Being your own buyer; a traumatic experience...............

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Shoreline New Hampshire & Maine

So for the past few months my wife and I have been looking for a new home for ourselves.

We feel like it's time to make the move to one level living and stop lugging groceries, laundry, and ourselves from downstairs to upstairs each time we come into our garage.

OK, no big deal, I think, I'm a trained professional with years of experience finding hundreds of great homes for other buyers. How much trouble could it be to find one for my little bride and I.

Well after finding two "perfect homes" and being unable to buy either of them, I'm thinking this may be a little bit harder than I thought.

First we find this great home in the north part of town, a little bit further north than we really wanted to be but I was willing to go a few extra miles to work so I start doing some research prior to making an offer. This home has been on the market since October of 2006 and I find out it's a corporate transfer so they're ready to look at an offer and get moving I think.

Wrong! After making an initial offer which was rejected out of hand, I find out one of the partners is a school teacher and she won't be moving until school is out in mid-June.

OK, no problem, we have a house right now and we don't have to sell it in order to buy that one so I talk to the listing agent about be very, very flexible on the closing date. We can close right now and they can rent it back from us until June or we can wait until June to close; their choice, let's just make a deal.

No problem says the seller but we're not taking any less than full list price they reply. No sale for me, I like the house but not enough to pay a premium for it, so we move on.

Three days ago another "perfect house" comes on the market. One level, cul-de-sac, big yard, screened porch, nice condition, and in a great location across the street from our major lake! I call up the wife and we go look at it. My wife and I walk though saying things like "this is nice, I like this, I like that" etc., classic buying signals so we go back to my office and write up an offer. I should have got a clue when the listing company said they had 3 showings scheduled after our at 5:00 PM but I write up an offer for a few thousand less than list price anyway.

Listing agent calls and says "dang it Jim, they've had 8 showings on the house today and already have 5 more scheduled tomorrow so they're just going to sit on your offer and see if another one might come in."

Oops, I'm thinking, we better buy that house or we're gonna lose out again so I call my little bride to rush down to my office and we write up another offer for full price with a quick closing. I fax it to listing agent.

She calls back later and says well, the seller wants to change the inspection by 3 days, time to respond to inspection by ONE DAY, provide a home warranty from a different company even though it costs them more money, AND stay in the house "a few days after closing" so they can finish packing, AND they're still going to sit on your offer until tomorrow.

All of a sudden I'm getting a bad feeling about this deal too. I call up the wife and share my concerns with her. She says "make them do something". I say what should I do, take my shotgun down there and make them sign our offer? She calms down and I get back to work to earn some money to pay for our new house.

Listing agent calls and says well, we have another offer, I'm going over tonight and discuss with sellers.

I say fine, I'm not paying over list, you have a full price offer, no conditions except home inspection, and a pre-approvel letter from a local lender; we can close and do this deal with no problems.

This morning I get a call from listing agent; Jim, your offer has been rejected, they sold it to the other offer.

At this point I don't care so I say thanks, and hang up.

So this afternoon it's back on the hunt; we find another house we like in a lower price range than we've been looking but it's very nice with a screened prorch, board fenced back yard, nice kitchen, split bedrooms, etc.,etc.

Also in the same neighborhood there's still another house with a 3 car garage, magnificent view of the Smoky Mountains, screened gazebo overlooking a wooded hillside, 2 story but master bedroom on the main level, etc.,etc., etc.

Tomorrow we're looking at these 2 and a couple more; there's tons of houses for sale here.

However I'm thinking of getting another agent to help me; I'm not doing too hot being my own buyer. ;-)

Although I've bought lots of houses as an investor over the years it's vastly different buying one you intend to live in yourself. I found emotions creeping into the deal, I was trying to please my wife, I was also trying to make me happy with our new home purchase, and I was trying to negotiate the best deal on the best house. I wonder if it's possible to do all three successfully???

We did look at a couple of FSBOs. I'll tell you something guys, your attitude changes drastically when you look at a FSBO as a buyer; it was fun.

Every mortgage banker and real estate licensee in America should be required to buy a home for themselves a minimum of every 5 years or less. It would make you a much better professional and better qualified to serve your clients.

Posted by

Jim Lee , REALTOR®, Certified Residential Specialist (CRS)  RE/MAX Shoreline

100 Market St., Suite #200, , Portsmouth, NH 03801 Phone: (603) 431-1111 x3801

Visit New Hampshire Maine Real to search homes, get Seacoast area information, and find out how great living on the New Hampshire and southern Maine Seacoast really is.


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Kristal Kraft
The Berkshire Group Realtors - Denver, CO
Selling Metro Denver Real Estate - 303-589-2022

Jim ~ I can identify with your story.  We moved last year and what a fiasco.  I let one of our agents "list" my old house, but when she started "getting in the way of a deal, I fired her."  We got the deal put together but I was the worst seller I've ever had!! 

In the end, the whole experience made me more sensitive to my clients needs.  Everything matters!


Jan 27, 2007 05:15 PM #15
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA
We step in and write the offer for our agents.  We hand it back to them when it is signed around and step in again at time of home inspection.  Hate to say it...but they tend to be our worst clients :)
Jan 27, 2007 05:15 PM #16
Brian Brady
San Diego VA Home Loans/858-777-9751 - San Diego, CA


One of my biggest mistakes was doing my own loan.  I woefully underqualified myself and overanalyzed the whole thing.  If I had one of my super originator buddies treat me like a client, I would have bought a bigger home and stuck with a neg-am mortgage.  I bought two houses since then and have never made that mistake again. 

Jan 27, 2007 06:09 PM #17
Jennifer Fivelsdal
JFIVE Home Realty LLC | 845-758-6842|162 Deer Run Rd Red Hook NY 12571 - Rhinebeck, NY
Mid Hudson Valley real estate connection
Enjoyed your story.  The fact is lots of realtor don't even own their own home.  I think I am incline to use another realtor with my own purchase.
Jan 27, 2007 10:08 PM #18
Gena Riede
Riede Real Estate, Lic. 01310792 - Sacramento, CA
Real Estate Broker - Sacramento CA Real Estate (916) 417-2699
Jim, I must say, I don't envy you. It's very hard to do your own deal...those emotions definitely get in the way. Can't believe the inspection period and response especially in this sounds like your market has picked up and not a buyer's market. I wish you the best and hope you find that perfect ranch in a great area. 
Jan 28, 2007 01:10 AM #19
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi again,

One more issue on being your own buyer and or seller.  Some (yet not all) E&O insurance companies will not insure transactions where an agents acts as the agent and the buyer or seller.  I've become the listing agent at times (like a few of you out there) for my agents on their own transactions within our office.  That includes all of the inspections, disclosures, etc., we take it seriously.  Most lost mitigation classes will tell you that most of claims/lawsuits  (they say 85%) are from buyers against sellers as a result of property defects.

Therefore it's important to check with your broker to determine insurability if you're acting as a principal and an agent.

Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner

Jan 28, 2007 03:04 AM #20
Jim Lee
RE/MAX Shoreline - Portsmouth, NH
Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH

Lynda, I know our E & O does not cover us for doing our own transactions. However since most claims are buyer against seller and I'm the buyer, I feel the odds are on my side this time.

I've also bought and sold lots of investment properties. I gets lots of pieces of paper signed by both buyers and sellers of these properties saying they are aware I am a licensed real estate broker and that I am buying or selling these properties for my own account and for my own profit or loss.

We're going to try this one more time and if we can't buy something this time I may be interviewing for an agent if anyone is interested. ;-)

You're right Elaine, my wife is now thinking she might need a better agent, hopefully just for the homebuying process. ;-)

Jan 28, 2007 03:53 AM #21
Bonnie Erickson
Tangletown Realty - Saint Paul, MN
Having done the very same thing two years ago, I feel your pain. The same goes for listing your own house.  My husband wanted to fire me because I disclosed everything!  He thought I was over doing it, but what he didn't realize is whether I represented us or someone else did, I still had to disclose everything!  It was also funny when he let a couple tour the house by themselves.  He sat in the chair on the front porch!  I had heart failure and did a quick inventory of all valuables.  It just isn't the same process when you represent yourself even when you are a very good professional!
Jan 28, 2007 06:10 AM #23
Michele Connors
The Overton Group, LLC Pitt & Carteret County - Greenville, NC
Your Eastern North Carolina Realtor

Jim- I feel your pain. I think the real problem is that it still is a buyers market- you are allowed to pick and choose and frankly seem to be getting more options than a typical market allows.You are feeling what all the other buyers out there are feeling....a sense of "I can move on from this -there are more out there." Two sided sword I guess. One it makes the buyer (you) expect a decent deal and two, takes the urgency out of moving. So, I am betting the perfect home will come along- probably when least expecting it..but- since you dont have to sell to move- you and your bride are in a wonderful situation. Dont sweat it! You have a great Realtor working for you!

If only all the other million buyers would make up their mind and buy! I am expecting 2007 to be great!

Jan 28, 2007 06:51 AM #24
Lauren Corna
Archway Realty, LLC - Southlake, TX
Jim-  Great Post !!  I'm selling one of my houses...Not a FSBO.  It's listed through my company...I'm even offering a bonus to the Selling Agent.
Jan 28, 2007 06:58 AM #25
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Sound advice, Jim. Great experience, leading to a better understanding of what buyers go through and how to empathize with them. Sometimes we are our own worst enemy.

So what's next? New agent?

Jan 28, 2007 11:23 AM #26
Leigh Brown
Leigh Brown & Associates, RE/MAX Executive - Charlotte, NC
CEO, Dream Maker - Charlotte, NC
I want your wife to figure out the way to MAKE sellers respond-that's one of my pet peeves, people who sit on offers waiting on something else....if she can crack that nut, you can retire tomorrow!
Jan 28, 2007 12:55 PM #27
Jay McGillicuddy
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Verani Realty - Exeter, NH
Real Estate Broker

I can see Monika and I disagree on this. I think you can do it on your own and just hang in there and the right house and terms will come along. Think positive and it will happen. Those other homes were just not for you. I hate it when buyers say, "if it was meant to be it will be." Funny thing is I do believe that, I just hate to hear it.

Best of Luck Jim  

Jan 28, 2007 01:05 PM #28
Jeff Belonger
Social Media - Infinity Home Mortgage Company, Inc - Cherry Hill, NJ
The FHA Expert - FHA Loans - FHA mortgages - USDA loans - VA Loans
Jim....   I agree with Leigh's comment...   And Sharron mentioned that we should buy every 5 years?  That could get expensive though......  think about it....  anyhoo....  good luck with the house hunting and thanks for sharing this story.
Jan 28, 2007 03:08 PM #29
Tori Stamps
Stamps Realty - Franklin, TN
MA JD - Broker/Owner Franklin TN Homes for Sale

I totally understand!  We are in the process of selling one of our houses.  I hired another Realtor to handle the deal.  It's only 30 minutes away, but I wanted someone from that little neighborhood to take care of everything.  It's been so much easier than trying to do it myself!  Well worth the $$.


Jan 29, 2007 12:24 AM #30
Tyler Wedel
I know what you mean Jim, I sold listed and sold my own house and when I went to show it I think I did what all sellers do when we are there, I tried to sell it to hard. As far the agent goes give me a call. ; ) 
Jan 29, 2007 12:43 AM #31
Donna Harris
Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - - Austin, TX
Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator

Great post!

When my husband (then fiancee) were looking for houses, it took us (HIM) 7 months to finally realize that if we were going to buy a house, we (HE) had to stop playing games on the offering prices.  We submitted at least 10 offers in that 7 months, and apparently none were worth countering their counter offers.  When we finally found "the" house, it took 3 weeks to execute the offer as it turns out the sellers didn't actually want to sell.  Once we closed, the sellers wouldn't get out of our house.  It was too stressful so they took off to Maui for 3 weeks...  We closed in July and finally got possession in mid- September.  They took the toilet roll holders, the shower curtain rods, the stoppers for the bath tubs, took a utility knife to several places on the wall paper, loosened the garbage disposal so it exploded the first time we turned it on...  many other things...

I can't imagine going through this every 5 years!!  Plus, the house I bought previous to this one, the seller just past the Bar and was trying to say he was a Real estate attorney, so you can imagine how that one went... not so smooth either...

Jan 29, 2007 02:54 AM #32
Trevella Williams
Aloha Coast Realty, LLC - Hilo, HI
Realtor, Salesperson, ABR SFR

Oh, Lordy does this ever hit home! I am 2 weeks into a 3 week escrow on my new home, I haven't done this for ten years! 

The weirdest thing is I keep getting my escrows confused, I have never had this problem before? My husband says its because our personal escrow is ALWAYS on my mind.

Its also challenging to keep hubby in the loop...which isn't fair at all, he has to keep calling and asking me questions, I had better be a better buyers agent to my clients than I am to myself!

I thought I was empathetic to my clients before...I have plenty sympathy now!


Jan 29, 2007 07:08 AM #33
Tim Maitski
Atlanta Communities Real Estate Brokerage - Atlanta, GA
Truth, Excellence and a Good Deal
My wife and I are really picky and when we bought 5 years ago, we had been looking over the course of three years.  I would have hated to be the agent for us.  I'm glad most of my clients don't take as long but it does remind me to be patient when people are hesitant to make a decision.  I'm always willing to show them as many homes as they want because I can really relate to trying to find a home with just about everything that you want.
Jan 29, 2007 01:16 PM #34
ARDELL DellaLoggia
Better Properties Seattle - Kirkland, WA
It' s going to be hard to pick who your agent is going to be.  Will you take a referral fee :)
Jan 29, 2007 05:38 PM #35
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Jim Lee

Portsmouth NH Realtor, Portsmouth, NH
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