Do I Get a Vote?
Hey Julie, can I bring a couple of friends to see the house?" the Buyer asked, "I'd like their opinion." (Respectfully, that's a bad idea.)
I still cringe when I remember an interaction years ago when a Buyer, who was firmly in contract, invited a good friend to join her during inspections and innocently asked, "So what do you think?" no doubt expecting two thumbs up. Instead, her friend looked at her, and without hesitation, said "It's a lovely house, but I can't see YOU living in it." Ouch!
By the end of the day, the Buyers had backed out of escrow.
Which is to say . . . the arrow hit its mark.
Given the controversial election season we've all just witnessed, I thought it apropos to speak to the issue of buying homes "by vote," a process I emphatically do NOT recommend.
Why? Because you don't really want your friends' opinions - you want their approval.
If you want a decision by committee, join the school board, start a book club, or run for Congress. When it comes to buying and selling a home that you and your family will be living in, follow your best instincts. This is your house, your investment, your risk, and it should be YOUR decision.
BTW, that includes your Realtor's opinion as well. I'm often asked, "What do you think?" And while I have lots of thoughts about the homes I show to prospective Buyers, what I think isn't particularly relevant. What the disclosures tell us (or don't), what needs further exploration, what's significant about the neighborhood/school district/community, where the house might appraise, and anything else a naive Buyer should understand in order to make an informed decision ARE all relevant, but whether I like the house or not is of little to NO consequence . . . and that should be true of your friends and family as well (even if they mean no ill intent).
Once you are closed and have the keys firmly in hand, host the neighborhood potluck, volunteer to cater Thanksgiving dinner, and invite your friends over for wine, but don't ask their opinions before unless you want to hear a slew of negative comments.
"Where's all your stuff gonna go?"
"Does the SUV fit in the garage?
"Gee, the guest room isn't very large." (Believe me, that's a good thing.)
"So what did the kids say?" (Did the kids pay for the house? If not, they don't get a vote; they're kids!)
That being said, your spouse, partner, shack-up buddy, or whomever else will be going on the deed DOES get a say, and both of you should be on the same page of the playbook prior to getting into contract. If one person wants "walk-to coffee" off College Avenue, while the other is looking for panoramic views off Skyline Blvd., there's going to be some give and take before you find a happy medium. In fact, when two people want completely divergent criteria, there may even be some "veto" power that's agreed upon. That's fair; buying a home is a BIG decision and you should both love it (or at least, like it).
But if you need confirmation about your decision, by all means, dig in deeper, do your due diligence, question the neighbors, drive by the property at night, research online, and use your Realtor's experience & knowledge to fill in the blanks, WITH the caveat that buying a property is ultimately a leap of faith. AND if you are having second thoughts, don't do it! Because while it's easy to get caught up in the emotion of a beautifully=presented home, in the end, we still want your purchase to be a decision you can comfortably live with - "YOU," being the operative word.
So unless your friend is a contractor, architect, or engineer who can actually shed light on the structure, its potential, or the foundation, who cares what your friends have to say? Did they ask you for your opinion when they bought their home? (I thought not.)
All in favor, say yea!
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.