Technology is great. When I started in the business in the late 80s I would have never thought I would be writing a blog (and would not even have known what the word meant). I would have never thought my clients would be using a computer to find homes. And that they would be able to pull up pictures, get aerial views, estimated values and more – unfathomable.
This is all wonderful but despite all of our advances, nothing beats old fashioned “boots on the ground” (just saw Acts of Valor with my son). Let me explain what I mean.
A few months back, I had a young couple looking to purchase their first home in Vienna VA. In typical fashion we started the home search with a set of wants and needs. I showed them homes that closely fit the criteria but also stretched some of the edges. We looked in slightly different geographic areas. We looked at styles of homes that they had not mentioned but were ones that could possibly work. We looked at homes where one aspect of the search criteria was spectacular (a top of the line kitchen) but the home lacked another key feature ( a 2 car garage.)
I have found that a home search is an evolutionary process. Almost all buyers I have worked with start with an idea but once they hit the street and start to see homes, the picture of what constitutes a great home changes. I feel it is my job to help folks realize their options and help them work through the choices and trade offs involved.
Early in a search, my goal is to challenge buyers with an array of possibilities and hope they tell me a few seem right and also that a few absolutely will not work. A home search is simultaneously selection and rejection. I try hard to see the world through the eyes of the buyer to understand the must haves and deal killers.
The first few times out, we are looking at a wide variety of homes and over time the focus narrows. As I get to understand the buyers, I start to preview homes in advance of showing them. Many homes look good on paper but once seen live do not meet the client’s needs. By previewing in advance and seeing the home through their eyes, I can eliminate those that would waste our time.
And occasionally, I see a home that I just know is the right home for a particular set of buyers which is exactly what happened with the young first time buyers, Adrienne and Jason, that I mentioned above.
We had been looking for a few weeks and I really had a sense of what they wanted. One Friday, a home came on the market that seemed perfect. I went out to take a look and I felt it was just what they wanted. I sent the listing to them via email and said we need to see this as soon as possible. We were already set up to go out on Sunday but I was hoping they could see it on Saturday. They could not so we decided to meet Sunday afternoon as planned.
Next I called the listing agent to ensure the home was still available. Unbelievably, a contract had come in on the home BUT the sellers were out of town and the agent was presenting that offer at 2 on Sunday. Well, if Adrienne and Jason went to see it on Sunday afternoon, they would not have time to get a contract in. I called them and we shifted our meeting time to Sunday morning.
I so believed this was the right home that in advance of our meeting I filled out most of the contract for the home except for the key terms such as price, settlement etc which we would decide on later. I kept the contract in my folder. If they liked the home, we would be prepared to move forward quickly. They did like the home. We worked out the details of our offer and I got it to the agent in time for her presentation. We beat the other contract and were the winner.
Not every agent believes in previewing. I do. It makes the time I spend with clients more productive and sometimes, as in the case of Adrienne and Jason, results in a new home. What would have happened if I didn’t preview? Well, we would have seen that home on Sunday and seen several others as well. (The “several others” we would have seen, I saw on Friday. I clearly saw that they were better on paper than in person and were not contenders.)
Then Adrienne and Jason would have gone home and thought about the day’s showings. Perhaps on Sunday night they would have called to tell me to write up an offer on the the one they liked. I then would have called the listing agent only to find out it was already sold.
Previewing pays. Timely reaction to the market pays. Boots on the ground pays. Technology is great and can get us to the end result more effectively but a Realtor can’t forget good old fashioned hustle.