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By Tara-Nicholle Nelson | Broker in San Francisco, CA

6 Keys to Having a Zen Home Buying Experience

If you sat down and tried to call up a mental picture of a smart home buyer, the person in your mind’s eye might be sitting in front of the computer, calculator at hand, running numbers and weighing out pros and cons before arriving at a sensible decision. But ask any agent: even the smartest of their buyer clients looks and feels nothing like this image. Once the house hunt begins or the offer is signed, emotions start to fray, tensions run high and stress-induced gray hairs begin to multiply (and/or get pulled out).

Your home is the largest purchase you’ll ever make. So it might seem that emotional side effects like panic and fear are inevitable. But they’re not. You do have the power to manage your emotions and have a relatively blissed-out homebuying experience. And you should seize that power; doing so will not only minimize the discomfort, it will also keep panic and fear from fouling up your decision-making.

Let me hand you some keys - the keys to having a Zen home buying experience:

1.  We fear what we don’t understand. Buying a computer, a TV, even a car – these things aren’t super scary, in part, because we do them repeatedly. But we buy homes much less frequently, and the transactions are much more complex and filled with jargon that is essentially unintelligible to all but those who practice real estate for a living.  On top of all that, the mistakes we stand to make when buying a home, from buying a lemon to taking the wrong mortgage, hold the potential to devastate our lives and our finances for years to come.

No pressure.

The things that create the most fear and panic in a real estate transaction are the things that we don’t understand. Similarly, conflicts, questions and concerns that remain unspoken to your spouse, your agent or your mortgage broker also hold the potential to create deep anxiety and evolve or erupt into serious problems down the road.  

Zen homebuyers are the ones who tend to start educating themselves months, even years, in advance by reading books, frequenting smart personal finance sites, visiting open houses, scouting neighborhoods, and asking questions on discussion boards frequented by experts and fellow consumers. They also educate themselves intensively throughout the process by reading their mortgage, contract, disclosure and inspection documents all the way through and systematically ask the relevant professionals to answer every single one of their questions.  

This question-asking piece can be tough for both the timid, and those used to being the expert. But if you want to minimize your home buying stress, give yourself a gentle shove out of your comfort zone and decide to be willing to readily admit what you don’t know and assertive about insisting on answers.

2.  Ask - and allow - your experts to manage your expectations.
 I’ve found that buyers tend to experience real estate as an emotional rollercoaster when they (a) start out with unrealistic expectations or (b) resist the expectation management their brokers, bankers and agents are trying to dole out. There is a lot of education you can get from books and the web, but when it comes down to the nuts and bolts of making your offer on your home, and anticipating the details of your escrow and moving experience, you should look to your own local agent and mortgage sherpa to help you understand things like:
·    the range of outcomes that might result from your offer, 
·    how long to expect things to take, 
·    when to expect to bring cash in – and how big of a check you should expect to write, each time, and 
·    when you’ll need to take off work to come sign things in person. 

Books and news sites don’t offer the level of detail and local specificity for the nitty-gritty of what you need to know; as well, they also pose the danger of overwhelming you with a firehose of information, when what you really need as you get into a transaction is knowledge: specific answers to questions you actually have or issues you are likely to personally face. 

Don’t just look to your local pros for expectation management and answers, though, listen to them.

3.  Shatter the 8 ball. In any market climate, you are at a negotiating disadvantage if you have an urgent deadline for buying and moving. But in today’s market, when deals are taking just about ever to close, having a deadline doesn’t just put your in an inferior bargaining position - it will drive you predictably crazy!

There are literally hundreds of moving pieces to a real estate transaction, any of which can cause things to fall behind. Your appraisal can come in too low, your inspector can recommend you have a specialist come do another inspection, your lender’s underwriter can take longer than expected, and so on and so forth.

When you are under the gun because you have to close by a certain date keep your interest rate locked, you don’t have enough cash to cover the differential in closing costs if you close at the beginning of next month vs. the end of this month, or because you plain old have to be out of your old place by a certain deadline, every one of those moving pieces and steps in the transaction will become loaded with a disproportionate amount of anxiety. (And you may become tempted to make unwise decisions just to get the transaction moving!)

Neutralize the drama-driving potential of all these potential timeline tripwires by getting out from behind as many timing 8 balls as possible and injecting breathing room as many places as possible.  Talk with your mortgage broker about extending your rate lock, stuff your cash cushion with as much fluff as possible, plan on some overlapping weeks – even a month – where you can be in your old place and your new one. I can vouch: minimizing your home buying time pressures will maximize your Zen.

4.  You’re exceptional, but you’re probably not the exception. Your decision to buy, your work at saving and sprucing your credit, the hard work of wading through all those homes and making the hard decisions about when and where and what to buy, your brilliant taste in real estate blogs (!) – all these things indicate that you are an exceptional person.  But don’t expect to create or to be the exception, or be immune to the predictable irritations and glitches of buying a home on today’s market.

Short sales take a long time. Underwriters sometimes request the same document what seems like a dozen different times. Sellers tend to take the highest qualified offer they get (even when that buyer is nowhere near as beautiful and brilliant as you!). 

With that said, it’s entirely possible that you will have a super smooth transaction, or the shortest short sale ever.  In fact, that is my hope for you. But if you go in expecting to be the exception to these rules of thumb, there’s a good chance you’ll be upset over and over again by things that are completely predictable and, thus, create no need for dismay. On the other hand, if you expect glitches, delays and the like, your emotional experience of the transaction will likely be smooth, even if the transaction itself contains the now-normal bumps.

5.  Cultivate clarity. One extremely common cause of emotional chaos during home buying is the sense that things have spiraled out of your control. Many buyers express feeling that what started out as a very personal vision, dream or aspiration for their lives, their finances and their families is now 100% controlled by banks who don’t care about them or professionals who don’t intimately understand your wants and needs. 

It’s true that not everything in your transaction is within your control, but many things are – and that’s where you should focus your energies. If you start preparing to buy months, even years in advance, by saving, working on your credit, getting referrals to professionals that you feel you can really trust and such, you are much more likely to end up with a home and outcome that satisfies your lifestyle and financial needs.  

You can also optimize for this by writing out a clear vision statement for your post-buying daily life and your personal finances before you ever meet with a real estate agent or mortgage broker, so that you can walk into those meetings and clearly communicate your wants, needs, and what is and isn’t important to you.  That makes it much more likely that you’ll get your needs met and minimizes the chances that your transaction will become derailed from your original intentions.

6.  Manage your own mindset. The list of freak-outs that are common in the emotional landscape of the homebuyer is quite a long one: 
·    the fear that the seller won’t take your offer, 
·    the fear that you’ll pay too much,
·    the fear of surprises, 
·    the fear of mortgage glitches, 
·    the fear that the seller’s bank won’t sign off on the short sale, 
·    the fear that the home of your dreams will turn out to have a bunch of problems,
·    the fear that the appraisal will come in low, 
·    the fear of buying into a declining market, 
·    buyer’s remorse

- and the list goes on. 

Ultimately, only you have the power to be the manager of your mindset. Get educated about the full range of things that may happen and plan accordingly, but avoid mentally dwelling on or worrying about hypothetical disasters and worst case scenarios. 

Learn what things are and are not within your power to control, and decide up front that you will not fixate on or stress about the things that are not. For example, you can control what you offer or whether to house hunt for short sales; you cannot control whether another buyer offers more or whether the seller’s bank green lights the short sale. 

If you do get a curve ball thrown at you, take a deep breath, consult with your experts and make the decision that best serves your personal vision and priorities. Then, don’t look back! 

Agents: How have you seen buyers master their own mental universes?  How do you help them keep calm and carry on, so to speak?

Buyers/Homeowners: What were your personal home buying freak-out moments?  What advice do you have for other buyers who want to up the level of Zen they experience during their transactions?

P.S. - You should follow Trulia and Tara on Facebook!   


By Helen Oliveri,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 07:42
Great home buying tips, Tara.
By Icarus,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 07:44
the fear that the minute you buy your home, another home will come on the market -maybe the home you've been waiting for, and you'll miss out.
By Allonmyown,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 07:58
Just purchased a home in December. The people I worked with? Sorry. Very unprofessional. From the Real Estate Agent who made a pass at me in the living room and did not correctly counsel me on "as is". He then tried to pull a fast one by not contacting the original realtor who showed me the home in order to get out of sharing the commission. Then there was the mortgage guru who said I was driving her crazy for asking questions. (like "whom do you wish the check be made to at closing?" Which was screwed up in the end, btw). I love my new home and have a mortgage I can afford but hate to say it, the pros really did let me down. Do your homework, people. You need to take care of YOU...No one else will.
By Lucy Mccabe,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:04
Very good Tara...
By Kobe,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:08
"You SHOULD?" Old school. Bad choice of words. You CAN do better!
By Kobe,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:11
My only fear now is of my realtor. She is a total dingbat. Can I cancel the contract I signed saying she would be my buyer's agent?
By Ingrid,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:30
I absolutely concur with Allonmyown. Educate yourself! You have to take care of you because in real estate, most people are out for themselves. Its big bucks even though in many places real estate is not what it used to be. I have been in the process of buying a home without a broker (and the sellers don't have one either). I have learned what questions to ask and what things to look out for. In my experience, many (not all) agents try to get you what they think you should want, not what you are trying to tell them you want.
By Gabriel Rojas,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:36
Great stuff Ms. Nelson! I'm a big fan of this article.
By Cheryl Uram,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:40
It sounds like some of had bad experiences with your agents. That doesn't mean don't use one, just choose one who is professional and experienced and will help you through the process. Keep in mind that the agent in NY works for the seller. If as a buyer you want to be represented, you should ask about buyer brokerage. Any qualified buyer broker agent can represent you in the transaction. Or ask the agent to make sure to give you comparables of recent sales near your desired purchase so you know you are paying fair market value. Remember, Not All Realtors are the Same....when you want a realtor who cares call Cheryl Uram, LSA Prudential Elliman 516-852-1604
By Lisa Klarner Call or text,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 08:51
I feel bad for some of your bad experiences, it is very important to work with a good agent. I find that I meet many of my buyers at my open houses where they are in fact interviewing me and then they call me later to set up appointments to look at homes when they are really ready to get serious and know what they are looking for in a home. By then they have met many realtors and have seen and interacted with them and I feel honored when I get that call back from them to work with them.
By Dinao,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:01
7. Breathe.
I have been lucky to connect with very professional, knowledgeable and responsive agents throughout my life for a total of 6 home buying experiences. With the right chemistry in place, the home-buying experience has been downright fun! (Selling, so much more nerve wracking.) Kudos to Ron Woods, Haddonfield, NJ; Mark Arbeit, Margate, NJ; and Genie/Roger Lawless, Santa Cruz, CA.
Best article yet. Connecting with a lot of truth in there. Thank you.
By Robin Searle,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:03
Great article! I feel that one of my primary jobs as a Realtor is to educate my buyers as quickly and thoroughly as possible regarding everything they will be going through from explaining the contract completely to telling them what cash they'll need for inspection and earnest money up front. The loan process has been and continues to be the most stressful part of homebuying for my buyers. I do try to prepare them that they will probably have moments that they despise their lender but it will all be worth it in the end!
By Mike Hogan,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:06
My wife & I signed an agreement of sale (contract) for a short-sale that would have been a second-home/investment property at the Jersey shore. We signed in June 2011 but were informed in February 2012, by the dual-agent, that the seller's disputed the signing of a "promissory note" for the difference between the agreed upon sale price and amount owed to the lender (TD bank). It turns out that the seller's attorney hired to review the documents stalled the deal to the point, I suspect, it was put back on the market with another real estate agency. Now, I am being as asked to submit a new offer with other interested buyer's. It 's gotten to the point that I can't afford the bidding prices being solicited by the seller's attorney.
Isn't a contract a contract, is this past agreement of sale enforceable? I saw no language that said they could proceed in this fashion. Anyone?
By Michael Neal,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:13
As spoken, we have all had these experiences on both sides of the table, There is nothing wrong with not noing an answer at any given time, getting the RIGHT answer as quickly as possible creates Zen in itself
By Eleanor Barrow,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:18
Of course Kobe yes you can terminate contract without any penalties as long as you do not purchase property thru another agent that you actually seen with the previous agent, because I'm sure somewhere in your contract it states in a certain amount of time thats chosen by the Realtor. Ex 30 to 60 days if you do purchase a property that was shown to you by previous agent you may be responsible for payng her a commission. Go over your contract. If that clause is present & you are interested in purchasing property with another Agent that was shown you with previous agent, ask her to amend the Brokerage Agreement, giving you the ability to purchase without having to pay her a commission. When purchasing a home especially if its your first home you need an experienced Agent. If you decide to purchase without your own agent, it's like entering into court without an attorney. Horrific mistake. Buyers representation is usually free for the Buyer as long as they purchase a home that's listed with a Real Estate Brokerage. So why not utilize a free service that benefit you. A Buyer's worst mistake is allowing the Agent who have the house listed for the seller represent them in the transaction, because their fiduciary responsibility is to the seller not you. They are merely performing ministerial service for you. So the terms in the contract will be more beneficial for their client the "seller" than you. If you're interested in purchasing a home in the Atlanta & surrounding areas please call Eleanor Barrow with Virtual Properties Realty. net. "Service You Deserve"
By Elizabeth Wange,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:20
Great article! I have found the buyer clients that I have worked with that hold the attitude of "if it's meant to be" are less stressed and worried about what they cannot control. It isn't always easy, and sometimes to inject humor helps the situation.... but that sort of attitude can go a long way! For the buyers above that had the wrong agent... I am sorry for that, because there are so many of us out there that are professional and do look out for our client's best interest -that is our job!
By Sylvia Jonathan,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:21
As usual, a great post. When I represent a buyer, I find that communicating to them step-by-step as well as a general overview of money and time requirements manages expectations the best way. Some folks are naturally inclined to embrace a Zen state of mind, others are a bit more mercurial. The more excitable buyers can be reassured by a level agent at their side :)
By Randa,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:23
We've been attempting to purchase a foreclosure property owned by Bank of America since the beginning of February. It has been a huge game of hurry-up-and-wait and of misinformation.
Though our offer has been accepted, we still aren't sure now when our closing date will be since its been taking so long (a week or more on nearly every step) for anything to go through the asset manager.
I think more information surrounding timeline of foreclosure properties as they compare to short sales would have been helpful so we could have had more realistic expectations.
By Jeri Creson,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:27
To answer: How do you help clients keep calm and carry on: Tara you are right on target with your suggestions. I like to begin by helping my clients understand that buying a home is a process, not an event. We're not going to get everything we want, each time we make an offer, and there will, absolutely, be surprises. The key is to keep a level head, be clear on what you want, the range that is acceptable to you, and be willing to walk away from something that isn't working, knowing that the right fit lies just around the corner. My husband and I also own and operate a traditional Japanese martial arts school. We teach Nin - from which Ninjutsu comes. Nin means "Patience and Perseverance", and that's the best way to approach any real estate market. Just become your own personal real estate Ninja! : )
By Eileen,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:34
We've found a buyer for our townhouse, and have found a house for ourselves. The closing for the townhouse WAS scheduled for Friday, February 29th. As it turned out, the closing company (affiliated with BOA) was not prepared to proceed. The 'new' house closing was supposed to take place this Monday and also now has to be postponed. So here we sit with our current mortgage and HOA fees due, with no word on rescheduled closings of either! I thought this was supposed to be an exciting time in ones' life. It's been anything BUT exciting! Very stressful and irratating!
By William McClellan Jr,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:51
Personally ..I think Ms Nelson nailed it. My experience selling in Brooklyn and NY city for the last 8 years has shown me managing outlandish expectations is critical and most difficult part of the job! Kudo's!! I will be sharing this article with my base.

Bill McClellan
Sowers Real Estate
Brooklyn NY
By Nirmala Caraballo,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:53
Well said. Very informative and insightful.
By Kevin Kemble,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:56
I have heard stories just like this all too often. As a broker/private investor, I am constantly representing myself in transactions with brokers who are just abhorrent. Brokers who makes deals go bad. I've always worked for people and not for properties. I'm not pushy and I want to get to know every buyer, seller, and even renter. Every person is different and needs a different way to be educated and shown this very complex market. I was once a college English Professor, so I've been trained on how to best explain complexities of language, poetry, novels which has acted as an amazing foundation for explaining a very intricate, yet constantly changing, real estate markert.

I mainly work and buy and sell in Manhattan and Brooklyn, If ever anyone has any questions or needs an honest, creative, and intelligent broker, then do call Kevin Kemble at 302.229.2608 or eMail at kkemble@livingny.com
By debra brown,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 09:56
Great article. I am in the process of building a home. It's crazy how one home builder can differ so much from another. The rates and figures change so much. So much information to take on as a first time home buyer. I finally decided to go with Horizon Homes. Monica Martinez has been very helpful, patient and very pleasant to work with. Even after she was moved to Highland Homes, she still came to my aid whenever there were discrepancies that needed to be resolved with the building of my home.
By vonp2,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 10:02
This was very good information, I have been on such emotional roller coaster with finding the home of my dreams. I placed an offer on a townhouse only to find out it was not FHA approved. My realtor showed me all these places that werent FHA. The majority of the properties I see now are now short sales, I am now pressed for time with trying to move. However I will take my time and expect the unexpected. I am placing an offer on a short sale any advice??
By Barbara Furdyna (732) 319-7751,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 10:30
Excellent article, as always. Knowledge is power and I believe the biggest omission realtors can make is to ASSUME their clients know everything. They don't. So, educating buyers and sellers is key. They need to know the nitty gritty of the real estate process to keep them feeling in control and less fearful! That will make everyone involved happier!
Barbara Furdyna
Ward Wight Sotheby's Internat'l. Realty
Spring Lake, NJ
By James Foy,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 10:47
To all the buyers and sellers out there who are stressed out about this whole process, I'd like to give a few of my insights (FWIW) about the industry:
1. Some of us remember being able to buy a home using as little as 5 sheets of paper. I know one broker who remembers doing things on 2, and that is still the case for some transactions (you will not likely see these). Now a house routinely has 50 pages when you include all the disclosures (agency, natural hazards, title, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide--don't forget water heater strapping, short sale, as-is, etc.) that are used in this current real estate climate.
This places a lot of stress on your agent and they should be acting professionally, but they don't always. Which brings me to the next point.
2. Many salespeople in all professions are lazy. Or more accurately, when the economy is good, real estate sales attracts a large number of lazy people looking for an easy commission. Many of these people are clever, but not very smart. I can honestly say that I wouldn't want to work with nearly half the agents I've met. During the boom the percentage was much higher. The crash has gotten rid of many bad agents, but there are always shysters in the industry.
3. The crash has left the banks and asset managers with a lot of properties, and not enough staff. The legal environment has left banks edgy about hiring more staff, with all the costs that entails, when in places like California, the legislature is talking about suspending all foreclosures. Imagine you sold a product on payments and were denied a legal remedy for collecting--you wouldn't pay people to sit around the collections office. No matter what you think of the banks, I think we all realize that it's tough to hire employees that you may not put to work.
This causes all sorts of delays, and imagine what happens in that sort of office environment; files get lost, misplaced, or have other things stacked on them. We end up suffering for this.
4. There are also real go-getters in the industry. These people are really upset that they don't have more control of the process. The general anxiety may cause them to act unprofessionally. Call them on it. If we as professionals are not acting professionally, feel free to politely inform us of your expectations. We need to be the steady lighthouse that brings the ship into port.
5. Don't be surprised if we tell you things you don't want to hear. A cash offer is great, but it probably won't get the you the best house in the best neighborhood for half price. Many families selling short sale are emotionally attached to their house and are losing money. Many are just using the short sale as a way to stay for free and will sabotage the transaction at the last moment.
These transactions are as varied as humanity. Hopefully, we can guide you through it with the least amount of stress possible. But, keep in mind that moving is one of the most stressful things in life
By Harvey Tepfer,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 10:55
Perhaps the biggest single problem would be the real estate agent who's so hot for that commission that he/she is practically salivating while pressing for a closure on the deal. And I saw a well known R.E. franchise operation in Marina del Rey pushing a loan broker to get the loan closed on an overpriced deal. Not just pressing -- nasty and threatening. There's no Zen there.
By squirrellymom,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 11:30
Awwww, I need some zen today. Buying my first house. I am not working with an agent. Instead, I have been looking at listings on line and driving to the houses to see if I like the area. I am single and want a small house, close to my office with lots of character. Last month I found two homes for sale side by side in a neighborhood I truly love that is only six miles from my work. The houses are almost identical except one has been renovated and the other needs some TLC. One is 25K over my budget and the other is 20K under my budget. I called the listing agent for the less expensive listing and, after looking at the home and living with a decision for a week, I made an offer. It took about another week going back and forth and we had a contract. My loan is approved and everything moving along, including a tentative date to close, until the appraisal came back. It is 20K UNDER agreed price. The listing agent is livid and tells me it is my fault because of the mortgage company I chose and the appraiser they sent. I have seen the appraisal and it looks fair. The comps are as close as he can get to this house (which is 70 years old and in an older neighborhood where the homes almost never come up for sale). The seller's agent wants me to go to another mortgage company and get another appraisal. I have offered the sellers the appraised value and the agent is telling me they will have to give up their retirement money and may have to sell the house at auction if I don't give them more than the appraisal. I also know what they have financed on this house and they would still have about 10K-15K remaining if they accept the appraised price and pay the agent his fee. Anyway, I'm ready to walk away from this house and go next door and make a new offer on the other home. It was used as an active comp on the appraisal sheet and appears to be about $35,000 less than what they are asking for it. Question: Should I show them the appraisal for the house I originally had a contract on and how their house is appraising and make my offer to them based on that number? I'm afraid that if I offer more and it is accepted, I still have to pay for a new appraisal on that house and it may come in lower than my offer and I'm out appraisal fees and.... a house. P.S. Yes, I realize that I should have found an agent to represent me but the sellers agent assured me that he could step outside his role and negotiate for both of us. He also said he would be able to take a lower commission without having another agent involved. So far, he has kept his full percentage in the negotiating. So much for Mr. Nice Guy.
By Bonnie Kelly,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 11:53
Thanks again...so many buyers are afraid to move forward for fear of missing the bottom line.
By Hardley Dupont,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 12:15
Im currently in the process of buying a home in brooklyn. Waiting for the seller to make the necessary renovations before I bring in an inspector. When I first started the process, I felt like I was bamboozled into signing an agreement to work with only one exclusive buyer's agent. It was frustrating at times, because I would find properties without my agent, and the seller's agent was always hesitant to work with me. I am happy to report, that looking back, it was probably the best decision I made through out this process. I have found my agent to be diligent, works extremely hard on my behalf in order to please me, usually goes above and beyond her duties to ensure everything is working together. She also manages my expectations very well. I should note that I was also very proactive throughout the process. I asked tons of questions, read tons of info, and went to many info sessions on the local market. So I knew to expect delays and to become frustrated with my lender. For me in the beginning it was a disadvantage having so much info because, it was really difficult for me to actually listen to my agent. But after I got past that huddle, it has been mainly stress free. I am still going through the process so I guess anything can still happen, but I am confident what extra delays may occur im in the best position to resolve it.
By John Crowe,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 12:25
Nice list. Will share with a few buyers, see how they feel about the content.
By Libby DeKorte,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 12:36
Your article is wonderful. I am a Realtor and in the past I have SET expectations in advance so when the curve ball is speeding towards us we already know to lean to the side. I think WE is also a key term, letting clients know we are in this together and we are working on a desirable outcome. Honesty, direction, and awareness are all keys for getting through this challenging process, and turning it into a zen experience.
By Irene Deleon,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 12:59
I know that home buying is a big decision, and it's take time to find the right home. When you make the decision to start the process, interview several Buyer Agents, in the interview ask them for their sales statistics, how many homes have they sold recently, and the sold price vs list price, ask the agent for references from their previous clients. You can also check the local real estate board to see if there are any complaints or violations against the agent. Ask your friends, co-workers or neighbors for a referral for a professional Realtor. There is a difference. I would never push my client(s) into purchasing a home because I thought it was the right one. You are going to live there, not me! Please remember, all Realtors are NOT the same. There are Many of us who are truly professional. I hope you find the right one to work for YOU.

Irene de Leon, Realtor Northern VA Keller Williams Realty
By Ek,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 13:00
Good points! I guess I am a lucky one. We have been looking for a house in nyc area for 7 months now (actually made 4 offers and had 2 acceptances). It has been very frustrating at times. But some frustration is possible if not to elimitate then at least to reduce. And Buyer's agent (a good one) can really help. I can say we are fortunate to have the best of the best professionals to work with. She educates, give us enough information so we are happy with a purchase we make. I still do my homework: research, study guidelines etc. But my Agent is always few steps ahead of the game (running comps, checking CofO, timeline expectations for closing, submission of documentation, payments, things to do to go through mortgage approval as smoth as possible, just to name a few). I find that many things that Tara brings up in her article (thank you for that) I already learned from my Agent. Her name is Rita Colon-Burnett, Safary Realty in Staten Island, New York. Phone (917) 533-6234. As a matter of fact, thank to her we did not go into 2 bad deals. And I know I drive her nuts by asking so many questions. She gives me the answers or gets them for me with a high degree of professionalism.
By Timothy M. Garrity,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 13:00
Great advice, Tara!

Timothy Garrity - Realtor & Consultant | http://phillyurbanliving.com
By Jena Beaver,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 13:09
One of the hardest things, not only in Real Estate, but in life(!) is remembering that certain things are out of your control and that worrying about THOSE things is wasted energy. We recently tried to buy a home and submitted our offer -- along with 9 other couples. Those few days of waiting were some of the most stressful days I've had but it was a lot of worry for nothing because what the other people offered and who the seller would choose was nothing I could affect! Thanks for the reminder that only so much is in your own control :)
By Curious Person,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 15:13
I am in the process of looking for the best location I can move to in another state, in a particular city. I have been doing this for 5+ years and the picture changes daily in some cases as I find the home I might look at has a contract pending, or has been recently sold. I do not have the luxury of jumping on a look out tour of the area, as I live approx. a days drive from where I intend to move. Why have I been looking this long? Because the RE market I began looking into has so deteriorated that as time went by, the values kept changing, and I began to wonder when the market would stabilize. It seems to have almost gotten there, but not quite, as some homes are still cutting the numbers, yet some are raising the numbers.

I have learned, by doing, that you really cannot get everything you want in a home purchase, unless you get a builder, and have that builder build your home that particular way. I have done this once, for that reason. It does not take as long to build one today as sit once did, and I am being tempted to do it again. We'll see what happens.

I plan to move by this spring. I have a home I own outright, and may even have a buyer on line. So, I will not need any financing, just some coordination in the moving department, and some expenses to pay in advance of this all happening.

I still look every day, at least in the mornings, and sometime also in the evenings for new areas that might be appealing to live in. I leave no stone unturned, and keep a pad at my computer and a three ring binder with all the collected data from that day. Weekly I merge all this data and so it goes. I also have a technique for color coding so as to allow me to quickly move through all this data, and check up on whether the property has been sold. This I developed alone, and it works for me.

So, this message is to work hard people on what you hope to accomplish in the moving department, and cover it all. Do not leave any doors shut, open all of them, and remember if you do not have the key to opening any door in particular that will answer your question, find out who has the key and get them to open it for you.

Keep going.
By Kevin Kemble,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 15:54
Dear Curious Person--

Could you eMail me at kkemble@livingny.com. I'd love to ask you questions about your color coding organization system. Sounds fantastic!


By Sandra Pennington,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 16:56
unsubscribe me from Trulia and do not access my credit card again
By Linda L Lewallen,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 17:28
To Cheryl Uram--I would never ever use your blatantly superficial and horribly self severing services. To put your own private advertisement on this site is way out of line and undoubtedly puts many other buyers like myself off. Would never use you or your office--the term professional and real estate agent do not belong in the same universe! Find another job please and stop polluting the market.
By Beth Horne,  Thu Mar 8 2012, 22:38
OK, We are closing on our house today, and while our realtor could not have been nicer and the sellers were sweet people, we found out in the last 48 hours that there is extensive 'bad blood' with the neighbor! What was supposed to be a common driveway turns out to be just on his side of the property line and he is unwillng to sign a 'right-of-way' so we can get to our own garage. The sellers are putting in a new driveway, but it won't be paved like the other one. It seems that we are going to also have to build a fence on our property line to keep him from using the lower part of our property as a free-for-all and way to get to and dump things into the large creek that borders our property! This neighbor's place looks horrible, with old cars and falling in buildings turning what should be beautiful woods into a junkyard. He also entered the house we are buying against the wishes of the sellers and had it appraised and surveyed and they are pursuing criminal charges.

I called the neighbor, to see if something might be worked out regarding the common driveway but he was not interested in doing anything but insulting me and I admit I got a bit smart with him when he called me 'girl' and told me I didn't know how to listen. I let him have it, and he hung up on me.

Just a word of warning to ANYONE buying a home, make sure you know where the property lines are,if the neighbors are jerks and if there are going to be potential problems, remember you're going to be living there for a long time.

Now, I have to go see about buying some Dobermans...
By Lisa Gagnon,  Fri Mar 9 2012, 04:48
To squirrellymom... it isn't too late to get an agent involved. If there is legitimate concern that the appraisal is not on course, then, the agent can find BETTER comparables and despute it. My guess is there probably aren't better comparable sales than what the appraiser used. I would love to know where agents get off blaming the appraiser for unapproving values. Appraisers go through years of extensive training.. nothing like agents do to come up with value. Appraisers have strick guidelines and criteria that lenders make they adhere to.. agents do not and aren't even aware of the real appraisal process. Are there bad appraisers? Of course, just like any and all other professions but there are more hardworking and honest appraisers than not. Being an appraiser and an agent and based on your comments about the report, it is probably in line with the market. The agent should not be blaming you for using the wrong mortgage company NOR telling you he can negotiate on behalf of his cleint (the seller) and you. At this point, seriously, involve another agent so that you do not need to get beaten up. The sellers have someone to work with and so they should.
By Dan,  Fri Mar 9 2012, 06:24
In my experience, realtors or realty agents are by far the most unprofessional crew out there. I think people that decide to become realtors have been refused employment by the government. Here is a question for the realtors: why is the exact location of your property such a big mystery? Why is a realtor typically incapable of providing a gogle(or other) map link showing the approximate property boundaries? Since when did it become vogue for a realtor to act like a useless clerk instead of a helpful sale enabler?

Do nothing or as little as possible realtors definitely contribute to buying stress.
By Mr, ì •,  Fri Mar 9 2012, 06:27
too bad. what you people expect from agents?
they are nothing but a cab-driver they suppose to be able to sell their knowledge but.......I was ,I am very disappointed numerous time. all we have to do is do-study ourselves and know the things more.
the information they have? that we can get easy from web-site ,maybe more.
I will say they are not only stupid but crooks too.dont you ever trust them ,finla.
By Marybeth Kostrikin ABR GRI CNE,  Fri Mar 9 2012, 08:59
To SquirrellyMom & others:
Realtors are just like anyone else; there are good ones and bad ones. Some do not know how to do their job, some are lazy and expect you to do it for them. A good realtor is a highly sought professional who takes pride in their work and in their ability to get the best possible result for the client.
Before deciding if you want to work with an agent, ask for some references from past clients. When I am contacted by someone looking for a home or wanting to sell a home, that's the first thing I hand them, along with the agency disclosure, so they will know the difference between having an agent who is responsible only to their interests and an agent whose loyalty is divided. In my view, each time I work with a client, that is my reference for the next job. Spend a little time and make your selection carefully, then stick to it like a marriage. Most people have no idea how many hours go into researching listings, phone calls to other realtors and mortgage officers, and working up comparables, before the realtor gets in the car and starts driving around. A good realtor makes a loyal client top priority, and can't afford to waste a lot of time with an undiscerning customer who might write up a deal with another realtor who just happens to be on the spot at the moment.
A good agent knows how to do their job, works diligently, is loyal only to you, will give you far more knowledge than you can get from a web site, and will ultimately save you money.
By Tara Wills,  Sat Mar 10 2012, 07:57
Like with any other profession, there are good Realtors: honest professionals, who take pride in their work, and bad ones. I have heard horror stories where people found a home and just used that agent, or the agent "found them", and they didn't like the experience. As a client, you have to be selective when choosing your Agent. Don't just ask every agent that you bump into to email you listings and show you homes. Ask friends who they used to buy or sell their home, and meet with that person to make sure that you will be able to work well together. Ask for references from past clients. This is an important decision in your life. Actively seek out an agent that is productive and that will work well with you. Tell that agent what you want, and then trust him or her to do their job. If you find that he or she isn't listening to what you are saying, address the issue, and move on, if necessary. We are in the customer service industry. Most of us take great pains to make sure our clients are satisfied. Othewise, they don't refer their friends to us. The best way to have a good experience is to clearly communicate what you want, and if there is a problem. Great article, Tara.
By Jeannie Whitworth,  Sat Mar 10 2012, 14:38
For those buyers that say they do not want to have an agent represent them, stop calling the office and wasting our time. You know it all so handle it all on your own. A quote that I learned early in my career is that buyers are liers. Don't get me wrong here. I have worked with some wonderful buyers, but I have gotten rid of a lot of time wasters that think that I work for free. This is for all the hard working real estate agents that are out there. Keep your heads held high and get rid of the ones that make life feel like hell.
By Chris 832-607-8073,  Sat Mar 10 2012, 14:48
What a great post! Thanks for sharing.....
By kaydana12,  Sat Mar 10 2012, 23:09
I caught my last Real estate agent stealing money from my desk! I placed a small mousetrap inside my top desk drawer inside a jewelry box to catch my handyman who I thought stole money from me the last time he visited. I was wrong it wasn't the handyman. It was my Real Estate Agent! Snap!! scream...when I left the office to bring in more coffee.

I caught her RED HANDED. She had a "guilty" face and asked me accusingly "Why did you put a mousetrap in your jewelry box?" I replied " TO CATCH THE THIEF who has been stealing from me! Get OUT or I call the POLICE!" This person was the local director of the association
By Jeannie Whitworth,  Sun Mar 11 2012, 19:18
That was one person . One bad apple. All I know is that the real estate agents that I work with including myself are some of the hardest working people I know. my customers that I choose to work with know that they get 110 percent from me. Don't blame all real estate agents because of one bad one. If what you are saying is the truth.
By Jaime,  Mon Mar 12 2012, 15:21
Squirrelmom..I had a simular experiecne... the bottom line is the real estate indutry is way off balance. A BPO (Brokers Price Opinion--usually a nice commision number) and a appraisal are so different. The bank flip flops the two depending on which side of the fence they are on. The truth is most banks won't lend you more than appraisal, getting a second appraisal is tough. some appraisals stick like glue so no matter what the number remains for at least 6 months. If you want it so bad pay the difference, but in a low market you are already walking into your home with no equity and will have over paid. This is happening more often than not because the industry refuses to organize and work fairly.... a bank won't lend more than appraisal, but they don't sell less than BPO..ridiculous!!!!
By Jeri Towell,  Wed Mar 14 2012, 15:03
Great article, mostly good comments. Especially like Barbara Fordyna's comments. I agree, knowledge is power. Educating home buyers of the home buying process helps significantly reduce stress. Unfortunately, buyers and sellers are being bombarded with so much misinformation these days. My best advise to a home buyer is to select an honest, experienced, tenacious Realtor willing to work hard for you, has excellent client referrals, then ask that agent to present you with actual market data. Check out more home buyer's tips at: http://www.ilhomedeals.com/For_Buyers.html

Jeri Towell
Keller Williams Fox Valley Realty
St Charles IL
P: 630.258.2263 (text welcome) http://www.ilhomedeals.com
By Shannon Yoffie,  Thu Mar 15 2012, 09:04
Great blog post! I'm working w/ clients right now who need to read this! Thanks Tara
By Ann Glarum,  Thu Mar 15 2012, 09:33
Any suggestions about how to choose a mover? I'm moving from New Jersey to Michigan - I think that the hardest part will be finding a reliable mover and packing everything up. Talk about freaking out!
By cgorman,  Tue Mar 27 2012, 11:07
I recently read that real estate agents are in the top three professions that the general public like the least. Personally, I find them overly aggressive. I am in the market for a new home and I hate the thought of having to deal with one. I wish there was another way!

Cyndi G.

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