Are you open to condos or townhouses?
  • Tell us about the actual property, the lot, in terms of size and characteristics. 
  • Any other “must haves” like a garage, shop, view, etc?
  • Are there any “absolutely not’s” on your list. 
  • How long do you envision keeping this house? 
  • Are there any other decision-makers involved in this purchase?
  • What is your availability/flexibility for touring houses?
  • How do you prefer to communicate?
  • Are you familiar at all with the contract(s) used to make an offer?
  • Are you familiar with the various other professionals who’ll be involved in the transaction?
  • Do you have help you can call on for the actual move?
  • Do you know how Realtors are paid?
  • What questions do you have?
  • Are you ready to begin talking about our process of searching for your home, making offers, and transaction management?

By starting our working relationship with these questions and the discussion that ensues, we’ve found it creates an overwhelmingly smooth experience for our clients and for us when compared to the short-circuited alternative.