Note: This is my latest post in my series ABCs of buying, selling and investing in real estate. Each post, I select a letter (k this one) and write an fake advice column centered on the letter. The story is fake, but the advice is real(ty).
This post continues the story found in Three Kind of Sellers All Buyers Need to Know Before Making an Offer for a House
Keith was a very established sales man who was at the empty nester stage of his life. He had come to me wanting to buy a a smaller house and inquired about what kind of sellers he could expect in the market. After our initial conversation, he called me a week later telling me that they had finalized their plans and was going to put their home on the market while shopping for a new one. He asked if I could help them with both items. I told him I was flattered he thought of me and I was happy to help. Before I even had a chance to into next steps, Keith asked me what kind of buyers should he expect to show up at his house during showings. He wanted to make sure he sold his home to someone who would take care of it like he did for 35 years. He didn’t want to sell it to some careless, thoughtless buyer who only cared about the deal and not the property. He was especially opposed to selling to an investor. He wanted me to tell him what were some things he could look for in a buyer that would distinguish them beyond just the offer made on his house.
This is what I told Keith….
First, I commended him on his continuing prep work before getting into the process of buying and selling a home. I told him I have many clients who prefer to learn as they go and ask questions as they come up. I told him that these clients tend to bring an unneeded stress to the process by not preparing enough for a pretty complex process. By asking questions before we even start, Keith was setting himself up for a less stressful time. I told him I had one young lady who read all my blog posts and had everything ready to go before we even began to look for her first home. It had to be one of the least stressful home buying experiences I have ever been involved. Of course, there is nothing wrong with learning as you go, and I don’t mind answering questions as they develop, but I am always advising people to learn about the process before we get too far into it. As far as his questions about buyers, I told him that other sellers have asked me this question in the past, with a majority of them wanting to know more about the buyers personally, which can be almost impossible at times without crossing the privacy line that most of us realtors like to adhere. Instead, sellers can look at the buyer’s behavior during the actual selling process to get a truer picture of how responsible, or irresponsible, a buyer will be as a homeowner. Some buyers do some knockout gestures while shopping for a home that sets them apart from the rest even if their offer is not as high on the sales price. Here are three that I told to Keith during our conversation about buying a home.
Be Courteous for the Seller when visiting a home – One knockout gesture that came to mind immediately is common sense to most people, but you would be surprised at some liberties some buyers take upon themselves. Buyers should respect the property and privacy of the sellers. Some buyers, however, will be very insensitive to the sellers and the property. For example, some buyers will go through all the seller’s desk drawers looking for information about the sellers. Some buyers will make messes of the bathroom and kitchen. I have even seen buyers’ let their kids tear up a playroom without putting it all back together. As a real estate agent, I will let the buyers know that they need to respect the property and sellers. Even then, some buyers are more focused on themselves to think of the sellers at all. Buyers who do make an effort to be careful with the property and the sellers always impress me. As a seller, a respectful, courteous buyer during showings translates into a respectable homeowner.
Make Aggressive Offers (or at least reasonable offers) – We are in a seller’s market right now so offers come into sellers in a wide variety of forms and terms. Some real estate agents love the salesmanship game and will do their best to muddle up the process by advising buyers to make offers that have outlandish terms such as a low ball sales price, or ask too much for other fees like closing cost assistance and Residential Service Contract. When buying a home, a buyer can make a knockout gesture to the seller by offering a clean offer with no sign of playing a game with the seller. I am not suggesting that buyers don’t make offers that benefit and protect their best interest, but sellers appreciate offers that do not require a lot of back and forth on the terms. Sellers, like buyers, want the process to move smooth and fast so they can move on with their lives. Buyers do not do themselves any favors by making outlandish offers that do nothing but cause grief for the seller. Most likely, these type of buyers do not think beyond themselves and playing the game so you have their ability to be a respectable homeowner.
- Be Reasonable with Repairs – No one likes repairs except maybe the tradesman who get to jobs to fix them. When buying a home, buyers who are reasonable in the repair request will be making a knockout gesture to the seller. I have seen buyer’s repair requests that were nothing more than the inspection report summary page copied onto the contract amendment. My seller and I took a full hour reviewing the repair request and he ended up agreeing to doing three on the list. Buyers want sellers to take their repair requests seriously. If buyers put in a long list of repairs to a seller, the seller is most likely to do what my client did and refuse to do a majority of them. Buyers should request three to five repairs on items that significant in nature or bothersome to the buyer. If the buyer requests more than this, the seller will react accordingly. Without this knockout gesture, you have to wonder if the buyer will respect the property after purchase.
Keith responded that he certainly hoped he will get buyers making these kind of gestures when buying his home. He could not imagine anyone misbehaving during a showing and thought it was petty and childish. He wanted nothing but reasonable offers from sellers, but understood that some will try to play the game a little too much. Finally, he hated repairs like everyone else and would not stand for any buyers trying to take advantage of the situation. He reinforced with me that he wanted to make sure to not just sell to the highest bidder, but the one who is the best fit to care for a home he lived in for 35 years.