Search This Blog

Monday, December 3, 2012

I Just Want to Look at Homes

It never fails.  I constantly get e-mails and phone calls from people who "want to look at homes" - or want to look at a specific home - right now.  A potential buyer will see a home on a particular website, or driving down the street and call me or e-mail me and say, "Hi, my name is John.  I saw a home on ABC website.  I want to see it.  When can you show it to me?"  That's typically how the conversation starts.  Every agent's dream, right?  A hot-to-trot buyer, ready to go, already has a home picked out.  Not so fast....

Some buyers need to be educated.  Most that contact me in the above manner do not understand how the process works.  It's not as simple as "I'm a buyer, there's a house, show it to me."  If, in fact, you are a buyer who "just wants to see houses" then you need to find an agent who "just shows houses."  In that case, I am not the right agent for you.  Let me explain.

Don't I show houses to people?  Isn't that what I do?  Why can't I just "show you a house?"  Well, I could.  But I prefer not to.  Why?  Because you probably aren't ready to buy a house.  Are you pre-approved with a lender?  Have you established a relationship with your "own" agent, or are you randomly calling agents?  Do you even know what you can afford?  Do you understand the steps in the process of buying a home?    If you answered "no" to any of these questions, you are not ready to buy a home, and therefore, shouldn't be actually looking at homes in person (vs. browsing on the Internet or driving around).

I realize that it's easy to get excited when you are window shopping.  Many people window shop for things when they are not quite ready to purchase.  And there are lots of websites out there that have homes for sale.  I'm not trying to kill the American Dream here, or trying to burst your bubble.    But buying a home is different from, say, buying a big screen t.v. or buying a car.  You can't learn the ins-and-outs of buying a home on line.  You can't research specific homes because every home is unique, vs. finding a certain t.v., finding the place where it has the best price, and just going a buying it.  Buying a home is different.  You really need to understand the process before you start looking at homes.  It can be complicated and treacherous if you do not know what you are doing.  There are many mistakes that first-time buyers have made that they have regretted later: mistakes that have cost them time, money, and even the home of their dreams.  I know, there are plenty of agents who will "just show you homes" if that is all you want.  Just make a few calls, you will find them pretty easily.  Not to mention the fact that if you're just calling on listings on a website that some of the agents you are calling are working for the seller, and not for you.  But that's another story (see my previous blog postings).

Most agents are salespeople.  You want to "buy" a home.  They will "sell it to you."  Great, deal done.  Or is it?

I don't "sell homes," I educate people on how to buy homes.  I give them the tools they need so that they can make an informed decision when the time comes.  I take them through the process from A to Z in the very beginning, before we even look at a single home.  I give my clients an edge that other buyers don't have because I lay the foundation upon which everything else will be built.  My clients are savvy, educated and informed.  They come to me looking for someone who will educate them and guide them through the process of buying (or building) a home.  I am their guide, counselor and instructor.  And I am their advocate.

So, going back to my description in the first paragraph, I have a real challenge.  When I get calls and e-mails from people who are hot-to-trot I try to ask a few relevant questions and see if I can guide them back to a starting point, one that they have missed.  The first thing I ask them is if they are pre-approved with a lender.  If they are not, back to square one.  Why would you consider looking at a home if you are not even pre-approved?  No seller would ever see you as a serious buyer.  And frankly, neither would any agent worth their salt.  Regardless if a potential buyer is pre-approved, or not, my first goal is to get them to meet with me so we can go through the process and make sure they are in the best position to buy a home.  And if they say "no" and "well, I really just want to see this home"  that is usually the end of the conversation if I can't get them to come in and meet with me first.  At that point I know, for the most part, that they are not serious buyers.  If they can't spend an hour of their time learning about the most important financial transaction of their life then I really don't have time for them.  And they usually don't seem to mind.  They can always find an agent, one not like me, who will just "show them homes." 

So, if you are considering buying a home get your ducks in a row!  Become an educated and informed buyer first and you will be in the best position to buy the best home for you at the right time.