Monday, August 6, 2012

What You Think You Want

For the last several weeks, I have been showing townhouses, condos and villas to a potential buyer that seemingly has no idea what she wants. I am pretty sure that "no idea" isn't overstating it one bit. Clueless...totally clueless.

So far we have looked in 5 cities (4 of those being in the metro area of KC and one in a rural area outside of what any rational person would consider part of Kansas City).  She says she wants a fixer upper but seems to be intolerant of anything that is outdated. She has lowered her upper-budget limit at least three times.

This is where we are at.

She wants this:
For the price of this:

That, in itself, isn't so I am trying to be patient and educating her as to what she can get within her budget. With what she now has set as her "optimal" price range, I think I can find a pretty nice refrigerator box but it will be a fixer-upper.

I tend to hold HGTV at least partially responsible for this disconnect.  I hope you don't believe that buyers will look at only three houses and all three will be clean and tidy.  NO.....THAT DOESN'T HAPPEN IN THE REAL WORLD.  People will look at dozens of houses and there are going to be some nice ones and some are more like "are  you seriously trying to sell this dump"?

Since I obtained my first real estate salesperson license in 1986, I have come to the realization a lot of people don't know specifically what they want to buy until they see "it".  Sure...most start out with a working knowledge of the price range they can afford (but not always) and the general area they want to live (but not always). Some may have a general idea of the number of bedrooms and bathrooms needed...or not.  BUT  all of their "must haves", "would likes" and "absolutely requireds" get's tossed out the window when they see something that connects with them. Houses on busy streets will be bought because the closet has a rack that can hold lots of shoes.  Dream homes will be realized because the kitchen is the prettiest color of terra cotta even though there are foundation problems and termites.  (I am not kidding on that one.)  No amount of my telling a buyer about the value, the condition, or inherent problems with a home will sway them because they love what they love.

I absolutely understand the emotional aspect of connecting with a property.  I do, I really do. I have been both the buyer and seller in my personal life. I have represented hundreds of others in the very stressful negotiations of buying and selling houses. Here's the thing. The purchase or sale of a house can veer away from smart investing and steer more toward a perceived ideal for a happy hearth and home.

When it comes to a person's home (or potential home)  there seems to be a very debilitating blindness that sweeps over the buyers and sellers.   Sellers can't seem to see any of the problems, the mess, or the negatives that are attached to their home.  Conversely, buyers see the problems, the negatives and the mess...times two...and can manage to find a few imaginary problems to throw in as well. (No..the pink bedroom doesn't translate into offering $10,000 less!)

There must be a lot of counter space because there
are a lot of things on the counter.

Must of been running late for work this morning. Do
you love the lighting fixture?

As a Realtor, I have seen the bizarre, the strange, the "are you kidding me".  I have dealt with the difficult, the arrogant, the stubborn and  the know-it-all. These are all offset by the wonderful, gracious, practical and they-make-my-job-a-breeze people.

I have shown houses that have been condemned, have been foreclosed or are inhabited by hoarders.

Luckily I have seen others that are beautifully maintained, wonderfully decorated, and  spotlessly clean.  

Why did you buy what you bought?  Do you think you made good decisions or were you overtaken with the emotion of the moment? 


Bodaciousboomer said...

When we bought we tried to be totally analytical. Sometimes it worked that way, one time not so much...

Cheryl P. said...

I think we also tried to be pragmatic but everytime we bought (and that was a lot with 21 moves) we made choices based on first impressions in communities that we were strangers in. Luckily most (not all) of our homes panned out to be good choices but we always learned something important about the house after we were in it.

Kimberly Wyatt said...

Josh bought our house before we had even met, about 8 or 9 years ago. I hate it here. We've completely gutted and remodeled the kitchen and bathroom, we're almost finished with remodeling the kids' rooms, and we've added three rooms. And it's still not "home" to me, even after almost six years and three kids.

I want to move now, while the market is so good for buyers, but it would be really hard to juggle two mortgages, so we'd need to find a buyer/renter fairly quickly. Still, there's a house that both of us have admired from the outside for years that's now for sale... The pictures of the interior look great. I'm thinking we might schedule a visit, because if he falls in love, I may be able to convince him to seriously consider putting our house on the market.

Chubby Chatterbox said...

We went back to look at the townhouse we eventually bought three times before we bought it. After three offers and counter offers with the builder, I managed to save fifty thousand on the price. Six months later the bottom fell out of the housing market and the builder went bankrupt. The townhouses across the street remained unfinished for two years. When completed, they went on the market for a third less than what we paid.

Margaret (nannygoats) said...

I'm vaguely recalling some psychological study behind that whole, "Why do sellers think their house is worth so much more than buyers do?" mentality. I wouldn't want your job, having to deal with the difficult people. I'm too impatient. C'mon! Decide already! Don't come to me until you know exactly what you want! See? I would be impossible.

Cheryl P. said...

I am like you,,,if a house that I had been admiring came on the market, I would be anxious to see it. It sounds like you have upped the value on your home immensely. I think everywhere is a buyers market these days but in your area what is the sellers market like? I would love to know more. Feel free to email me directly if you would like to chat,

It's a shame that your current house just never jelled to feel like home. It happens like that sometimes.

Cheryl P. said...

Ouch!! Thank goodness, you at least negotiated what you could to lessen the hit. A lot of people assume there is no negotiation with builders. The new FHA rules on multifamily, condos and townhouses have really hurt that market. Builders here also have had to walk away with unfinished properties which cause individual owners to have substantial losses as well. These are the kinds of situations that keep me up at night.

Cheryl P. said...

If there ever was proof for the phrase "looking through rose colored glasses" real estate sellers would be the proof.positive. I have walked into the filthiest nastiest "can't even call it a home" and the people are telling me of improvements they have made. Putting a new water heater into a crappy house just means you have a crappy house with a hot water heater.

Cheryl P. said...

OK Michele, I am an idiot. I put your response in the wrong place. Not as a reply but as a comment.

Linda R. said...

We bought our house for several reasons. The first being price. It was affordable. Secondly, we were getting married so we needed a place since either his rental house nor my apartment were suitable. Third, it was location. It was less than 2 miles from my parents, and we both worked nearby. Coincidentally, we still live there, with plans to eventually upsize - at a time when most other people would be downsizing.

Cheryl P. said...

I am always interested in the reasons why people buy the houses they do. Price certainly plays into the reason why most people buy a house but did you love the house? You are making it larger??? Fascinating.

We live a couple of miles from my daughter and her family and it has worked out really well. Some people would consider that too close for comfort. We do talk once in awhile about downsizing as our house really too big for 2 people and 2 feline children but so far it's all talk and no action.

Linda R. said...

Actually, the only way to upsize is to move. I still own my parents' house so that is a possibility.

Did we love it? It was fine, and at that time it didn't matter so much. My parents thought it was great and that was good enough for me. We'd looked at a lot of others that were nicer, but we just couldn't afford them at the time. There were a lot of reasons to stay where we are, but now we can move if and when we decide to.

Cheryl P. said...

Oh, I thought you meant upsize your actual house as opposed to moving. I get your drift now. I never lived anywhere near my parent. (had only one)
but he always seemed to like the houses we bought. There were a lot of them with 21 moves. Some houses I loved, others I liked and one I couldn't get out of quick enough.