C Tann-Starr's Outside Blog

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A Casual Buyer's Perspective Through a Realtor's Point of View

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..."

Oh really?

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Comment balloon 28 commentsC Tann-Starr • October 01 2008 02:42PM

Comments

Hey C ... Excellent points.  And we really do have to point them out to buyers ... they are not apparent to most.  When I'm dealing with cleints who are both selling and buying, it is always interesting to see how upset they get when a showing is canceled, but how ready they are to cancel one themselves.  Good post!

Posted by Marie Meyer, Orange County New York Realtor (Keller Williams Realty) about 12 years ago

Well said Miss Carolyn. I like the part of about some day you will be a home owner and want dignity and respect. Good points.

Posted by Fred Chamberlin, Oak Harbor/Whidbeynulls, #1 Experienced FHA Mortgage Consultant (Guild Mortgage Co - Oak Harbor WA) about 12 years ago

Whacked!!!

 

Carolyn...

This is hard to comment on because you said it all! Featured in "Whacked!!!"

Posted by Richard Weisser, Richard Weisser Retired Real Estate Professional (Richard Weisser Realty) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Marie. I am having a very interesting time with a few of my buyers. I missed a very important meeting today at my office because of someone "fooling around" with my schedule while playing a role to impress a third party. Turns out it was all for nothing in the end because the prospect was not being truthful about their financial situation. I can't imagine why this individual thought I would not find out. We Realtors always find out in the end, so it pays to be straight from the beginning. I can help if people will allow me to... Now I have to do some serious juggling of my schedule tomorrow to make up for what I lost out on today.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Fred. I would love for buyers to take a moment to place themselves in the seller's shoes. They have no idea how stressful it can be to sell a home, especially  when the home owners are emotionally attached to the property. Every time someone says they would like to view a seller's home, it becomes a moment of hope filled anxiety. Each person who walks out that door without a compliment or an offer equals "a rejection" in some home owner's eyes.  

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Richard. I appreciate the feature. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Carolyn, In California we have such a problem that the offers are rquested to be submitted with not only a pre-qul letter but Proof of funds to close and fico scores.  Some banks even want buyers to be pre-qualified by thier own lender.  Is it that way in NY?

Posted by Sidney Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula Kutchuk - Realty Works Temecula, Realty Works Temecula (Realty Works Temecula) about 12 years ago

C I like how you have outlined proper procedures to follow when engaging a Realtor and what buyers should be going to prepare themselves for a purchase.

Posted by Bill Gassett, Metrowest Massachusetts Real Estate (RE/MAX Executive Realty) about 12 years ago

Jane, the market is tough up here. Although what you say is not mandatory, it is an excellent business model and a highly recommended practice to screen and qualify the buyers. I usually ask potential clients if they have a lender or a mortgage broker working with them. If not, I advise them the put a team of professionals in place and consult with a CPA, Mortgage Broker and Attorney. I am more than happy to help them find any category of professional if they do ask me, but I always stress a customer should shop around and be comfortable with his or her decisions because it has to be the representatives of their choice. They have to choose, it is not my job to choose for them

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

C - some terrific points, especially the negotiations with the seller for appointments, etc.

Posted by Mike Saunders (Lanier Partners) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Bill. I think it is important for some buyers to realize investing in a home takes a lot of coordination and is probably one of the largest investments they may ever make in their lifetime. People have to think beyond how many hypothetical rooms they want and where's the shopping mall. There are tax ramifications, school district issues, transportation logistics, appraisals, inspections... There's a lot more to it when people get involved in this process. They need to understand home owners are opening their home to purchasers. They hire real estate professionals to find them people who are ready, willing and able to buy a property. A "For Sale" sign does not give one the right to go "sight seeing" in another person's home. 

I felt the need to blog about this because some people have attitudes that are simply amazing. My goal is to get them to think about what they are doing. If this post helps one person I will be a very happy camper. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Mike. I believe there are some people who are genuinely unaware of what truly goes on in the background.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Hi Carolyn,

Sounds like you had a tire kicker.  They are valuable if you can keep them home looking at your emails until they are actually ready to buy.  I have worked with some who took over a year to get ready but when they were they called me.  Today will be a better day you'll see.

Posted by Paddy (Patricia) Pizappi, Real Estate Associate Broker Hudson Valley NY (Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty) about 12 years ago

Paddy, you are so right about that. I actually got a call last night from a prospect who enjoyed the post and admitted to not thinking about how he was affecting other people in his quest to satisfy his curiosity about the interiors of some homes in his neighborhood. He's getting his paperwork together and will no longer be posing as a home buyer. He knows he can afford a co-op or condo, but just liked looking at houses (LOL). I'm off to the Bronx to do a presentation after I drop Stephen at pre-school. My day should become very interesting. I love meeting people who read my blog. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Carolyn, great point contrasting the casual buyer vs. the serious buyer. A key element in that distinction is whether they are pre-approved or not. Beyond all the nice things that looking at houses can do for your ego, and dreams that you want, above all you must be able to afford the place. Realtors should hone in on this FAST with potential "lookers."

Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) about 12 years ago

 You have been featured in CC!

Posted by Melody Botting, You Deserve The Best (Broker Associate PenFed Realty) about 12 years ago

Who are you again, and which house did I see? That is simply incredible, C. I can't believe the rudeness. It is true that the buyer's visit is costing money, and I never heard it put that way; however, you are absolutely correct. For the most part, I love buyers, but every so often you get a turkey like your so-called buyer.

elizabeth weintraub sacramento real estate agent in land park

Posted by Elizabeth Weintraub Sacramento Realtor Top 1%, Put 40 years of experience to work for you (RE/MAX Gold) about 12 years ago

Cayolnn - You hit the nail on the head.  First these buyers need to know exactly what the bank is willing to lend before expecting to look at properties. 

Posted by Jennifer Fivelsdal, Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection ( JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571) about 12 years ago

Hey C - I think it is so cool that you had a prospect, READ your blog, comment to you on your blog, and most impressive, follow your advice!!!

Posted by Margaret Mitchell, Seacoast Maine & NH Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Yorke Realty) about 12 years ago

Gary, very well said. I am with you 100% on that. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Mel. I appreciate the feature. :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Elizabeth, I adore buyers, they help drive our industry. It's the posers who put a monkey wrench in things. They don't seem to understand that Realtors are scheduling valuable time for them. When I do this, it means that I can not work with another client (who may be a legitimate buyer ready to purchase a home). When posers waste our time or squander another person's opportunity to purchase with a Realtor because we are unavailable and he or she misses getting their bid in on a property, well that just irks me to no end...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Thank you, Jennifer. That is very true and would make the home buying process more efficient if we could rule out homes that exceed the value of the purchasers pre-approved mortgage and available down-payment.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Margaret, very cool indeed. Made my day! :-)

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

The last sentence is so typical when they are seeing homes with other Realtors. I ask them and if they are I tell them to just have them show the one they want to see with me. If it is my listing, I will show it, not for them but for my sellers.

Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) about 12 years ago

Missy, I know what you mean. I've been placed in several rather awkward positions while trying to work for my sellers and had to explain to one young couple that they had been working with a Realtor for a while so they should call her to place the offer on the property rather than jump ship for me to represent them. I was there to represent the seller. They did not like my "attitude" and withdrew. I was glad they did. Their representative was standing in the living-room talking to my sellers while these people where trying to recruit me in the backyard. They thought they could "get a better deal" since it was my listing and I knew how low the owners were willing to go.

I was apalled. The independent buyer's agent was their best representative who was working on their behalf. Trying to get a listing agent to handle both sides of a single transaction and cut out the procuring cause agent is a no-no. That is not how to "get a better deal." Buyers will loose the "loyalty" and "best interests" factor their own representation affords them. They did not understand what I was trying to explain to them, or they just didn't believe me. I don't know... I left them with instructions to make the offer through their agent and never heard from them again.

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

Great points and it'sgreat to remind others how it would feel to be on the other side of the coin.

Posted by Robin Scott, Broker, CRS, ABR, SRS, REALTOR® - Austin Texas (Robin Scott, REALTOR®) about 12 years ago

Robin, I've worked with people only to have them go back later and cut me from the deal because they believed they were saving money by not paying me. I've also had customers lose out on homes because the listing agent treated them like a back-up offer rather than the offer and never presented it to the sellers. I find out when they come back to complain and want me to help fix the mess they created. Some people have a lot of nerve...

Posted by C Tann-Starr (Tann Starr & Associates, Inc.) about 12 years ago

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