How Not to Buy A House -- By Committee

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 Lic. #01871795

How Not to Buy A House -- By Committee

One of the common mistakes I see first time home buyers make is involving too many people in their decision making.  Well meaning family, friends, and co-workers can give advice that interferes with the home buying process.  I experienced the worst example of this with a couple who insisted on having their entire extended family and friends view homes with them. The first house I selected met all their criteria and more.  At the time, I had no idea that this home would have to please everyone in their social circle.  This particular home was unique because of its location, size, amenities and price.  Unfortunately, the "buying committee" all had differing points of view.

Some of the committee members felt that the home needed too much repair, others thought that the buyers needed to look at a lot more homes before deciding to buy any home, others felt this home was great but surely something better would appear, and still others wanted them to continue to hunt for the best “deal.”  Of course, it’s easy to shop and shop and shop for a home, when you have a home to go back to at the end of the day.  As such, the committee was essentially a pool of very unmotivated buyers.  And any real estate agent worth their salt knows that an unmotivated buyer, is a terrible decision maker.  

if you ask 10 different people, you are going to get 10 different answers.  Turning your home purchase into the equivalent of an “Act of Congress” is not really a great idea.  And, unless your local real estate market is moving at glacial speed, it will cost you.  The buyers clearly wanted this first home, however, pleasing the committee predictably proved to be an impossible task. I tried to point out the unique nature of the home, but I’m sure my advice sounded like the scream of a teenage girl at a Justin Bieber concert -- indiscernible.

The end result?  They missed out on a great house (which time proved was in fact a tremendous deal!), and we ended up looking for homes off and on for another two years.  Eventually the committee members tired of looking at houses with the buyers, after all, they couldn’t seem to make a decision.  I wonder why?  The buyers did eventually make a decision (without committee input), but later confided that they still drove by that first house that got away -- the one that died in committee.

Tni LeBlancis an independent Real Estate Broker, Attorney, and Short Sale Agent. She is a Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE), Short Sale and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) and Certified HAFA Specialist (CHS) serving California’s Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties.

She has successfully completed short sales with Bank of America, Wells Fargo, CHASE , GMAC, Seterus, IndyMac, CitiMortgage, Green Tree Servicing, Specialized Loan Servicing,  HomEq Servicing, Wachovia, Coast Hills Federal Credit Union, Select Portfolio Servicing,  and others.  

* Nothing in this article is intended to solicit listings currently under contract with another broker. This article offers no legal or tax advice. Those considering a short sale are advised to consult with their own attorney for legal advice, and their tax professional for tax advice prior to entering into a short sale listing agreement.

Copyright© 2013 Tni LeBlanc *How Not to Buy A House -- By Committee*

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Tni LeBlanc, Broker
(805) 878-9879 mobile/text
CalBRE #01871795


Re-Blogged 4 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Fred Griffin 01/06/2013 10:38 PM
  2. Frances Anderson 01/06/2013 01:37 PM
  3. Lanise Warrior-Johnson 01/06/2013 01:54 PM
  4. Kristen Wahl 01/08/2013 11:40 PM
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how not to buy a house by committee

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Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

Kathy -  I find that when the committee outnumbers the buyers five fold no decision is going to be made!  I understand respect must be shown, or if it is the person giving a gift for the down payment, but the approach will cost you.  Committees can't take advantage of a great deal when it pops up! 

Pat & Steve - Thank you!  Maybe there is a lot of uncertainty out there right now, maybe that is why we are seeing a resurgence of committee style buying?

Jan 07, 2013 03:48 AM #56
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA



What a great, sad story! I am so sorry for those buyers and for you, their agent, in regard to the first house – the perfect house – that the committee prevented them from buying.


Yes – THE PREVENTION COMMITTEE. That is what I would call those who will not live in the house but whose advice must be factored into the home buying decision. The Prevention Committee will surely prevent the buyer from getting the house that they should buy. What’s worse – the Prevention Committee will congratulate themselves for a job well done!

Jan 07, 2013 05:09 AM #57
Deb Espinoza
Stage Presence Homes, San Diego Real Estate - Ramona, CA
GRI, Broker, SRS,ABR ePro, SFR, CNE

Tni-  Thanks for the great story- Sad but true, and so frustrating when there's not much you can do with so many people giving input. You have great patience to have hung in there for two years !


Jan 07, 2013 09:14 AM #58
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Tni -  I hear you so well.. I kid you not but last year I had a client - we received a bid and then entertained the parents, 2 sets of, the uncle, the brother in law, the contractor..... and they never came  up in price.


Jan 07, 2013 09:54 AM #59
Jeanne Kozak
RE/MAX In Action - Martinsburg, WV
REALTOR and Broker/Owner in WV and VA

Oh yes, I am sure we have all had the well meaning father that wants to protect his little girl from ever making a mistake, or the paranoid mother that really does not want her kids to move out of her house, so nothing is good enough.

Jan 07, 2013 11:34 AM #60
Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

Hi John - I like that - the prevention committee!  Many times that is what it comes down too, and sadly sometimes even the committee is unaware of their influence.  I felt bad for these buyers, but next time they buy they will know better!

Thanks Debbie - They did eventually buy.  Very nice folks.  Common mistake taken to the extreme I think.  It was also unfortunate that the first house we saw was so great.

Hi Gay! Wow That's a lot of people buying that house.  LOL.  Relatives always want you to get a better deal than they felt they got when they bought.  Sometimes they are living their dreams through (or at the expense of) others.

Jeanne - LOL.  I'm sure some committee member have their own agendas too.  I think I've had the one where the parents didn't want the kid to move out of the house, and I've had the opposite too.  LOL.

Jan 07, 2013 02:53 PM #61
Mona Gersky
MoonDancer Realty, Dillsboro,NC - Sylva, NC
GRI,IMSD-Taking the mystery out of real estate.

Well deserved feature and oh so true.  The worst words possible is "I love this house but I'd like my brother father uncle grandfather who once hammered a nail to come look at it."  Stick a fork in it then, the deal is done.

Jan 07, 2013 09:08 PM #62
Carolyn Kolba
Serving Mentor, and all of Lake County, Ohio - Mentor, OH
Keller Williams Realty- Mentor, Ohio

Tni:  In some areas of the country, like the Cleveland market that I work in, I can understand how purchasing a home can become a "family affair."  But throw a boatload of friends and acquaintances into the mix... ouch.  That's a very quick way to turn the whole thing into a three-ring circus.

While in many areas of the country, families are so spread out that things like you describe don't happen, Cleveland is still a town where even extended families live in decent proximity (which can be good, but also not-so-good at times)... so when a buyer gets close to finding "the" house... everyone has to put in their two-cents and take a look, and give their approval.  As they say, it comes with the territory, or in this case, it comes with the market.

Jan 08, 2013 02:03 AM #63
Bryan Robertson
Intero Real Estate - Los Altos, CA
Broker, Author, Speaker

I've had to deal with committees on several occassions and had some luck with keeping them from killing a deal.  One client kept backing out of deals because friends would bring up issues and doubts that were false or just plan poorly informed.  When possible, I let the buyer know that opinions run a wide range and that they should focus on what feels right for them rather than their friends.

Jan 08, 2013 04:34 AM #64
Wayne Johnson
Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS® - San Antonio, TX
San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale

Tni-Committee's are great ways to delay decisions and strangle good ideas. Terrible for getting good real estate results.

Jan 08, 2013 06:50 AM #65
Tanya Van Blake-Coleman
Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/ - St Thomas, VI
Improving the Quality of Your Life

Tni, I have not had any success with buyer with committees.  I have worked with them for years and they still can't make a decision.  It is the most frustrating thing, especially when you can see they are getting bad advice. Which often happens.

Jan 08, 2013 08:20 AM #66
Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.
Mint Properties, Lic. #01871795 - Santa Maria, CA
Tenacious Tni (805) 878-9879

Thanks Mona -- LOL.   Many times that is true!

Carolyn - It can be a tough call on whether to invite so many family members.  I usually tell people, if they must, just invite one person that you trust.  A entire committee will definitely bog things down.   

Bryan - That's good advice indeed.

Wayne - So true.  Waiting for the committee to decide really puts you at a disadvantage when buying a home.

Tanya - I know all you can do is stand back and watch as the trusted advisers kill the buyer's chance of owning a home.

Jan 08, 2013 03:35 PM #67
Kristen Wahl
Re/Max Plus - Rochester, NY

Great post, Tni! I've also had buyers pass up on a great home because of the opinions of a friend or family member. If it's going to be their home, they need to be the one making the decision. Thanks for sharing your experience!

Jan 08, 2013 11:41 PM #68
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

Yikes there are way to many decision makers to have a selection. Next.

Jan 08, 2013 11:48 PM #69
Ruthmarie Hicks
Keller Williams NY Realty - 120 Bloomingdale Road #101, White Plains NY 10605 - White Plains, NY

When I was new, I had one couple who had two sets of parents to please.  Apparently, the parents didn't get along because anytime they found something they liked, each set of parents would have to come in SEPERATELY and view the home.  Someone - (but mostly one parent) would KILL the deal every single time.  Meanwhile, I had had three showings for no less than seven homes.  Each deal was killed.  My broker was smart and put a stop to the nonsense - told the family in question that they got 2 showings and ALL decision makers had to be present at ALL showings.  Of course the couple never bought anything.  They disappeared when the new rules were put in place.  I've had situations where parents were helpful as well. Everything is case by case.  However, if people are arguing and talking down a property, it is very difficult to get a sale.  If it starts to become a serial property-bashing party at every showing, I set limits. If that doesn't work - I let them go. 

Jan 09, 2013 12:45 AM #70
Evelyn Kennedy
Alain Pinel Realtors - Alameda, CA
Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA


It is impossible to reach agreement with the input of too many people.  The buyers should be counseled to view homes on their own without the committee.  The committee can see the house when the sale is completed but not before.  

Jan 09, 2013 01:12 AM #71
Cynthia Larsen
Safe Haven Realty - Cotati, CA
Independent Broker Serving Sonoma County, CA

Ouch - too many cooks spoil the pot, don't they? What a shame, they should have cleaned house before buying one.

Jan 09, 2013 02:30 AM #72
Lula Flowers

What, if any is the liability of the Realtor if the committee breaks something? Should the present this breakage as a possibility to the seller when getting seller's permission for the committee

Jan 09, 2013 04:47 AM #73
Peter Preston-Thomas
Real Ottawa - Kanata, ON

Tni - Your anecdotal story is valuable amunition for dealing with buyer committees.  That said, it is a buyer's right to buy by committee.  And it is your right to choose your clients.  Use your own ammuntion to turn those current buyers with committees into successful past buyer clients (and future clients, and referral sources.)

Jan 09, 2013 10:30 AM #74
Melissa Brown
Helen Adams Realty - Charlotte, NC
Realtor - South Charlotte NC Homes for Sale

Nobody needs the just leads to negative second guessing.  Wow, I really hate it!

Jan 11, 2013 08:52 AM #75
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Tni LeBlanc, Realtor®, J.D.

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