My wife and I bought our first home in 1993. It was a different time for us, and we were both in modestly paying jobs (though by today's standards, in retrospect, we may have been doing fairly well). I was at such a low rung on the latter at the title company, the position doesn't even exist today. But I still remember some of the events during our quest to become former renters that have shaped my opinions about real estate agents. So, from a buyer's perspective, I thought I'd share a few thoughts, both positive and negative, that have remained in my memory.
Without the means to purchase in Chicago, we thought the immediate suburbs would be a good place to start. We were young enough, and free enough, that the city still had an attraction - and most of our friends were still there. We looked at a frame house with a fire place and a spacious yard. The place needed work, I'll admit. My parents walked through it with us and begged us to run, not walk, away from it. We went as far as to hire a home inspector, who placed a marble on the floor and it rolled rapidly to the wall. We were idiots, blind to the realities of that house.
The Bad Agent
The home inspector also explained to us that the foundation was unstable and that the home had serious issues. That was the moment our dreams for the home began to fade. We brought the concerns of the home inspector to the selling agent. You know what he said? "Foundation Shmoundation!" He actually said that. The guy actually tried to convince us that the foundation mattered little for the great price.
The selling agent, obviously sensing that he had not convinced us with the "foundation shmoundation" bit of brilliance, then layed down the ace in his sleave. It seems some developers were offering some pretty good money for the place so they could demolish it and build townhomes. Not being developers ourselves, we decided that we would not demolish the place and build townhomes ourselves - but the developers were welcome to do so without our competing bid.
The Good Agent
We were later referred to an agent about an hour out of the city, who met with us and listened to us. She asked about our finances and, more importantly, what mattered to us most in buying a home. She only brought us to homes that fit the description of what we wanted. She did not waste our time. And, above all, she did not try to push anything on us. She kept comments to a helpful minimum. We bought a home within weeks well outside of the city that we had hoped to remain near. But she let us make that decision. We are still in the same boony area to this day.
We recommended her to two of our friends, both of whom bought homes in the same area as we did, and they were both homes that she facilitated.
The Clueless Agent
As an aside, it is interesting to note that the first agent we had contacted to assist us in finding a home never gave up. After living in our new home for over two years, she called us up - at the home we had long since purchased - to inform us that she had finally found us a place in the city we could afford. "It's a real dump", she said, "but it's within your price range." Gee, lady, ya think a person's financial situation can change over the period of a couple of years?
This is not meant as an instructional blog for real estate agents. I know that all of you Rainers are pros and you know how to treat a buyer. Rather, I wanted to use the opportunity of my first blog post ever to share with you my experience as a first-time home buyer. It was an experience that I'm not likely to forget any time soon.