"We're just starting our house hunt, my recently acquired clients explained . . . Perhaps we could meet with you and get a general overview so we know what to expect ? "
Perfect. I can definitely do that!
Last week, I wrote a piece about the "Perfect Seller" and got a good deal of response from readers (and other Realtors) who related to my desire to map out the "perfect" Seller. Fortunately for me, I actually DO have the perfect Sellers right now.
In fact, I am working with several - all of whom have surrendered to trust . . . Not surprisingly, "Trust" is exactly where we begin with Buyers as well. If there is no faith or trust in your Agent's ability to help you through what has become a very competitive marketplace as of late, and what is always a highly anxious transaction, even under the best of circumstances, then there is no point in moving forward with one another.
In such cases, you are better served to part company and move on.
Now that we have established a base of trust, let's talk about preparation . . .
With Sellers, that preparation has a great deal to do with readying their home for market and with the mandatory disclosures required; vital steps which help prepare the Sellers to emotionally let go.
For Buyers, your preparation takes an entirely different path, beginning with a real understanding of what you qualify for with respect to a loan, and more importantly, what you can afford, with respect to the other priorities and needs in your life. Irrespective of what a bank representative says, only you can define your level of comfort on mortgage debt. This should be crystal clear before you do anything else.
In a perfect world, the conversation between you and your Mortgage Broker/Banker takes place before you call a Realtor. The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a home you can't afford, or worse yet, CAN, but aren't in a position to purchase.
Step One: Define your budget and pre-qualify for a loan (and make sure your mate is on line as well). With strong financing in hand and a meeting of the minds, it's now time to establish a relationship with an agent you trust and to begin the house hunt in earnest.
Expect to spend many Sundays in search of your new home, which should help pinpoint the style and the neighborhood you prefer. (Hint: the more open and flexible you are with both these elements, the easier your search will be.) If you are unclear as to one or the other, start by eliminating what you don't want. While you may not yet know exactly what you can live with, I guarantee, you will know what you cannot!
Once you find the home you love, go all in and don't over analyze the numbers. Home purchases by and large are emotional buys - not pragmatic ones. If you lock yourself into charts and graphs and insist it's a numbers game, you'll be forever outbid by the Buyer who better understands the dynamics and is willing to leave nothing on the table.
Hold nothing back (but DO keep your appraisal contingency in place as a safety net) and don't automatically expect a counter offer opportunity will come into play. It often does NOT materialize.
Now that you are in contract, make sure to inspect your home thoroughly and read the reports provided (a surprising number of people don't). For most of us (me included) our homes are our single-largest asset. Therefore, it's incumbent upon you to know what you are purchasing and to feel comfortable with it - warts and all. (Understood? Good.)
And finally, the "perfect Buyer" would understand that we don't, and cannot, control what anyone else will do on any given day. What another Buyer can afford, how motivated they may be, how many other opportunities they may have missed, or how badly they want the home, are all behaviors that our out of our control. Let's focus on our own intentions and actions and prepare for the very best. Eventually, your turn will come around.
And while I'm laying out the recipe for the "perfect" Buyer (this part should sound familiar) he or she would check off their "To Do" list in short order once a ratified contract has been established. They would happily follow my suggestions, they would automatically trust and let go, they would set realistic expectations, they would defer to my experience and expertise, they would be flexible throughout the transaction, and finally, they would treat the sale as a business transaction first and foremost and NEVER take things personally. (Deja vu.)
And since I'm repeating myself . . . they would think I walk on water. Then they would loudly brag about me to their friends and refer me at every turn, sending LOTS of business my way. And like my faithful dog, Buck, they'd love me unconditionally, regardless of the outcome . . . Now, is that too much to ask?
Probably so, given that this is your dream - and you've probably got many expectations around it.
So let's just agree to do our very best for one another. Fair? (I think so.) That much I can absolutely promise. Now, let's get to work.
How can I help you?
(And now that I've laid out the ground rules for the "perfect" Buyer and Seller, please let me know what qualities you think the "perfect" Realtor should possess and I'll print them up!)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.