A Casual Buyer's "perspective" of the real estate process has always been a little fascinating to me, especially when it is a first time purchaser armed with doom and gloom stories from relatives, co-workers, the television and/or newspapers.
It has been my experience that some people I have met (and probably will continue to meet) may have a lot of misconceptions about the real estate process. My recent conversations and experience with a prospect interested in purchasing a home either in Fresh Meadows, Flushing, Forest Hills or Briarwood has inspired me to post this blog. This person has been bouncing from Realtor to Realtor in a random quest for housing and I do not believe that is a wise course of action. I will attempt to explain why:
In sum and substance, the agent and/or broker who works with the buyer (whether customer or client) is often referred to as the “Cooperating Broker” "Selling Agent" and/or the “Buyer’s Broker.” Regardless of whether a Realtor is a Listing or Selling Agent, we all work very hard for a living researching and preparing our inventory of homes to present to a potential purchaser. When we, as cooperating brokers, do our initial interview of a buyer it would be really lovely if you, the potential buyer, would take the process more seriously and truly put some thought into your answers. Our work product is based upon what you say.
In addition, get pre-approved before you ever pick up a phone to make any appointment to view a home. If you are not pre-approved, you have no idea what you can and can not afford to purchase. Why would you go shopping without the means to buy? You wouldn't dare go to the grocery store, pick out your essentials without a means to pay. Why gamble with the home selection process and risk losing your dream home by discovering you can't afford the property? Serious prospects have a potential mortgage in place. If you are not pre-approved, you are a casual shopper just looking and thinking randomly about buying. If a seller has a choice between two bids, one without a mortgage and one with a pre-approval letter, who do you think will be viewed as the prospect to pledge the home to? The one who can close the transaction, of course, not the one who might be able to once they get around to trying to find a lender...
If you, the potential buyer, are not ready to purchase now but will be at a particular point later in time, tell the Realtor the truth. We would love to help you prepare for when you are ready to purchase. What we do not like is when people play games about their intentions. We are licensed professionals expecting to be paid for our time, talent and resources expended upon a project. When you pick up the phone and call us that project has been initiated by you. If you were to call seven attorneys and asked them all the same question, you would receive seven bills for the time and effort each firm put into servicing your needs. The same way you would never think to waste the time of an attorney, or multiple attorneys, you may want to re-evaluate your thought process behind believing it is okay to call seven different real estate firms and having multiple brokers and agents at your beck and call, especially when you are a casual buyer not ready to purchase at all. I am here to tell you that it is not okay to waste anyone's valuable time. We do not work for free. This is how we make our living and put food on the table. You need to think of us a group of people who have needs and bills just like you do and respect our profession.
Contrary to television portrayals, one of the most important points a consumer has to grasp is the fact that Cooperating Brokers spend a tremendous amount of time, resources and negotiating talent in their attempts to find suitable housing from the available Multiple Listing Service and private database property stock. In our efforts to match the buyers’ preferences based upon their stated needs, we read through hundreds of listings before we select the handful that we manage to negotiate appointments for.
Yes. That is correct. We negotiate your appointments. The homeowners work for a living and their personal schedules do not match your personal schedule. While you may casually decide you would like to "view" a home, some of those people whose lives you are disrupting (owners and tenants) have to find babysitters, pet sitters, swap tours of work duty, leave the job early or not go to work at all just so you can casually stroll among their personal effects and comment about the decor. I would like to also take the time to point out that you may want to suspend your criticisms long enough to imagine your own furniture in a home rather than pick on someone else' tastes, because, after all, the entire point of the exercise is to help YOU find a home to put YOUR STUFF in.
I would like to point out your visit is costing someone else money: (a) the listing agent, (b) the buyer's agent, (c) the residents of the home. If you are truly just looking and not ready to buy, stick with attending open houses and stop wasting everyones' time because you are not being honest with your Realtor about your potential purchasing time-line. You are also giving sellers false hope.
One day you will be a home owner. You will want the same dignity and respect afforded to you when you put your home on the market. You will want and expect professional representatives to look out for your best interests. I am speaking bluntly because I like buyers and I want my buyers to think about what it is that he or she is doing when they pick up the phone and decide they want to see a home. In my experience, most buyers don't give the nature of their request a second thought. They do not see anything wrong with calling several agents asking each one to show them a single home. I have on several occasions returned a prospect's call after scheduling the appointments they have asked for only to be asked/told, "Who are you again? Which house did I ask to see? When did I ask to see it? Oh, no I have a ballgame (or some other excuse) to go to. I can't make it. You'll have to reschedule..."
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