"I want four bedrooms upstairs, three bathrooms, a flat backyard, chef's kitchen with an adjoining family room, great central location that's 'walk-to' everything, and 'turn-key' condition," my client emphatically stated. "Oh, and I need it for only . . ." (Hmmm . . . )
As a friend of mine jokes, "Find me that house and I'll purchase it myself!
The reality is that I can probably find you the bedroom/bathroom count you seek, OR the coveted location, OR the immaculate condition, but it's next to impossible to find everything you want, given a limited budget. And while we're being frank (why not; in for a penny, in for a pound), it's nearly impossible to hit ALL of the bullet points on any buyer's "wish list" - even when price isn't an issue!
In my experience, there is always a bit of compromise, regardless of how much a buyer can - or is willing - to spend. BTW, this isn't just true of buyers; it's true for sellers as well, who expect a result that is literally, "unattainable." I liken it to hunting for the "endangered species," but my GRUBB Co. colleague has a much better term for the impossible outcome. He dubs it "looking for the unicorn!"
I don't mean to dampen your dreams. In fact, I want to encourage them; nothing gives a REALTOR more pleasure than matching buyers with the right homes and given the unprecedented low interest rates now available, within a softer housing market - making purchasing truly more affordable than it has been in fifty years - now is an exceptional time to buy (if you qualify - but that's another column)!
But I have also spent untold hours too numerous to count with clients seeking the "mythical home" that truly doesn't exist. No matter how many properties I show them, they are unwilling - or incapable - of writing. For them, it's all about the shortcomings - never the opportunities.
In short, they're looking for the unicorn.
Here's the skinny: "Real" Buyers write and what's more, they often write on several properties before successfully obtaining "the one." However, these near misses are never wasted. With each new purchase offer, Buyers sharpen their skills, adapt to the demands of the marketplace, and develop a finely-honed sense of "value" that makes it possible to ultimately craft a winning offer.
Oh, I get it!"
With respect to "real" Sellers, they absorb the results of the marketplace, take into account the comparable sales, adjust their asking price quickly when the market speaks, listen to their Realtor's advice, and understand the BIG picture. In other words, they don't test the market; they come ready to sell.
In both cases, it's about being focused, teachable, goal-oriented and open to the possibilities. Otherwise, you may as well spend your time looking for a unicorn.
Your chances of success are about the same.
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.