“By Jesse McCarl

It doesn’t take long in a real estate career before you learn that people are flaky. You’ve probably walked a client through nearly every step of the moving process, only to have them change their mind at the last minute and deprive you of your commission check.

In the show Love It or List It, you meet a couple who can’t decide whether they want to remodel their home to meet their needs, or just move out and start fresh. They have a contractor come in to renovate their current dig and a real estate agent to show them some potential new spots. At the end of the episode, they choose to either stay in their freshly updated home (love it) or sell it to move (list it).

The people in the show usually end up simply staying in their current pad. Perhaps it’s the memories they’ve created, perhaps it’s the thousands they already poured into the renovations, or maybe they’re just exhausted from all the melodrama that comes with being on a reality show.

In a half hour daytime TV program, this is all well and good. But imagine if these had been your clients: You take time to show multiple listings and try to find the perfect home for their needs, and then you find out you were never needed anyway.

How do you make sure your clients are confident in their preparation to move? Can you screen them to make sure that their renovations to increase home value don’t just end up convincing them to stay put?

It is important to understand why the client is considering a move. Most of the reasoning can be investigated in preliminary phone calls or a listing interview. Do they seem uncomfortably attached to their specific neighborhood? Are they trying to get away from things that can’t be fixed with a remodel (distance from freeways, bad topography, etc.)? Does the next move seem well planned, or are they about to move into a mansion despite being empty-nesters in a few years?

The more you know about the customer’s real estate goals, the safer you will be when you move forward with them as a client.

Here are 5 questions to ask in the early stages with a client to screen your client’s commitment to move (and guarantee you a commission check)-


  1. Why do you want to move?
  2. Is your move going to be out of town, local, or just down the street?
  3. What are the biggest issues you have with your present address?
  4. Is remodeling even an option for your desires?
  5. What’s the time frame for the next move? How long-term is the “moving” solution, really?


At the end of the day, there’s no specific formula to guarantee the commitment of a new client. But these five questions will challenge the perspective of the clients, and perhaps allow them the space to consider alternatives they haven’t thought of yet. Furthermore, you can gain a sense of where the perspective buyer is at in the process, and adjust your strategy accordingly.

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