Looking for the “perfect” home?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Olsen Ziegler Realty

Every so often an agent works with a buyer who is looking for the "perfect" home.  What this actually means varies from buyer to buyer.  When an agent asks a buyer to define the perfect home, they often describe a list of conflicting attributes.  For example:  I want a home with a lot of privacy AND I want to be in a close-in, convenient location from which I can walk to everything.  While these two desires are not impossible to achieve, it does make finding such a property next to impossible.

My experience, after working with several of these buyers over the years, includes the following scenarios which occur after the initial home search does not result in a purchase:

  • The buyer truly doesn't know what they want. While on the surface, the buyer may state exactly what they want in a home, the reality is quite different as they are either looking for something that the market does not provide, eg, the property does not exist, but are unwilling to modify their criteria, or they cannot objectively state required criteria that does not conflict and, as a result, invalidate all homes from consideration.
  • An issue exists which hasn't surfaced. The issue can be financial, emotional, or something that, if left unresolved, results in a buyer unable to purchase.  A good agent will ask a buyer a lot of open-ended questions which cannot be answered in one sentence or as yes or no.  When a buyer makes a statement, the agent should ask: "Why is that?" or "Tell me more, please." or "Really?" or "Please help me understand what you are saying."  It is amazing what can come out when you know how to ask the right questions.  In defense of agents, it is sometimes not as simple as asking these questions from the start -- sometimes this information is obtained as the searching process unfolds.
  • The buyer truly is not motivated to purchase.  A buyer needs to be "ready, willing and able" to purchase.  Ascertaining a buyer's true motivation gets to the heart of their desire to either "purchase" or just "look" at homes.  A savvy agent is able to read a buyer's true motivations by, again, asking open-ended questions, noting reactions when viewing homes, and continuing conversations throughout the process.

If the above doesn't resolve the issue of finding the perfect home for a buyer, I typically provide a buyer with three options:

  1. Modify search criteria. 
    Buyers need to understand that there is no such thing as a perfect home, and adjustments, give and take and compromise are not only a part of life, but in home searching as well.
  2. Choose one of the homes already seen. 
    This may sound harsh, but sometimes a buyer needs to be given an ultimatum.  This happens in business, personal relationships and professional service providers in all industries on a routine basis. 
  3. Take a break.
    While I have been known to show some buyers well over 125 homes as well as bend over backwards to help them, at some point a buyer may need to take a break and regroup.  If I determine that a buyer needs a break, I have a heart to heart conversation with them and we jointly decide how to proceed. My goal is to make sure a buyer ends up happy and satisfied, whether they ultimately purchase a home in 1 day, 1 week, 1 year, or not at all.

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Chris Ann Cleland
Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA - Bristow, VA
Associate Broker, Bristow, VA

Chris:  You are right on!  And sometimes, what the buyers are saying is in direct conflict with the reactions they have to something opposite what they say they want.  I had a buyer like that very recently.  She was very particular.  But after a trip or two out, I got to know her tastes, and it wasn't from what she was saying.  We have to pay very close attention to the nonverbal signals our buyers give us.  The time they spend in rooms, their silence and so on. 

Dec 21, 2008 01:06 PM #1
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Chris Olsen

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