Buying a house
This tale might be fictional, but it’s based on several real, local people and events.
On things that actually, really happen around here.
Bill had been turned away from every brokerage in town. No one was willing to sell his house for him.
No agent, whether moral or shady, would touch it.
And it wasn’t because of the property; the home and yard were in great shape.
The problem wasn’t the location. Actually, it was a highly desirable place.
Buyers were searching for a property like his.
Still, no one would list it.
Why? Because Bill insisted on selling it for double its value.
What was worth $300,000 in the local market, he decided he would get $600,000. And he was completely dead serious.
So he left office after office, unable to find the agent who would invest their marketing dollars in such. No one was willing to torpedo their own reputation by listing such an impossibility.
Bill returned to his home and promptly stuck a sign in the yard. If no one would help him, he would do it himself.
Two things can happen at this point, and neither is a good thing.
- Bill could sell the house to an unsuspecting private buyer who doesn’t realize it’s a horrible deal. Because ‘hey, it’s a private sale, so it must be cheaper’. Umm, no.Either the buyers come up with cash for the inflated price and buy something without any promise of equity for years and years and years or, more likely, the bank looks at the deal, and refuses to fund the mortgage. Because paying double is insane.
- Or, most likely, and what happens most of the time, the property sits. And sits. And sits.
Because people aren’t stupid. No one will pay double. Or even 30% more than it’s worth.
Look, if this forewarns you about anything, let it be this.
- Beware: private sales aren’t always on the up and up.
- Buying without an agent to protect you is risky
- And, if you’re selling, for Pete’s sake, remember people aren’t idiots – not buyers, not agents – and be reasonable. People (and banks) will only pay what things are actually, legitimately worth. Anything more is flat out greed.
Have you ever purchased an over-priced home? Why?
I recognized the address right away. I had been there before. The foundation was in deplorable condition.
I knew they would not buy it.
But, I booked the appointments anyway. We saw five houses on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Once they saw the house with the crumbling foundation they exclaimed they would never invest in a house like this.
“I know,” I said. “I knew about the foundation, and I knew you would never ever buy it.”
They looked confused. “Why did you take the time to show it to us then?”
“Because I respect your need to make your own decision. I will not filter the choices based on my opinion, but on yours.”
They nodded, and seemed to appreciate that.
It had only been our second time shopping. They did not know me well, and this was a perfect way to demonstrate that they can trust me. I knew that if I tried to prevent them from seeing a home they wanted to see, they may question whether I had my own agenda.
Eniko and I don’t choose to show only homes that offer the highest commission.
We don’t limit the buyers shopping to only listings through the brokerage we work for. (Even though we have a lot of inventory to choose from). We respect our buyers’ decision to choose, and furnish them with all the options they request.
Once buyers get to know us though, something changes.
Suddenly we’ll get texts asking, “What do you know about this property? Have you shown it?”
Once we have developed a trust relationship and we get asked these questions, we can avoid unnecessary showings.
It’s at this point in the shopping experience we tell the buyer, “The house is beautifully redone and has a lot of character however, the basement is built on blocks and is horizontally caving in. There is constant water in the basement as a result of the shifting of the east wall of the basement.
We all save time when that happens. But saving time is always secondary to integrity.
By the way, that home with the theoretical basement on blocks that’s caving in? We may not recommend it to one buyer, but we might just call the concrete worker we know who said he was looking for homes where he could raise the house and redo the foundation.
There is a buyer for every house at the right price.
ACCREDITED BUYER REPRESENTATIVE
Online house hunting can only do so much.
You cannot smell a house online.
Or open that mysterious door in the basement, or inspect the walls and ceilings for water damage.
You can rule out many homes online, but there are things about a property that you won’t know till you arrive.
This is where, with your own personally retained agent, you begin looking at houses. Lots of them. Sometimes lots and lots of them.
One such (fictional) couple was at the stage of looking. They had smartly retained me to represent them, and off we went looking for that perfect-for-them house.
Here’s how their search went down.
House one: He loved the garage but the master bedroom wasn’t big enough for her.
House two: She loved the kitchen but he didn’t want to be bothered with making the basement windows bigger so the children could safely sleep downstairs.
House three: The wood stove was something he had always wanted but she thought it was not safe for the toddler to be around. I suggested they could remove it but that would create a renovation project they didn’t want to pay for.
House four: She loved the character in the old house but he wasn’t interested in a property that only had a holding tank. It would be an added monthly living expense that they didn’t need.
House five: The floors had all been replaced, which was hugely appealing to both of them. However, the laminate floors had been poorly installed and already had areas separating and swelling from moisture. They both were super disappointed.
House Six: The backyard was amazing. They could both see themselves enjoying summer out here. Too bad the ceiling had been dripping and was causing mould in the upper level of the one and a half story home. Their son’s allergies would not work with that.
House seven: The ad in the magazine said it was a few minutes from the city. It took forty-two minutes to drive to the property and there were eleven miles of gravel road to travel. It was just too far to drive.
House eight: The open-concept living area appealed to both of them. She loved the large windows… until she saw who lived next door. She would not live next door to his ex-girlfriend. Not happening.
House nine: The smell of cigarette smoke was so strong they never even looked through the entire house.
House ten: The backyard photos were the reason they wanted to see this one. The towering apartment blocks next to the home put a damper on the private backyard life they had imagined. They ruled it out before we even looked inside. That was a quick walk though.
House eleven: Ten acres. Finally. They could have horses and other pets. The current owners enjoyed pets also. They just were not very attentive about cleaning up the cat litter. The rugs were torn in the doorways and in the stairs, apparently having been used as a scratching post. There were snakes, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, dogs, and birds living in the house.
The grass on the ten acres had not been cut in years and the grounds had become a dumping ground for old car parts. They certainly could not see their son playing on these grounds. How long would it take to clean the place? I think I saw her gag at the thought.
House twelve: They wrote an offer. They just wanted to move already. We went back to do a home inspection and when we arrived we found the basement flooded. There was no sump pit or sump pump.
The spring melt was coming up through the floor and the beautiful new rug was soaking wet. Thankfully, because they had the offer subject to a home inspection, they were able to get out of the deal.
Houses thirteen to thirty one: They compared each of these homes with the one they had fallen in love with and written an offer on. None of them compared. After a while, all the houses started to look the same.
House number thirty two: Adequate size. Treed yard with a garden. Finished basement. Bi-level with large basement windows. The floors were about five years old but they looked nice. The garage was not insulated but it was attached to the house and they liked that. The kitchen wasn’t as big as she wanted but it had a huge walk-in pantry. They could picture their life here.
I watched them as they quietly took it all in. They were in no hurry to leave. They started picturing where they would place their furniture. It all just made sense. Finally, they had found their home.
You might be wondering if I’m exaggerating. I don’t actually show that many houses before closing a deal, right? I must have just gotten caught up in the fictional storytelling.
YES, I’ve absolutely shown upwards of thirty houses to a single client. It’s happened a few times.
The fact is, house-hunting takes time. Lots of time.
If you take anything away from this story, I hope it is an appreciation of the buyer representative who dedicates themselves to you and your process.
We work hard, and are glad to show you loads of listings, regardless of whose sign is on the yard.
Accredited Buyer Representative
Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
Years ago, I had the honor of helping a young couple buy their first home. They were the first, and very proud, owners of that home, and had enjoyed it a lot.
Now, with baby number two on the way, they decided to move. With their eyes on the future, they wanted to live in a community where they would want to send their children to school.
As we checked out a few houses, he carried one child in his arms, and she carried the other one low in her belly. The little one would arrive soon. From house to house she rubbed her belly and pressed her palms to her aching back.
They wanted a floor plan similar to the home they had already lived in, and we found one. They imagined the toddler’s room here, and the new baby’s room there…
Her face glowed with the dreamy expectation of a first-time mom.
This location and home suited them perfectly, so we immediately marketed their home. It sold, and they made an offer on the house they’d chosen.
Then something happened that’s never happened in my career before.
At the same time the conditions on their house were removed, their baby was being born!
It was a doubly fantastic day for them.
Now came the awkward part. I needed to get their signatures to complete the deal on their purchase.
I drove over to the Ste. Anne hospital.
A nurse led me down the hall toward the birthing room. That’s right. I was going into the very room that she had just given birth. It was a generously sized room with high timber frame ceilings.
I felt like an intruder as I entered the room. I felt like a huge interruption to their glorious first hours with their newborn son.
But she held the wrapped baby, beaming. She seemed so deeply satisfied. And my arriving, whether it was the signing of papers or the sharing of the moment, seemed to only heighten their joy.
They were the happiest clients I have ever encountered.
These are the moments I live for!
I adore being part of the process, watching people (and families) grow, learn, and become.
The deepest, most rewarding part of my profession is the people. It’s a deep honor to be invited into these intimate moments, to glimpse people’s beautiful hearts, – even nearly get shot by them! – and to help them find that home in which to make memories.
In ten years, I may forget the addresses, siding, or square footage, but I’ll always remember the people.
The local market has slowed a bit, and it’s making people nervous.
Real estate agents are leaving the profession.
Sellers are nervous. And cautious, fearful remarks are being made about people not being able to do in this market what could be done last year. Some plan to spend less on marketing to weather the year.
May I suggest an alternative? Whether you’re a developer, REALTOR® or an investor, this could actually be your best year yet. Know why? Because while others are busy being afraid, you can play your power card.
Consider what you were awesome at last year:
Did you invest in marketing your business?
Did you learn new ways to serve your clients well?
Did you market for your clients like crazy?
Did you deliver high quality service?
If you’ve got all those (or even some of them) you’re ahead in the game already.
Here’s the deal. You are the same business person you were last year. (maybe even better!) And no matter what the market, two things are sure: people are always buying and selling, and they want high quality, professional service.
Your power card is your unique offering. I’m not talking about ‘sell with me and I’ll give you a free widget’. I’m talking about what you do better than anyone else.
If you’re a trained ABR (Accredited Buyer Representative), that’s something unique to offer in a buyer’s market.
If you’re specially trained to serve seniors, (you have a SRES® perhaps), that’s a niche market you can serve too.
In a seller’s market, being highly trained in Seller Representation (SRS® designation) can be an asset too.
Maybe your edge is that you are highly mobile or an authority in your industry.
If you are continuing to learn, and striving to serve your clients excellently, you have an edge.
There is something you have that others don’t. That’s your powercard. And when everyone else is cowering in their boots, holding back and hunkering down, that’s the time to play it.
Play that power card, baby.
What’s your power card?
Continued from Part I, please enjoy this fictional Real Estate tale.
The question hung in the air as Gary sat frozen with his calendar in one hand, palm pressed, tie arched. He gazed steadily into Celia’s eyes, waiting for her reply. Alexis perched on the edge of her chair and also made frozen eye contact with Celia. The silence thickened, and Celia’s eyes darted from one to the other.
“I’ll tell you what,” Gary broke in, taking on the tone of a friend, “if you’re worried about telling Ellie, I’d be willing to call her myself. We’ve worked together several times. I’m sure she’ll understand.”
“-After all, how else can you look at this property? It’s completely reasonable that you would allow me to show it. There’s no other way, and if she doesn’t understand that, then…” he shrugged.
“Oh, yeah… I guess that’s true…” Celia trailed off.
“So you would like me to call her for you?” He raised an eyebrow and pulled his calendar closer.
Celia sighed, and her gaze fell to the floor. “Sure”
“Great. Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll take care of it. And don’t worry – Ellie’s a good egg. She’ll understand.”
* * *
Gary smiled as he saw the ladies off. A wider, toothy grin spread across his face as he hurried back to his desk. He tapped Ellie’s number, eager to tell her the news. He had won, and she had lost. Again. Ellie had worked like crazy to break in to the market here, but she had no chance against old pros like him. And it was such sweet victory to prove it. He stifled a chuckle as the phone stopped ringing, and Ellie picked up.
“Ellie! Hey, listen. I just spoke with a mutual acquaintance – Celia. She asked me to call you.”
There was a silent pause, then, “Oh?”
“Yeah,” he grinned into the phone, “Celia asked me to let you know she’ll be working with me now. I assured her you would understand.”
Apparently recovering from a stunned silence, Ellie spoke sharply, “Gary, what are you doing? You know better than this,” her words gained speed, “She is my buyer. I’M showing her houses. I’ve been working with her for weeks! What did you say to her?”
Gary could scarcely contain his glee. He wriggled in his chair, and summoned his most gentle voice. “She came to me, Ellie. She was referred, asked me about a property, and requested that I call you to let you know.” A faint huff was heard from the other end. “I don’t know what you two had arranged, but she is making arrangements with me now. I thought you might appreciate the courtesy of a call.” He hung up, and leaned far back in his chair, nearly tipping it. The sweetest clients had always been the stolen ones. By this time, the major legwork had been done, and buyers were poised to buy. This would be a quick and easy commission.
They usually were.
I once worked with a sweet, young couple who sought the perfect house in which to start their family. I hunted. I searched. For weeks I called and asked around and tapped keys to find that perfect house. We looked at a few. Then I found it –the perfect house for this couple. I called to let them know.
After not hearing back for a few days, I called again to check in. I was shocked. They had made an offer with another agent. After all the time and effort and work, they called another agent to see a listing, and then made an offer. The reason they gave was simple,
“We didn’t want to bother you”
I worked hard for weeks to please ‘my buyer’, and in the end received no commission for the sale… because they didn’t want to bother me. (Does this make sense to anyone??)
What’s worse is that this is a common occurrence. Many people don’t want to ‘bother’ their REALTOR® so, to be of least inconvenience, they require their agent to do loads of legwork and then give the commission to another agent they’ve had nothing to do with.
If you work hard for that promised promotion at work and then, when the boss promotes someone else – you know, as a favor; so you don’t have to work even harder – would you feel relieved? Would you be glad he didn’t bother you with the very reward you were working for??
If you only remember one thing from this post, I hope it’s this.
Please let me serve you – all the way.
Let me finish the work I started with you.
Your REALTOR® WANTS to work with you – all the way.
Your REALTOR® rightly hopes to one day be paid for all the work they do for you.
Please. Stop committing the big fat no-no.