The National Association of Realtors indicates that as of 2011, about 10 percent of home sellers listed their houses themselves without using a realty company. If you are in that 10 percent, then knowing some of the key questions to ask potential buyers can help you know how serious they are about purchasing a house, whether they can qualify for a mortgage, and whether there are is anything that could interfere.
Have You Been Preapproved?
One of the challenges faced by "for-sale-by-owner" home listings is the length of time it can take to sell a house. When a buyer expresses interest in a house, asking whether he has been preapproved can help determine how serious he is about purchasing, and whether he will be able to obtain the necessary financing.
Will You Be Using a Real Estate Agent?
Find out whether the buyer plans to use a realtor to complete the purchase. Real estate agents charge a commission when involved in the sale of the home. If the sale has already been completed and the agent has to only do the paperwork, she might choose to charge 3.5 percent instead of the market standard of 7 percent.
Do You Have a Home to Sell?
When a couple has their own house to sell, their offer on your house might be made contingent upon the sale of their own house. Knowing who might make a contingent offer can help you decide between two potential buyers. A buyer who does not have to sell another house might be more attractive to a seller who needs to close within a certain period of time.
Have You Made an Offer on Another House?
When a buyer makes an offer to purchase a home, "earnest money" is put down. Earnest money can be anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand. This money is meant to show that the buyer is committed to the purchase of your home, but the purchaser can pull out of the deal and lose only the money put down. If the buyer has already made another offer on another house, he might not be fully committed to either purchase.
What Did You Like/Not Like About This House?
Hearing from potential buyers about what needs to be improved -- even though their input might be hard to hear -- can help you know to make necessary repairs and updates that will allow you to compete with less expensive houses in your area, such as foreclosures. In addition, BankRate recommends scoping out other houses in the same price range in your area.
Lori Soard has been a writer since 1995, covering a variety of topics for local newspapers and magazines such as "Woman's World." For five years, she served as a site editor for a large online information portal. Soard is also the author of several published books, both fiction and nonfiction.