I'm going to steal a page from the Broker Bryant rulebook and dredge up an old post from the distant past. In fact, what follows is one of my very first posts here on Active Rain, but I was inspired to re-post today it by Susan Haughton's excellent post on the same topic...
Besides I only got 8 comments on it the first go-around (hmpf!), so let's give it another go!
BUYERS ARE NOT LIARS! (first posted January, 2007)
Buyers can be hard to nail down and you'll hear agents talk about the "Buyers Are Liars" phenomenon. It's a phrase usually used in frustration either when an agent loses a buyer or when he's at his wit's end showing homes that the buyer says work for her, but don't inspire her to make an offer. It simply means that buyers don't really know what they want, and often it's true.
Remember, buyers don't shop for houses every day and they probably don't know what they'll respond to until they see it. So you'll need to have a little patience with them.
Find out your buyer's preferred neighborhood. If he is unfamiliar with your city, find out what kind of neighborhood he thinks he'd like - urban, suburban, rural, mountains, coastal? Any particular commuting distance? Does he like charming older homes near the city center or new contemporary homes near the shopping malls? Price range?
Moving on... number of bedrooms, baths, garage? Any special needs? Don't get too specific though. Pushing buyers for too many details is counterproductive, believe it or not. If you keep pushing, he may start making things up to please you. Doesn't everyone want a garage and more than one bath? But he might not really care that much and, if you limit your search to his non-critical parameters, you'll miss a lot of great homes.
The other danger in asking for too many details is that your buyer will start telling you things like, "I really want a window over the kitchen sink" or "I want an open floor plan with lots of light." Depending on your inventory, you may end up with nothing to show her if you rely strictly on her wish list. And if you show her homes that don't meet her "requirements," she may think you weren't listening. You (and she) need to gauge her reactions to different styles of homes in person. Remember, buyers don't shop for homes every day and don't really know what they will respond to until they've seen it.
And you know what else (by the way, this is new material from here on out)? Buyers change their minds about what they want or need. OMG! How dare they? I mean, they TELL us they want to live in this-and-such neighborhood and then, BAM! They find a new favorite neighborhood they'd like to explore. Egads - the nerve of them! (that's sarcasm ;-])
When I was looking for a home in Alabama, I changed my mind at least three times as to whether or not I wanted to live in the City... or the country. Whether or not I could live without a garage. Whether that fourth bedroom was REALLY necessary. My real estate agent hung in there with me, never breathing a hint of annoyance at my incredible insensitivity to wasting her valuable time. Good thing, because if she had, I'd have found someone else more appreciative of the $7,000 paycheck I eventually generated for her, as well as the two other $7k-ish paychecks she got when I bought two rental properties.
My friends, our buyers are not liars. They're just regular human beings who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. And we are well-paid to do just that.
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