Home Buying in Charlotte>Question Details

Donna Johnst…, Real Estate Pro in Charlotte, NC

Finding the "Needle in the Haystack?"

Asked by Donna Johnston, Charlotte, NC Thu Apr 15, 2010

When I am out with buyers in today's market there are so many properties on the market the buyers tend to eliminate properties even though it fits all of their criteria. Recently, I found a home that was updated, big for a home business etc, and suddenly the laundry room was not BIG enough. What have real estate professionals done to get to contract- what do buyers want from us that we are not providing? Besides to many choices...

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Donna, I hear you! It seems that the supply is go huge here that they have to see them all in order to eliminate them in their minds. Then, they can't remember the properties because they've seen so many. I always tell my buyers to give me specifics that they want and we'll find it within the first 6 properties that I show them. On occasion I get those that do exploring on their own and then want to see every home available. It takes forever to get them into a property when that happens! I'm SO looking forward to that seller's market again!!
Web Reference: http://www.SoldByDebe.com
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 18, 2010
We don't have "too many choices" here in Seattle, but generally, I think that agents and buyers need to be on the same page when it comes to understanding the motivation to buy, and whether a lack of motivation makes them a viable client.

Agents need to understand what buying a home means to a client, and buyers need to realize that there is no perfect house - the perfect, it was written, is the enemy of the good. There is no "taking the living room from that house and combining it with the family room of this house."

I have asked buyers when I've shown them a house that they like, but don't want to buy, "Do you think we'll see a better house within your budget any time soon?" Which is the question they're often looking to ask me.

Sometimes, especially in this market, they really don't want to buy, they want to "try" to buy.

All the best,
2 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 15, 2010
It is understandable that buyers want to feel comfortable about what they're buying. But, if they have been looking for a long time...

PLAN "A"
Why not suggest they take a run out to a new community?

Many custom builders will build exactly what a buyer wants, especially today.

I worked for builders for years. Some custom builders will move walls and make other accommodations in their plans. Others won't. Call ahead and ask the builder or community manager what they will do for buyers. They will be happy to speak to you.

As for that doorknob comment of your buyer, darn...

There are some answers you are not likely to have in your head.

PLAN "B"
When a buyer offers an opinion and it strikes me as unusual, I have to ask more questions. I like to ask questions anyway, not because I'm nosy, but the more I know the better job I can do in matching buyer and home.

I would offer in your situation that they could stack the washer and dryer. Lots of folks do it. You might have to ask additional questions. For instance, does the buyer want to do their ironing in the laundry room? You might offer that the seller always took the laundry into the adjacent rec room to iron. Of course, it can be another issue, too. If the laundry room doubles as a mudroom, it's sometimes difficult for someone to imagine how a laundry/ mud room is going to work if they lived in a home that had separate rooms for those functions.

Some buyers are uncertain what they want, and looking becomes a process. Of course, if they are intent on acting before April 30, they need to hurry. Be a closer. Ask if the concern is critical, or if they can live with smaller? A lot of people are going for smaller these days.

Best,
SuZ
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Apr 22, 2010
||||||| UPDATE June 3, 2011

A year removed from this question, Donna could still be asking this question. That's not a statement about Donna. The market was slow then and it's slower now. That can be stressful for everyone.

Donna, I can relate. I've had a few "high maintenance" customers. When I worked with Engle Homes, I can recall a buyer who had very specific needs and a lot of them.

Engle set itself apart from the builders that wanted to build as many homes as the market could bear. Our reputation was important and that attitude was reflected in the fact Engle consistently appeared at the top of the list with J.D. Powers. Let's just say that our attention to detail and customer satisfaction was put to the test occasionally. The buyer in question became known downtown as "that customer." We responded to every request. We made this customer happy on every count. In the final analysis, it was worth the effort.

Why? It became apparent after this customer was settled into his gorgeous new home. That customer ended up referring clients. His friends knew he had very particular tastes. So, there was a higher comfort level when introduced to these great people. The next sale went smoother. Years later, I still run into these friends. They're happy and enjoying their homes.

Stress that comes from a slower market has us thinking that we're working harder than ever for substantially fewer dollars. But we should remind ourselves we knew the job required a lot of work going in. The day starts early and can end late at night. We cover a lot of territory, answer dozens of questions and then we face a stack of paperwork - if the day went well. If you don't enjoy people and looking at homes, it can seem like a long, long day.

My advice is the same today as it was then. You're the problem solver. If you're worth your salt, you ask questions and discover the need. Then you go to work on finding the answer. If you know your community, then you know what homes are out there. If you spent enough time with a prospective buyer, then you know what they can afford and where they should be looking. It's a matter of footwork beyond that.

When you feel that a couple is close, you might hone in on their "true" needs. If you have been looking for a while, you should have collected plenty of notes from them. You might ask them if that particular need is a deal breaker. If it's a home they love, they might look past something like an undersized laundry room. After all, the overall trend in building is toward downsizing. You might agree that rooms are indeed smaller. It's a positive - think of how much energy savings will be realized!

If you have already seen three or four homes that day, I would suggest calling it a day so people can get a meal and talk about what they have seen. After a few hours, you might talk again to see if you're getting close. Or, can you show them something (based on the notes you collect from their feedback) or would they like to see a home again.

I've been on the other side. When I was shopping in northern California during the previous slump, I quickly got the sense the agents were stressed. It took a while to find what I needed. As I made my way through the homes and agents, I picked up on the sense that I was not important to some agents. Eventually, I ended up buying a home through an agent who took good notes and found what I needed. If you send out vibes that you really don't like what you're doing, it shows.

The best agents are forged in the fiery process of greater competition. Use these times to assess the service you provide.

Best,
SuZ
PML of Longmont, CO
720 810 0683
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 3, 2011
Along these lines, one of the difficult things we, as agents, need to do is qualify the buyer correctly - do they demand a home that doesn't exist, or that they can't afford?

Some buyers just need to be educated - 1700-sf Craftsman-style houses didn't generally come with family rooms of the kitchen and ginormous master bedroom suites; mid-century modern homes rarely have high ceilings or box beams in the dining room. But if the buyer insists on looking for that impossible home at an impossible price, perhaps another agent should accompany them on the journey.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 18, 2010
Donna,

It is important to understand your buyer's motivation when purchasing. Many times the home we may select to show match the criteria they say they wanted but doesn't match that key thing they are really looking for. The hard thing is they won't always tell you initially what the motivation so be very careful to watch for buying signs and listen carefully to their answers to questions in your interview. Buyers, especially first time buyers have a fear of making the wrong choice, so you need to be sure to address their fears. You will find the more you look through their eyes, the sooner you will be able to find them that perfect home. Good Luck.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 18, 2010
OH, and I forgot to mention--either they miss the ones that fit their needs exactly when they take too long OR they wind up going back to one of the first six that they saw!

Did I say, frustrating?!!
Web Reference: http://www.SoldByDebe.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Apr 18, 2010
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