7 Kinds of Buyers Who Ask to See Your House

7 Kinds of Buyers Who Ask to See Your House

If you put your house up for sale you (or your agent) may start getting inquiries from all sorts of people. This article provides some guidelines on figuring them all out without running afoul of the Fair Housing regulations (see important disclaimer at the end).

7 categories of buyers may inquire about your home:

  1. Serious, Time Pressure
  2. Serious, No Time Pressure
  3. Curious, Not Serious
  4. Agents Without Buyers
  5. Cash Investors
  6. Cash Wholesalers
  7. Frauds

Serious, Time Pressure 

External events compel these buyers to move soon.  They are well qualified, need a house and know what they want. These buyers almost always are working with an agent affiliated with a major-branded brokerage.  They may have a military change in station, a new job starting soon, their old house just sold, or another member of their family about to arrive. 

These buyers don't have time to research For Sale By Owner listings on Zillow or CraigsList. Their agents prefer to show homes that are reasonably priced, and listed by known expert agents affiliated with known major brokerages. Neither the buyers nor their agents have the time to deal with transaction hiccups. They will pay for premium features and service. These buyers are ideal candidates for homes listed as Certified Pre-Owned Homes. These buyers usually do not have the time to wait for new construction from builders.

Serious, No Time Pressure

These buyers know where they want to buy, approximately what they want to buy, and have the time to shop a while. They are often First Time Homebuyers.   According to a Genworth 2018 Research report they will ook at an average of 45 homes before deciding. They make up around 55% of the market in many areas.  This purchase is often their first purchase, or their first purchase in a long time, or their first purchase together. They often need education and counseling on financing and the transaction process. They often have hopes of buying homes at big discounts and are unsure of their own negotiation abilities. So they tend to hire real estate agents to negotiate the best deals for them.  They are drawn to new construction, Certified Pre-Owned Homes, and well-staged homes. They are uneasy about by-owner homes found by yard signs, on CraigsList or on Facebook.  Taking care of clients like this is enough of a job for their agents that the agents will tend to stay away from by-owner homes, or even homes listed by brokerages known for employing scores of inexperience agents.

Curious, Not Serious

Some people love to look at what they can't afford. Window-shopping and tire-kicking can provide a way to fill idle hours.  They often work without agents because agents will swiftly sort out those who are qualified and can afford to buy from those who can't.  Some of these people may even may offers hoping the sellers will agree to their way-below-market dreams.  These people will check on by-owner properties because they hope they may get lucky.

This category also includes people who are "Looking for my friend or relative."

Agents Without Buyers

By owner listings will draw scores of inquiries from agents eager to get face to face with you. They hope to earn your trust and list your house.  This is fine as long as they are straightforward with you.  If they actually have a buyer they will tell you right away and ask for a commission if that buyer buys it.

If you are listed with an agent an another agent without a buyer asks to preview your home you should ask if they have received an ok from you agent. If so fine, if not they may unethically be seeking to replace your agent.

Cash Investors

Some investors seek to buy homes to use as rental properties or to renovate and re-sell. Many investors are also agents. Agents are required to identify themselves right up front.

Investors are bargain hunters looking to buy homes for 75% or market value of less. They tend to prefer homes with sellers in distress - for example, foreclosures, short sales, expired listings, for sale by owners, probate homes, hoarder homes or homes with signicant damage or deferred maintenance.

Ethical investors will be up front about the fact that they are seeking a bargain, and hope that the ease of a quick, as-is, transaction will appeal to you.

Cash Wholesalers

Like investors wholesalers offer easy, quick liquidity in exchange for a big discount.  Honest wholesalers will explain that they are seeking to buy to resell to an investor in their network and that they need to make some money on the deal. They seek to buy distressed properties for less than 60 cents on the dollar so they can turn around and sell the contract before it closes to the investor who will really want to use it as their next project. They are middle-persons, often without real estate licenses.


Unfortunately some people seek to gain at expense of others, with little regard for laws or ethics. Fraudulent buyers may seek to get you to sign a sales contract that they cannot or will not perform. Then they can record the contract creating a cloud on the title of the property (via lis pendens) preventing you from selling it to anyone else.  At that point they may approach you with other options very favorable to them and unfavorable to you. 

We have discovered, and avoided transactions with, those with federal felony convictions.  These situations are rare, but potentially catastrophic to your equity position.


People in all kinds of circumstances consider selling a home. We understand normal sales, move-up sales, downsizing sales, relocation sales, estate sales, foreclosure avoidance sales, bankruptcy sales, separation/divorce sales, hoarder sales, investor sales, flipper sales and other situations. 

For a free, no-obligation, discussion of your options and alternative just contact us.  

Fair Housing

The Equal Opportunity in Housing laws provide important protections to prevent discrimination against buyers in certain protected classes. U.S. sellers need to be careful not to change their responses based on the race, sex, religion, national origin, marital status, family status, or disability. Sellers in Virginia need also not discriminate based on elderliness (except for active adult communities). Sellers in Maryland may not discriminate based on gender identification or sexual orientation.  Sellers need to be aware that the US Department of Justice or HUD have been known to sent out "test shoppers" to check on potential discrimination.  We are not attorneys, If you need legal advice you should consult an attorney.


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