Caveat Emptor, but especially beware of Uncle Charlie

Real Estate Agent

Most people have heard the term caveat emptor, buyer beware.  But oftentimes, especially with first time home buyers there is a greater danger to their mental health, financial well being and decision making process.  That threats name is Uncle Charlie or Auntie Beatrice or big brother Mike, take your pick, but if you're a first time home buyer that overprotective older relative is going to be looking out for you and it might be in your best interest to take their advice with a grain of salt.  Don't get me wrong, I come from a loving family and I am an older brother.  But I'm also a realtor and if I were to make a decision about which house to pick I would trust my own instincts over that of my uncles, aunts, father or mother.  I eat sleep and breath this real estate stuff and I know what I'm doing.  And if I were to move to an area I'm unfamiliar with, I would hire a realtor there and trust the person I was working with.

There's a veritable gospel of bad real estate advice floating around out there. 

"Never offer full price.  They're asking 200, offer them 120." says Uncle Charlie.  Well what if the property is less than one week on market, it's priced 20k below market value and there are already 5 offers on it?  Are you getting burned if you offer what the seller is asking, or hold your breath for this one, even more than asking price? Of course not.  List price is just a guideline.  I've sold properties for 15-20% below list price and I've sold properties for above list price and I've never let a buyer get a raw deal either way.  What matters is the market value.  A good agent can provide you with a very accurate CMA so that you can review the comps and the market in your area and make an informed decision.

"Don't listen to your realtor, he or she's just in it to make a buck off you." Well, lets examine that statement.  Yes, I do want to be compensated for my time, effort and expertise at work.  It's how I support my family after all.  But I also work on a referral basis and if you are ultimately happy with the home you buy and the service I provide, then you will refer me to your friends, co-workers and family and then I will have a thriving business.  Furthermore, a buyer agent doesn't care which home they sell you, they just want to find you what you want.  So Uncle Charlie is half right on this one, yes I do want to earn a living but no I don't want to screw you.  If you feel like your realtor is trying to screw you, then either you're paranoid or you should use another realtor.  (my contact information is provided, by the way)

"Never buy a house right away, it takes months if not years to find what you're looking for."  Lets review this one.  With the advent of the statewide multiple listing service, every available listing is ready to be viewed and seen by the public.  If you have a good buyers agent, the first step in your transaction is sitting down with them in a professional setting, talking about what you want and need in a property, what you can afford or are willing to pay, where you want to live and then reviewing MLS for properties that meet this criteria.  Then if you take the time to drive by those properties and decide which of them you'd most like to see more of, you can arrange 5-8 showings with your agent and pick the best available property.  Why should that take years?  Don't get me wrong, it doesn't always work that smoothly.  Sometimes, you just don't find what you're looking for right away.  Depending on your situation, you might have needs that are excessively particular and thats fine too.  But going into the search with the preset idea that you're not going to pull the trigger is a recipe for frustration, wasted time and wasted gasoline. The only thing that will happen if you procrastinate is that the interest rates and the price of homes will go back up.  He who hesitates is lost.

Finally, to all the buyers out there, do your agent and more importantly yourself a favor.  When after, extensively reviewing the market where you want to live, you find the right home for you, don't bring Uncle Charlie through to trample all over your deal.  Yes, there's a crack in the foundation and the house has settled.  Yes, the downspout on that gutter is a little wobbly.  That's why you do a home inspection.  To seperate the 20 dollar fixes from the 2000 dollar fixes and to objectively protect your interests in a deal.  Uncle Charlie bought his home in 1972 for 32,000 and his eyes there is no such thing as a good deal in this market.  He's not impressed that you can buy a mint condition home in Cranston for 175k. 

Uncle Charlie loves you and he's got your back.  If you were ever broken down on the side of the road, he'd be the first one there to change your tire.  If you needed a short term loan, you'd call him and he'd come through.  He's a great guy and he's a hoot.  His pontification on the state of the economy and diatribes about overpaid sports stars make holidays fun.  But even though he means well, if you let him, he'll ruin your real estate transaction.  So before you even get started, figure out who is going to be in your inner circle when it comes time to pull the trigger and keep that circle as tight and small as possible.  Work with an agent you can trust and save yourself time, money and headaches.  Good luck homebuyers!!!

Comments (1)

John Pusa
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Crest - Glendale, CA
Your All Time Realtor With Exceptional Service

Matt - Thank you for the detailed quality information about Caveat Emptor. Excellent blog.

Jun 29, 2011 05:05 PM