I had an enlightening conversation with a buyer prospect yesterday who had visited one of my listings over the weekend. Her name was Ann. I have never met Ann, though we’ve spoken several times by phone. Ann and her husband have been looking for a home for ages. They have a budget of about $500K, want 3 bedrooms, 2 baths minimum and a large, private lot. If everything were in tip-top shape, they could press to $525K. However, if the price was right and everything else fell into place, they would be willing to do the updating themselves. My listing unfortunately while great inside, needs about $13,000 of masonry and pool plaster and pool equipment repair and at $540K asking, she told me there was just too much to do at that price.
What she said next was very telling. “These sellers are just unrealistic. We have seen a couple of great homes at $500K, larger than yours and in better condition, (not the same location of course), but for one reason or another, we were either too late or out bid. And now, I’m just exhausted and I’m going to stop looking and take 6 months off; I’m done.”
Exhausted. What a funny thing to say. But I’m hearing it a lot more lately. It’s not uncommon for a buyer to feel sellers are unrealistic, especially buyers that are frustrated. Frustrated that prices haven’t fallen as much as they think they should, frustrated by investors; frustrated the government keeps slowing the flow of foreclosures, subsidizing prices with tax credits and rewarding bad borrowers with a million different unfair strategies to keep them in their homes. It’s supposed to be a buyer’s market right? So there should be ample properties for purchase in all ranges and sellers clearly must understand that if they want to sell, they have to offer a real value. Exhausted. This was not the first time I’ve had a really frustrated buyer. I recently closed escrow with a wonderful British family that I began a home purchase dialog with in spring 2008. They articulated the same frustration. Frustration that sellers weren’t realistic; that investors were buying the real deals and then flipping them for more money; that it wasn’t fair, and that all they wanted was to find a nice property for them to call home. As I said, we found that home – finally – after nearly 4 years of hunting. It was a diamond in the rough, and a little more than they wanted to spend given the condition, but in the end had a great location and a floorplan that worked. It was also bigger than we ever really expected to find.
The interesting thing about what Ann said was that she was just plain tired. I called my recently closed British client and told her the story. She said she hit that wall a few times and was really, really ready to give up just when we finally found her home. It’s a lot of work looking and looking for a home. It’s a lot of work when you are unsuccessful and willing to spend a half a million dollars. It’s lot of work and at some point it’s just no longer fun. In fact as in Ann’s case, it’s misery.
So where is the disconnect? Why is it so difficult for some people to find a home? Are their expectations unrealistic? Perhaps to a degree they are. I have told so many buyers over the years that the perfect home doesn’t exist, and it’s really true. Yet to sacrifice on your most important purchase, just doesn’t sit right either.
This market has made buying a home a fear driven decision. This is no way to buy, it leads to mistakes. I tell my clients I am a facilitator: someone to help them avoid making a mistake, make the process hassle free, to make their “Realty Dreams Reality”. My financial adviser tells me, investing is not just about the return on investment, but return as weighed against risk and asset preservation. Similarly, buying a home is not just about return on investment but about quality of life, personal satisfaction and long term security.
Exhausted. Maybe Ann just needs the right Realtor.