You’ve interviewed and chosen an agent and decided what kind of home and neighborhood you’re looking for. You’ve worked with your agent to locate properties you want to see, and have taken into consideration pricing strategies. Now, you’re ready to look at properties—inside and out and make a good buying decision. Here are some important factors to keep in mind:
1. Gather Information
As you tour homes, you’ll be picking up information on each of the homes you will view. As you tour the properties, keep a running list of the homes you see and organize the information you get according to the tour’s organization. Make enough copies for each of the properties you’ll evaluate.
If you’re like most buyers, you’ll probably look at several properties before making a buying decision. These properties may be very similar. Without a method for summarizing and remembering what you saw, you can easily start confusing the features of one property with those of another. Review each of the properties you saw and prioritize them. Decide which ones are still in the running, and which ones are not. That way, you’ll stay focused on what you want and assist your real estate agent in searching for other appropriate properties.
A common complaint among buyers is that the agent didn’t show them the right properties. Some of this may be the buyer’s inability to accurately describe what they want. Frequently, however, this happens because the agent didn’t have the sales communication skills to ask the right questions. It may be the agent’s inability to translate what buyers say they want into the properties available on the market. If you feel you’re not seeing the properties you want to see, tell your agent directly.
Agents aren’t mind readers. Voice your opinions, loud and clear. Look at what you said you wanted. Compare that with the properties your agent is showing you. What’s out of sync? As you looked at properties, you may have changed your parameters subconsciously. Reviewing what you said before you started looking for properties is a great way to get back on track. Here are some tips to help you see the right properties:
If you have outlined very narrow search parameters, your agent may tell you there’s nothing available. In this case, your agent may be taking you too literally. There are hundreds to thousands of homes available to purchase in every area. There’s a strong possibility there is a home for you. It may be in an area other than the one you specified. It may be in a slightly different price range from what you’ve considered; it may be different physically than you described. I think many buyers miss opportunities because agents just don’t ask buyers to expand their parameters. If you hear “there are no homes available,” look at the parameters you’ve given your agent. Sit down and discuss your needs again with your agent, and attempt to expand the price, area, and style parameters.
Earlier, I told you that buyers, on average, look at 18 properties before making a buying decision. There are still some agents who don’t want to show this many properties. They’re operating in an outdated and, in my opinion, manipulative manner. They show three or four homes, and try to “close” the buyer (force the buyer to make a buying decision) on each home. Their philosophy is the more buyers they can close fast, the more money they can make. They don’t much care about establishing long term relationships; those just get in the way of their “numbers game.” These agents even have a pattern of showing. They’ll show you three overpriced and/or beat up homes and, finally, one great one. You get the picture. They’re not showing you homes to educate you; they’re showing you homes to “close” you. If you should find yourself in this situation, I recommend that you discuss the issue with your agent. If you still feel as though your agent is a “closer,” not an educator, sever your relationship with this agent and find one who wants something more than a quick sale.
Before you get serious about a property, observe what’s going on in the neighborhood. Who lives there? If you have children, are there other children in the same age group? Do you see any evidence of people “hanging out”—people you wouldn’t want hanging out around your home? Do you see refuse piled by a few of the homes? What about the yards? Are they well kept, or unkempt? Do you sense that the residents are making improvements on their properties, or letting them go into disrepair? You can easily draw your own conclusions just by driving through the neighborhood and observing.
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