As motivated buyers, you have finally found your "dream home," have been pre-approved through a reputable lender, have timed your daily commute and have carefully vetted the preschools for your toddler. You know the politics of the community, have met with the principal of the elementary school and have even knocked on the doors of your prospective neighbors to ascertain their objections to any future proposed remodeling projects. In addition, you have spent months eliminating and rejecting other potential properties along the way. Congratulations - you have become an educated consumer!
With preparation and opportunity (and not infrequently, a few near misses) you are finally ready to move forward. It's at this very important juncture that you look at me earnestly and ask the question not even my children dare (or care) to ask me (in case I should proffer my objections ) Drum roll please . . .
"What do you think?" Hmmm. . .
Not that I don't have an opinion (I'm rarely without one) or that I haven't carefully evaluated the marketplace, the competition, the comparable sales and your many options (I have). It's just that what I think - what I truly think when it comes to a home purchase (yours not mine) isn't nearly as important or even as relevant as what YOU think.
What I can support? Now that is entirely another matter for discussion . . .
Do the comparable sales support the list price?
Are you fully prepared to meet the market?
Does your offer meet the seller's expectations?
Can I qualify and quantify any demands should renegotiation be appropriate?
Perhaps most importantly in today's world of conservative appraisals, do the surrounding sales substantiate the accepted offer price?
As for advice? - where it is relevant and critical to the purchase of your home, you may count on it!
I am most valuable to you when I bring my considerable experience to bear on the process. I have compared and evaluated thousands of homes for price and value, accompanied hundreds of inspections, navigated many tricky closings and have personally been both a Buyer and a Seller many times over.
But even with exhaustive research, years of experience, endless information, full disclosure, and a personal story that often aligns with your own, value is still largely subjective. What you are willing to pay, are comfortable spending and can afford is entirely up to you.
Even more, the architectural style you prefer, what neighborhood best meets your needs, what commute you are willing to accept, how long you will stay in any one home and what compromises are acceptable trade-offs . . . are choices only you can make. (I'll never forget the time a colleague came to my recently purchased home and said, "Geeze what made you buy this white elephant?" - a sentiment I'd rather she had kept to herself.)
This isn't my hard-earned cash, nor is it my risk - it's entirely yours. While it is my privilege to guide you in this journey, it isn't my place to push an agenda or to make these decisions for you. (Maybe you like the zoo!)
My role, as I see it, is to support you in your decisions (whatever they are) to thoroughly analyze the marketplace, to fully educate you, to judge any competing interest; to write a persuasive offer, to present you and your intentions to the best of my ability and to keep you in play as long as possible.
If I am successful at keeping you well informed and adept at making sure your options remain open, you can best decide whether or not to take the next step forward (white elephant or not)! Hmmm . . .
That's what I really think. Now how can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.