Selling Your Home: 10 Buyers Types You’ll Come Across (and What To Do)

With so much information available for first time buyers, who is really looking after first time sellers who want to move up the property ladder? And how can you guess who is a serious buyer of your home and who is a time-waster?


Selling Houses: Customer Profiling

Property programmes on TV make it look so easy to sell a house: they show estate agents coming round to the property to do a valuation, they give a mouth-watering asking price to the vendor, and as if by magic the TV crew goes back a few months later once the new owner has settled in. Hardly anyone shows those houses that stay on the market for months, with a steady flow of viewings and some low offers, if any.

To navigate this house selling maze, one thing a vendor has to understand is customer profiling. Smiles and handshakes may not materialise in a sale, but sometimes tough questioning and harsh criticism of your home décor may turn into a solid offer.

To help you with your house viewings and gain some insight into how buyers behave, here is a list of buyers types. This list is quite tongue-in-cheek but it is based on real life scenarios. Before delving into the list, a word of warning: if you are selling your house through an agent, either on the high street or online, you must brief them thoroughly. Explain to them that they need to screen each potential buyer before arranging a viewing. They must have arranged their finances and if your property is being sold under special conditions (for example, it’s a studio flat or the building materials are not standard such as concrete) the agent must notify the viewer.

Selling a House

1. Pretty Pictures Viewer

“Oooh look how pretty this house looks! I’ll call the agent and see it from the inside.” This type of potential viewer is like your average speed-dater: they look at the (professional and glossy) pictures of your house on the listings website and, without reading the description nor looking at the floorplan, they want to have a good nose around. These buyers will then get quite annoyed with the estate agent (and indirectly you, the seller) because the house is not what they thought it would be. Yes, pictures can portray a more stylised version of your home in the flesh, however if someone is looking for something with a particular square footage and didn’t check the floorplan it’s not your fault. But don’t worry, they will think it’s your fault. Guess what: they won’t make an offer.

2. Ruling Your Home Out In Advance

This is a spectacularly annoying type of house buyer: he or she was never interested in your home in the first place, but they want to see for themselves what a house they would hate looks like. Guess what: you are not in the business of catering for their every need.

3. My Home Is Better Than Yours

Sometimes homeowners have no intention of moving. They simply want to know what is out there and give themselves a pat on the back because their home is the best in the whole universe. They take a lot of pleasure criticising other people’s houses and are not shy about sharing their views with the vendor. Needless to say, they are the ultimate time-waster. The advice is: if you have a punchbag, throw a few punches to it after the viewer has left.

4. I Can’t Afford Your House But I’ll Look at It Anyway

Daydreaming is fine, as long as it’s not at your expense. People can dream about their ideal home and go for hundreds of viewings if they like, as long as they don’t turn up on your doorstep. These types of buyers are probably going to lie about their financial situation (OK, take out that “probably”) and what they really want is to live the experience of VIP living like MTV Cribs.

MTV Cribs: Most Popular Crib

5. The Disappearing Act

You think you have found the right buyer: they make a good impression, are complimentary towards your house and how you decorated it, they say their mortgage has been approved in principle (or are cash buyers). They make a good offer and you accept it. And then… they vanish. The estate agent calls them and emails them every day with no reply. You may have taken your property off the market after accepting the offer, which means you haven’t had any viewings while the potential buyer had gone quiet. You need to cut your losses and put the property back on the market – or, ideally, you keep accepting viewing requests from potential buyers even after accepting the offer.

6. The Sob Stories

You really don’t need to know why someone has to move out of their beloved family home or the house they shared with their ex partner. These people are more likely to want to save money on counselling and simply want to have a moan to a complete stranger. Look at your watch and tell them you are expecting the next viewer any minute now and show them the door.

7. Day Tripper

“I couldn’t organise any babysitting so let’s just go and view properties with the children”. These types of daytrippers may remotely be interested in buying a house at some point, but maybe not today. However, if they are lucky, during one of the viewings a lovely owner may have baked a nice cake and may offer tea and cake to all visitors. It’s worth a try and saves them money on a day out with the kids. The advice is to ask this type of buyer when they are ready to exchange contracts and move in. Mild panic will set in and they will rush out of the door.

8. Competitors

It’s a fact of life that other vendors in your same area want to check what other similar houses in their area look like. They want to compare your house and its features with theirs and calculate if your asking price is good value for money. They will probably come across as very good candidates: they look very interested, ask a lot of questions, if probed about their finances they give you all the right answers. However, they will not make an offer, obviously, and you will feel rather surprised that they haven’t been in touch with the estate agent as they looked very keen. Once again you need to move on to the next viewer.

9. The Likely Buyer

These buyers are on the verge of making the commitment to buying their first or next home. They have done their research, however your home may be part of their research. If you are lucky, they have viewed a good number of properties and your home is the best match for their requirements. If not, you are just one of the properties they are looking at and they will look at many more, deciding ultimately to buy another house and not yours.

10. The Serious Buyer

There is no hard and fast rule to identify the serious buyer. One thing that is common to all of them is that they have their finances ready. Some of them may be highly critical of your home: it has nothing to do with you but they are simply processing information, comparing their expectations with reality. Some may compliment your home, however be wary of flatterers as they are usually not remotely interested in your home but they don’t want to appear rude. A serious buyer will ask you questions about the building, any renovation work, the neighbours, running costs and your reason for moving. It is very likely that a serious buyer will make an offer on the same day of the viewing or the following day.

Good Buyers Are Hard To Find

It’s not all doom and gloom but when it comes to selling your home you must bear in mind that 80% of the people viewing your property will waste your time (some of them won’t even show up on the agreed day of the viewing). You simply need to remember that selling your home is a bit of a pantomime, with many actors auditioning for their role. As long as you are keeping your sense of humour and don’t let the whole process stress you or depress you, after a few weeks on the market your house will sell. And just like dating, you may need to kiss a few frogs before you find your (home-buying) prince.

Recommended Reading: From First Time Home Buyer to First Time Seller