By Rona Fischman
One of the best training tools for me, as a buyer’s agent, has been to take classes designed by seller-centered real estate companies to teach agents how to “handle” house buyers. I got most of my early education in a real estate world that expected all agents to be working for the seller. That’s where I first heard “buyers are liars.”
A little history: Until the mid-00s, there was a relationship called “seller’s sub-agency.” A seller’s agent drove buyers around, opened the door and sold the house for the company that was on the sign outside. If the seller’s agent worked for the company on the sign, it was seller’s agency; if the agent worked for another company, it was sub-agency. The sub-agent never met the seller, but had the obligation to work for the best price and terms for that seller. The real estate agents knew the buyers, asked lots of questions about what they wanted, but the negotiation was stacked against the buyer.
When I first started in real estate, residential buyer’s agency was just beginning. I did a handful of transactions as a seller’s subagent, then went to buyer agency only. Although the days of treating buyers like a customer are over, legally, some of the bad attitude that the buyer is just not buying to annoy the agent, lingers. Thus, the old saw “buyers are liars.”
Buyers are not liars. Buyers often do not know what they want until they see it. There is a trial and error period when they are working to get the right balance between size, location and condition. Here’s a case in point.
I started with some new buyers last week. We went house hunting for the first time this past weekend. At our consultation and planning meeting, the new client said something along the lines of, “this is my forever house, so I don’t want to be on a busy street.” Dave Twombly and I created lists of houses to see. We avoided houses on busy streets, which was easy since there are a lot of choices for these buyers. The buyers chose some of those, plus a house at a traffic light on a busy street. Buyers are liars? No! Buyers need time to learn the marketplace.
The house looked really good to them and it was (barely) in their price range. The reason such a nice house was in their range was because the location was a problem for most people. At first showing, they were excited about it. The room dimensions were good, the condition was good, the size was a little small inside and perfect outside.
I went back with them on Sunday. The crowded open house made them realize how small the house was. Their perception changed. They realized that this compromise on location wasn’t worth it. It was a good choice after all. They learned something about their need for interior space.
On the way back to the car, my buyer commented that the traffic was “so much worse” on Sunday than Saturday (when Dave showed the house.) I smiled broadly and said, “I don’t believe you.”
These clients eventually chose a house on a quiet street that, in many ways, was a lot like the one they saw that Sunday. Congratulations to D and L! They close this month.