Last month, my husband and I put our condo on the market (my first place... *tear*), and now that it is under contract we are looking for house #2. The process has made me do a lot of thinking, particularly about the stark differences in my personal real estate decision-making process and that of my clients.
I have a hunch that I can't be the only Realtor who has experienced this. Can you relate?
My Advice: Don't over-improve your home - you won't get your money back.
Client Behavior: They allow me to work with what they have through staging and professional photography to accentuate the positive and maximize their profit. Smart.
Personal Behavior: I could have ultimately gotten a higher price for my condo before putting in a new patio if I had listed it during the tax credit craze, but would have been embarrassed for my fellow brokers to see my outdoor living area looking less than perfect. So I waited until it was done (the patio and the tax credit), and absolutely won't get the money back. Makes no sense, but feels right.
My Advice: Tie up the house first, but be sure to load the contract up with inspection contingencies. And you should definitely test for radon, and mitigate if necessary - it's a known carcinogen.
Client Behavior: We always inspect, test, and on top of other inspection issues always ask for the full radon system, which often becomes a deal breaker between buyer and seller. To keep transactions from falling apart, I've contributed to the purchase of more of those systems than I care to admit.
Personal behavior: When I purchased my condo five years ago, I did a general building inspection, but never tested for radon or anything else. This time, if we buy an existing home, I plan to have a builder I trust look at the house before making an offer so that I have a general idea of the cost to bring the house up to my standards. Then we'll make the offer contingency-free to secure the best possible price.
My Advice: Take your time shopping for homes - after all, you'll probably be there for a long time. You'll know when you've found "the one."
Client Behavior: Some find "the one" right away and jump on it; others exhibit a real hesitation to make an offer even when a house meets all of their needs and wants. Lately, most buyers are falling into camp #2. Rates are low, but there's a feeling that they'll probably stay in the 4% range for a while and that prices may fall further.
My Behavior: Bid early and bid often! Worried about prices falling? Not really, as we've seen marginal increases locally... but if so, bid low. And for me, there's no such thing as "the" one - just a lot of options, each offering its own unique potential.
I could go on and on, but won't. Instead, I look forward to reading your comments and experiences. From conversations with other Realtors, I've been hearing that most of us are so comfortable with the buying and selling process that we're willing to take risks that we wouldn't (and shouldn't) advise our clients to take. We also may just have more risk tolerance in general - after all, we are working on 100% commission in a volatile economic environment. Some would call us crazy; I would just call us confident.