For most people, buying a home is thought of or remembered as an event. However, when I assist my buyers in their quest to buy a home, I think of it as a process. To put it more succinctly; I don't make the decisions, my job is to help my buyers find clarity and confidence in their decisions. Whether you’re in the market or not, I would like to share a few elements of my process that help bring clarity to the minds of my buyers. Let’s start with the four stages of home buying:
Curiosity: I think of this as the “Dream” phase and the buyer’s mind is often a blank canvas. Buyer’s in this exploration phase will spend most if not all their time and energy passively searching for homes on the internet.
Interest: At this point buyers begin to get a little more active, typically driving-by available homes or attending open houses. This is often the stage in which buyers select their broker and lender.
Desire: These buyers have been pre-approved for a home loan and they probably have an agent in mind to assist them when the time is convenient. They check for new listings regularly and reserve several days a month for looking at homes, usually on weekends.
Commitment: These buyers are out looking a couple of days each week. They’re watching for new listings as well as price reductions and back-on-markets daily. They’ve learned that by waiting for the weekend to see a home, they run the risk of losing it.
I find that many buyers get stuck between 3 & 4. These folks don’t usually have a firm purchase date in mind, so they say things like, “I’ll move when I find the right home”. This point of view is understandable but it’s not a very effective strategy in a seller’s market such as ours. As prices rise over months and years, buyers wedged between desire and commitment often end up watching the market move away from them.
A big factor to consider in the buying process is fear and/or lack of confidence. I’ve found that nearly all poorly informed buyers share similar concerns when it comes down to writing up an offer. These buyers will often say things like, “We need to think about it”, what they’re really saying is:
How do we know if this the right property?
Did we or will we miss the right property if we buy this one?
Are we paying too much?
Is there something wrong with this property that we haven’t seen or can’t see?
This crisis in confidence typically leads to the missing of good houses and writing of offers that go nowhere, I mostly blame this on the buyer’s agents. There are many variations, but all agents should have tools available to help buyers refine their decision. Their process should NOT include looking at every available home in the buyer’s price range. That strategy is very time consuming and more importantly, by the time the buyers have seen the last house, new ones have popped on the market.
I don’t have any tricks or closing techniques to share but I can say that confident, decisive and committed buyers tend to make the best decisions. How do I get them to that place? I rely on these three main strategies:
1) Separate the needs from the wants: Buyers rarely find the perfect home, they almost always choose the home that checks the greatest number boxes. I help buyers determine what those boxes are and in what order they’re placed.
2) It’s not the What, it’s the WHY: I have found that many people looking for a view-home are equally interested in privacy. Another classic example would be people searching for a home with a swimming pool. Often, these folks could care less about swimming. They want to own “THAT House”, the one all the neighborhood kids and/or grandkids love to hangout at.
3) Be a good listener: Real estate brokers and agents tend to be pleasers, quick to share what they know and how much they can help. It hasn't been easy but I have become an active listener. I’ve learned that the magic lies in good questions, not necessarily the answers.
As I write this I’m reminded once again as to how profoundly Larry Kendall and The Group have influenced my career, thank you. If you’re a home buyer looking for thoughtful, intuitive representation in Reno & Sparks please send me a note. firstname.lastname@example.org.