Sometimes you need to kiss a few frogs to find a prince. Well, the same is true for selling a home. Although it usually takes longer to meet potential buyers face to face these days—if you do at all—your dealings and various interactions may ultimately make you feel a certain intimacy with these would-be owners … perhaps even more than you’d like.

It pays, literally, to know what kind of person lurks behind the offer. So allow us to introduce you to the kinds of buyers you’ll encounter and how best to deal with them for optimum results!


Type 1: The all-cash showoff

All-cash buyers may seem cocky—understandably. With no worries of financing falling through, this buyer means business and can even ask for a shorter escrow period to seal the deal.

The downside? “You may have to be ready to be flexible,” suggests Robert Vinson of Vinson Real Estate Group in Los Angeles, CA. Translation: An all-cash buyer will probably aim for a lower offer, or may have specific contingencies in mind (e.g., you’ve got to fix that roof now) or else they walk.

But here’s the thing to remember: The promise of cold, hard cash is more of a bragging point for a buyer than a financial benefit to you, the seller. So be prepared to drop a pushy all-cash buyer if their demands become too outrageous.

“The seller receives their net proceeds in cash regardless of how the buyer pays,” notes Joseph Montemarano, a Realtor® with the Partners Trust in Los Angeles. “So a well-qualified buyer getting a loan is as good as cash.”


Type 2: The scrappy underdog

These buyers are the opposite of the all-cash buyer: They have little available cash for a down payment.

Buyers with FHA loans can fall into this category, which can sometimes be rough on sellers since FHA loans have stricter home qualifying requirements. Additionally, the more work a buyer needs to finance the property, the more work a seller might need to do as well—like contributing to closing costs.

The good news? These buyers usually know they’re a headache. As a result, they should be more flexible to your needs. You could ask for a later move-out date or for them to require fewer repairs be completed prior to purchase. And if their bank won’t cover enough, Vinson says another option is a carry-back loan. This is where a home seller takes out a second mortgage and acts as a bank for the buyer in order to cover the financing gap.

“If they’re almost there but they need that extra bit, I’d consider something like that,” says Vinson. Additionally, you can make money on the interest rate. Just be sure to consult a financial adviser and lawyer first.


Type 3: The doe-eyed charity case

These buyers are “so in love with your home, [they] submit an offer accompanied by a sweet emotional letter with photos of their children or pets,” Vinson explains. “They’re probably the most rewarding buyer out there.” Only beware: Warm and fuzzy feelings don’t pay the bills, so if their plea is not accompanied by an equally heartfelt (aka large) offer, they could just be playing your heartstrings with one hand and reserving a fistful of cash in the other.

“Work with them, but prioritize your bottom line,” Vinson advises. This is still a business transaction, so keep your priorities straight and don’t get snowed under by a blizzard of emotions—at your own expense.


Type 4: The window shopper

These buyers dream of owning a home some day. They gallivant around town, swooning at every open house, but flake when it comes to sealing the deal. They might even pose as “hard negotiators [with] lowball offers,” says Ren Smith of Partners Trust in Malibu, CA.

However, the reality is they just aren’t all that serious about buying a home. If you sense this is what’s going on, have your agent determine if they’re looking at multiple properties and find out just how soon they’re looking to move in. The more properties they’re looking at and the more wishy-washy the answer, the more likely you should cut your losses rather than waste your time.


Type 5: The coyote

If your property has gone stale on the market, you might start seeing this type of buyer sniffing around.

“They want to see if there’s a [literal] crack in the foundation, something that’s kept it on the market for too long,” Vinson says. But don’t get intimidated—just be honest. “Be extra careful to disclose everything,” he says. Work with your agent to see what concessions need to be made, and if the price you’re asking is right—chances are if it hasn’t sold for a while, you might need to come down a bit.


On the other hand, you’ll need to suss out if this buyer is a property flipper sniffing for a deal. A quick and easy way to do this is to Google their name with keywords such as “real estate transfers”—your local paper should have these readily available online—to see if they’ve been buying up property all over town.