david hornby

After you get to know the buyer during the inspection process you should have a very good idea of whether or not the buyer qualifies for the subject property.
It was also mentioned that qualifying the buyer before inspection is particularly important for a stock and station agent as usually; the inspection process is time consuming. Qualifying can be considered in 3 stages:

1. Initial contact

The prospect at first will know little about the property except that stated in the advertisement. In that regard the advertisement is a success in that it has caused the prospect to get in touch with you to learn more about the property. The agent’s initial contact is important, don’t be too pushy but at least obtain the prospect’s name, address and phone number. Make sure you have his/her details in case you need to follow up.
Remember that prospects who have responded to an advertisement or For Sale sign will only know the details in that advertisement or on the sign. Those responding to the advertisement will know the asking price.
The agent should not volunteer negative information at this stage as on inspection the positives may outweigh the negatives so that the buyer will still buy the property.
The prospect could be referred to you by another party. In this case you will know that your goodwill or standing is good. On the other hand, he/she may only be making general enquiries. In this case the agent should spend more time qualifying the prospect as most likely they are interested in a wide range of properties in type and price.
There are 2 types of qualification:

Often you find that the prospect does not have a good idea of their own needs and desires. Even when they do, they are not adequately expressed so that the agent is still not sure which property is most suitable.
A common but unflattering statement by some agents is that “buyers are liars”. However, this is not true and better reflects an agent’s inability and inexpertise in qualifying the prospect. The buyer is said to be “lying” when the property finally chosen is quite different from that they initially stated. However, there may be a number of reasons for this including financial so that the fault lies with the agent in not properly qualifying the prospect’s financial capabilities. That is, there is poor communication between agent and prospect.
Further, referring to reading 1 on decision makers, the prospect may have to change his/her needs and desires after consultation with the other decision makers involved in buying the property.
The other reason for poor qualification is a lack of empathy with the prospect. In the reading above it is recommended that the agent try to empathise with the prospect during the initial contact and during the drive to the property.
Always qualify on a “one to one” basis. Never have an associate with you during this process. The prospect will feel outnumbered, and less likely to be honest and express him/herself.
It is also opportune to qualify on the farm during the inspection as the farm atmosphere will aid the sale, adding incentive and is after all, a refreshing change to your office.
Never appear to be in a hurry. Invite the prospect to sit down, make themselves comfortable, get them a coffee (important!) and start with small talk before the serious business (all farmers or potential farmers are interested in the weather).
Silence is important. Do not incessantly talk to the prospect. Buying a farm is a momentous decision and the prospect will need time to think things over. Remember silence is better than a nervous and negative prospect being wary and contradicting your statements.
The office must be clean and tidy. The colour scheme should restful and the furniture comfortable.


One advantage in meeting prospects in their own homes and/or on their farms rather than your office is that you can determine quite accurately their financial situation by the size, style and location of the house/farm and less importantly, the type of car parked in the driveway.
If the prospect is looking for a lifestyle change (“seachange” or “treechange”) a home visit will allow the agent to ascertain how serious they are. Prima facie, a prospect is less likely to want to change a luxurious urban lifestyle for the vagaries of rural living if they are currently living in a luxurious house. On the other hand, their desire for a lifestyle change would be supported if they live in a modest house and are unhappy with their current environment. Some urban families see a rural property as a “better environment t bring up the kids”. Remember, during the interview:
  1. Ask questions
  2. Listen
  3. Never assume you know what the prospect means.
Financial qualifying is important and should be carried out early in the sale process. Without financial capability to purchase the subject farm both the prospect and agent is wasting each other’s time.
The agent must be tactful. Do not ask “how much do you earn per year” or “how much can you afford?” too soon. Further, particularly in country towns, do not judge the prospect by their appearance! The agent must determine the prospect’s financial situation early as this will dictate the type or need of further negotiations and inspections.
The agent should learn the value of indirect questioning. Instead of the above questions the agent can ask:
This is your first farm and I assume you would like to start with something small.”
If the prospect has indicated that he/she will borrow to buy the farm the agent can talk about “high” interest rates and how hard it is to keep up with repayments today. The prospect’s response will give the agent a good idea of their financial situation.
The agent should not forget that the buyer of a rural property, particularly a substantial farm, will often be a family formed company or partnership. Therefore, financial qualifying in this situation is really qualifying the extended family.
Often in a country town, local knowledge will be enough to qualify both the prospect’s family needs and financial situation. For example, if the prospect is a member of a well known and successful farming family then there is probably no need for the agent to spend too much time on qualification, The agent’s time is better spent on inspections and finding a suitable property.
When an agent asks a prospect what price range of farm they are interested in, invariably the response will be an understatement of their true intentions. This is because they are hoping for a bargain but more likely, they are out of touch with current rural prices. In this case, the agent quoting sales will help the prospect appreciate current market prices.