I guess I really shouldn't be surprised but I am always caught off guard when my buyer clients start out saying they want one thing and within a couple of visits make a complete 180 and want something different.
Now, before my fellow real estate professional tell me I should have a thorough and complete buyer consultation at the outset of a home search -- I do. No, not 100% of the time. I do like to get a good fix on what my buyers want, though, so I don't spend a whole lot of time riding around, burning gas, putting wear and tear on my car and filling out feedback forms for listing agents.
Here's an example: new buyer clients say they're interested in a certain area because they want their kids to go to a certain school. They've already done the research and this school is the school. Great! Narrows down the geographic area (or does it?). They also tell me they want a certain number of bedrooms and baths, single family home, etc. etc. They have it pretty well narrowed down (or do they?). Oh yeah. Foreclosures. They want to look at foreclosures because they've heard they're a "deal". (or are they?)
This sounds great, I think to myself. We'll look at the 10 homes that match their criteria. They'll pick one and we'll go happily to settlement in a month or two.
After the first outing, they've decided that maybe foreclosed homes aren't such a great deal. They're all trashed and/or gutted and/or have water damage. They've decided that the "plain vanilla" sales (where the Seller have some equity and doesn't need that pesky "third party approval") are just too plain. Now they want to expand the geographic ares (wait. what about the school?) and they even want to look at new construction (whoa. that's a change from foreclosures!), they want to look at a new price range, too. Hmmmm.
All this is OK. They're financially qualified and, hey, they can live where they want, right? It's just that it always amazes me that people start out with one idea of what they want and then completely change course. It's as if they never had that initial consultation about what they wanted and why.
If I were a cynical person, I might suspect that home buyers tell their Realtor consultants what they think we want to hear or, maybe, what they think their friends told them would be a good deal. Or, maybe, they just don't know themselves. That's possible and that's why we Realtors try to get our buyer clients to focus.
Sure, sometimes it's fun just to go out to look at different houses to see what's out there or to get decorating tips or maybe see what $400,000 gets you in the MD Suburbs of DC vs Bismark, ND. Most of the time, though, maybe even the vast majority of the time, it is the wiser path to know what you want and go after it (within your financial ability).
Knowing what you want goes a long way to actaully getting what you want.