Seems to me that some agents see buyers as annoying people who should just give agents money and not waste their precious time. I cannot disagree more. Agents, like this author, are annoying people who think the world owes them a living! A real agent’s job is to spend time and energy to help buyers make good decisions; that is what they are being paid to do.
Recently on Zillow, there was this piece complaining about buyer behavior. I disagree with most of it. (His complaints in bold. My comments in paragraph text.)
You request additional showings, bring an entourage, etc. — but never make an offer
If a house needs major renovation, a buyer needs an estimate of the costs. It makes a difference if it will cost $25,000 to cure or $125,000. It may take a couple of hours to find out. It is better to say “no” to a house early than to have a transaction fail weeks later.
You make unjustified lowball offers
I agree that unjustified lowball offers are a waste of everyone’s time and erodes goodwill, if the buyer wants to make another offer later. However, an experienced agent should be setting expectations, so that their clients understand the best way to get the lowest price. Since unjustified lowballs are not the road to success, only an uninformed buyer would insist on doing it. Whose job is it to inform a buyer about how to get the best price and terms? The agent’s.
There are times when a buyer is justified in offering far less than asking price. I do not consider that a lowball. Here’s why.
You plan to negotiate the price down during escrow but don’t tell your agent
This is a matter of bad communication. A client and agent should have an overall negotiation strategy before beginning to make any particular offer. If that discussion didn’t happen, it is the agent’s fault.
You make big demands on the agent’s time but are a long way from being serious
Once again, this is a matter of communication and expectation setting. That’s the agent’s job. Common buyer mistakes include focusing on little things and missing the big picture. For example: buyers will spend time studying the listing sheet, then walk into the house and hate it. I suggest that buyers use the listing sheet to choose what house might work. I help them choose some “rule out” factors. Then, I show them how to do “triage” by keeping focus on the most important (frequently most expensive) issues about the place they like.
You keep changing your mind about what you want
Yes, there are preliminary decisions that should be made before engaging an agent. Some people come to an agent too soon, before they have committed to living in a certain area. A good agent can advise would-be buyers on how to effectively choose location and price range, and understand closing costs.
I am writing this in the spring of 2014, when the Boston area is experiencing a very unbalanced Seller’s market. I can only assume that the writer of this blog entry does not work in a market like this. Here in Boston, 2014, it is a fast market. One that doesn’t allow buyers to evaluate what they are buying. One that rarely has room for buyers to negotiate after home inspection. One where seller’s agents and buyer’s agents from listing companies are advising clients to waive their rights to inspection and mortgage contingencies. Our challenges are very different than his. In this market it takes both hard work and good communication to help buyers make decisions that will affect them for years to come.