Tuesday was Cliff's birthday. (Happy birthday, honey.) Luckily, Cliff is a man of simple needs, desiring little more than chocolate cake with raspberry filling to celebrate. (He's already got everything he wants, and more importantly, he knows it.) Having met more than 30 years ago, I've been making chocolate cake for my husband ever since . . . .
The reason I bring this up (aside from the fact that Cliff cringes every time I mention him in The Perspective), is that Cliff wasn't my first love, nor was I his. We were 35 and 30 respectfully, when we married and as might be expected, we'd both had previous relationships before meeting one another. My point being that sometimes you've got to kiss a few (or many?!?) frogs before you meet your Prince Charming.
This is just as true for Home Buyers who often enter the marketplace with set expectations, only to find themselves drawn to something entirely different along the way. For some Buyers, it's not until they walk into the completely unexpected and find themselves "hooked" that the narrative begins to shift.
The old adage that "Buyers are Liars" isn't meant to be derogatory, it's meant to be an honest assessment of the home-buying process overall. Whatever the journey, Buyers must physically try on a lot of homes (and reject a fair number) in order to successfully achieve the desired result on the rocky road to "true love."
While the Internet is a great way to eliminate or identify properties that may be of interest, it's not a substitute for stepping into a home and walking through the rooms, or for strolling the neighborhood, or for driving around to get a better sense of the community at large. In other words, if buying a home is high on your list of priorities, you need to ACTIVELY engage in the process and start visiting open houses on a regular basis.
Seeing "the good, the bad, and the ugly" quickly refines the hunt and narrows your focus like no other exercise can, or will.
As an aside, it's important to remember that your Agent's actions will mirror yours. Therefore, the more involved you are, the more attention you are likely to receive. It's not the Realtor's job to draaag you into the marketplace like some awful chore; REAL Buyers prioritize house hunting, keep their appointments, and place bids!
Having said that, there's often a steep learning curve once you decide to purchase a home no matter how smart you are, OR how well intentioned, OR whether or not you've purchased before (each region of the country can be vastly different). As the process tends to take place just once every decade or so, Buyers usually have little expertise with the home-buying/negotiating/escrow process. In other words, don't expect success the first time out. In fact, it's the missteps, the losses, the underbids and the rejections that clarify the pathway forward.
I was reminded of that last Saturday morning at a mobile signing at my house (the title company had lost power along with all of Montclair Village), when my client turned to me and said, "We have no regrets. This was the right one for us."
That's not only great to hear from my perspective, it's the intended goal AND my fervent hope for every Buyer with whom I work. But - and this is a BIG BUTT (no offense to Kim Kardashian), it's hard to trust the quest if you haven't lost a few homes along the way.
Because this Buyer and her husband had bid on another house the week before and came in WELL under the accepted price, it immediately clarified the "value proposition" for the home they successfully bid on and ultimately bought. Moreover, this wasn't the second house they had walked into, it followed on the heels of six months of vigorous hunting and serious consideration. Thus, when it came time to get REAL, these Buyers were good and ready and knew exactly what to do, AND what it would take to do it. (It helped that they were highly coachable and listened!)
Moreover, they chose to work with a neighborhood specialist (that's me), who could speak at length about past and present like-kind sales, provide context, and help craft a winning offer. With all due respect, although your father, aunt, or best friend may hold a real estate license, it doesn't necessarily translate into a winning strategy. Have them refer you to a local agent and accept a referral fee instead; they'll be doing you a favor and you're far more likely to actually get the house you've been pining for.
So give me a call and let's go kiss a few frogs. I promise you it will ultimately lead to your Prince Charming: Mid-Century Modern, Story-book Traditional, or Condo in the sky . . . .
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.