Very Nice People...Terrible Buyers

By
Real Estate Agent with Village Real Estate Services #271029

I've come across many types of buyers in my 15 years as an agent but these buyers are wearing me down; what's worse is that these are very lovely and loyal people.  

I sold this family a home two years ago.  They were relocating to Nashville and had to purchase a home by a specific time.  They spent an average of 40 minutes at each property.  After 30+ showings, they made their decision and bought a home at retail price.
 
Last summer they decided they needed a larger home on a larger lot.  They're pre-approved to buy without selling. They will list their current home with me after they move.  This said, they have no deadline and all the time in the world...but I don't and it's taken MUCH longer than I could have ever seen coming.
 
I have other clients!  Still, every week or two they find a home or two online they'd like to view including homes that are under contract, FSBOs and auctions that I have to look up and respond to.  I've suggested seeing a few at once (as is the norm) to save time and we have a couple of times but now they've seen them all and we're down to new or reduced listings...one at a time.  I have a standing search set up for them but I hesitate to send any more listings; I'm afraid to add to the information overload.  They do daily online searches and upcoming (possible) foreclosure research which must be exhausting for them!  The homes may be a 15 to 40 minute drive for me.  They spend an average of an hour (larger homes than last time) examining the property, looking under carpet, taking tens of photos and I'm not sure what else other than that they go through each room a number of times and walk the lot. They've viewed a few homes twice, spending a second hour.  I'm always thinking they're ready to make an offer but...they don't.  I've thought that they were about to move on a few that they had me research history, do CMAs, collect disclosures and ask questions (what's that hose for?).  Each time I think they're ready to make an offer...they email me other properties to look into! 
 
They've passed on homes because of stucco, sloped lots and other issues that are imminent without entering.  They still spend an hour inside and I realize that it's because they're afraid that there may be something so amazingly spectacular inside that the exterior issue won't matter. They made an offer on one foreclosure a few months ago but lost the bid.  We found a PERFECT one on Sunday...a recently reduced foreclosure in a high end neighborhood.  On Monday morning the L.A. responded that there were multiple offers and the seller had already selected one (over list price).  The buyer had sent me an email after I did all the research Sunday night (proving that the house was a great deal), instructing me to write an offer at $30,000 below list price because it was a foreclosure. (I've addressed/handled that part with the outcome as proof).
 
In an effort to move things along (we've been looking since June when I picked up fleas from one property which prospered and multiplied on my cat and in my home for 3 months), I've explained about the multiple offer situations I've been experiencing with buyers and sellers and that they shouldn't wait much longer to make a decision. There was a slow couple of months but It just turned out that I've spent an enormous amount of time and money driving, researching, answering questions and finding links to train schedules, noise ordinances and what-not.  At what point do you dismiss a client who has become a regular part of your life and who you actually like?  Perhaps when it occurs to you that you may be losing new business.  If each showing takes 2-3 hours in the car, alone.  Multiply that by the number of homes and add up time for all the emails and phone calls.
 
It seems the time to bring on a newer agent who needs showing experience.  But I keep thinking that, after all of the time I've invested... they'll like the next one...1/10/14 update: These people never bought a house, were given a place to live by his employer and then listed their home with another agent!  All of the hours, gas and time I gave them and I didn't make one dime.  Thanks Friends!
 
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Rainmaker
656,967
Joetta Fort
The DiGiorgio Group - Arvada, CO
Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder

It's hard NOT to think, 'maybe the next one ...'.  And the other thing my head tells me in these situations is, "SOMEONE is going to get that commission, I want it to be me!"  I know a lot of agents will come on here and tell you it's time to fire them.  But I've never 'fired' a client, and I'm always glad when I'm depositing the commission check. 

May 01, 2013 08:43 AM #1
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Joetta, I once fired a friend who insisted on working with me but refused to let me educate her nor would she listen to my professional advice.  She was all over the place.  I chose the friendship and referred her and I told her that I thought the homes she was making offers on needed too much work and I cared too much to help her get in over her head. 

Part of me wants to complete what I started and part of me feels that it's going to end up costing me, even after they close on something.  Sometimes you need to cut your losses.  Choosing to do so and when is what's hard.

May 01, 2013 09:13 AM #2
Rainmaker
241,327
Bette Gottwald
UNITED REAL ESTATE | Central PA - Mechanicsburg, PA
"Bet"on Central PA Real Estate!

Alyse, why not enlist the help of a rookie agent, as a referral, to assist with the showings, but still stay involved, let's say from the contract stage up to closing. 

 

May 01, 2013 01:51 PM #3
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Hi Bette, I thought of this in my last sentence and I'm about ready to do it.  Sometimes you feel like you're almost there, ya know?

May 02, 2013 12:53 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,114,136
John G. Johnston
John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC - Westcliffe, CO
An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO

Aly  Tough call and I see this blog is fairly old.  Is there an update with a happy ending?  I know agents that have instructed clients after so much alloted time the require a retainer fee.  You might suggest he/she gets a RE license!  It comes across looking at RE has become a hobby and you are the tour guide.  Good luck and enjoy your day

KEEP BLOGGING!

Dec 30, 2013 08:31 AM #5
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Hey John.  I met them for lunch and tried to figure out why they couldn't decide. They never explained why they would pass on properties that they had me research (I have a folder of 5 properties that I did CMAs on and made calls to get many questions answered; offers were made on at least 2 of them.  

It turned out that he was more concerned with the lot and she was most concerned with the interior layout.  They just couldn't agree with each other.  They wanted the perfect combination of their different desires for below market value.  I showed one or two more and then I told them that they really needed to come to an agreement or combine their wants/needs before resuming.  I got an email asking if they would still have to pay me if they didn't buy a home and I said they did not.

A few months later I was looking in the MLS and they had just listed their home with an agent I knew.  I didn't mention before that the buyer teaches at a special school, doesn't drive and I picked him up every time to meet the rest of the family.  I emailed the agent.  He told me that the buyer had gotten a promotion to head master and the school gave the family a house to live in on the school grounds.  They responded to a postcard mailing and they had him list their home.  I could NOT believe all the work these people let me do and all the gas and time I spent on them.  I should send them a copy of this blog.  

Dec 30, 2013 09:01 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,114,136
John G. Johnston
John G. Johnston & Associates, LLC - Westcliffe, CO
An Exclusive Buyer's Agent ~ Westcliffe, CO

Aly  We have all experienced this situation and it sucks!  Their email was probably a hint as to things to come.  We can only suck it up and move on...and be polite to the uneducated.  I try hard to educate my buyers but it happens to all of us.  Enjoy you day...and keep blogging.

Dec 30, 2013 09:24 AM #7
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Thanks John.  I wish the "hint" had come a year earlier.  I was always sweet to them and I will remain sweet to all.  By the way, I did have a new agent show them one time.  I was just floored to see that they hired and paid another agent to sell their home while I donated at least a hundred hours and a few tanks of gas.  The only possible thing I could have done in retrospect was to collect a retainer fee from them up-front but who could have ever predicted this.  

HOWEVER, 2013 was still my best year thanks to the good clients who did NOT take advantage of my good nature.  I love the clients who respect my time and expertise and it will never change.  Thanks for your attention, John!

Dec 30, 2013 09:51 AM #8
Ambassador
639,533
Larry Lawfer
YourStories Realty Group powered by Castles Unlimited® - Newton, MA
"I listen for a living." It's all about you.

CDE, Core Driving Emotion is what I look for. To me it sounds as if they love the process and it is their fun.  It is our work.  I am not sure how you turn this around.  Personally I rarely go to a home the first time with any of my Buyers.  Since the internet can deliver so much information and Open Houses are plentiful I suggest they do the preliminary work and allow me to come in and help them with the price and negotiations. It is quite possible they enjoy spending time with you. I wonder if you can get other referrals from them. Not all clients take this long, you know.

Jan 07, 2014 06:18 AM #9
Rainmaker
516,438
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

OH man...These people have kinfolks here in Austin Texas and I am working with them ;-O

Seriously, I like it when folks take a little time to check out a home but then it can get ridiculous. After previewing, they then begin to pick apart the home for all manner of reasons. I actually told them that we should stop because they were just unable to make decision to actually BUY a home. No really. Anyway, like you I always think that  the "next one" is just around the corner. I am either very stubborn or just stupid...

Jan 09, 2014 08:38 PM #10
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Well, Russell, I was torn and I let them run me because I'd also get their listing...but did you where I posted above that they didn't buy a house AND listed/sold...with another agent?  I wish I could send a bill.

Jan 10, 2014 03:24 AM #11
Rainmaker
516,438
Russell Lewis
Realty Austin, Austin Texas Real Estate - Austin, TX
Broker,CLHMS,GRI

Aly, Dang...I just read that. What a despicible...no really, people who use and waste other peoples time are just unbelieveably ___________ (fill in he blank)

Jan 10, 2014 07:15 AM #12
Rainmaker
82,361
Alyse "Aly" Sands
Village Real Estate Services - Nashville, TN

Insensitive?  Inconsiderate?  Mean?  Ignorant? Russell, in retrospect, I should have quit a long time before but I went against my gut instinct which I'm not going to do again. I had a buyer agreement but they didn't buy and we discussed the listing on more than one occasion. This one was the doozy of my career.  I've been dissed by buyers before, leading to my policy of always getting a buyer's agreement but this time things went awry.  Every time I pass his place of employment which is on my way to many places, it reminds me of this couple.  While last year was a great year, I can only think of how much better it could have been had I spent that hundred hours on people who were truly as loyal to me as I was to them (or on myself).  Guess my honesty with them turned them off.  Lesson learned. 

Mar 10, 2014 03:41 AM #13
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