Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.
Real estate agents know buying a home can be challenging. We want to help you through it and get you the best deal. But sometimes buyers can unwittingly turn the process into an ordeal.
Here are five things buyers do that create stress and complications for their agents, the sellers and often, for themselves.
1. The buyer requests additional showings, brings an entourage, spends hours looking over the place — and never makes an offer.
It’s typical for a potential buyer to view a property during an open house, then ask for a private showing, even two or three times. That’s great; I’m all for it. However, it’s frustrating and counterproductive when the would-be buyer arrives at the showing with a designer or contractor and spends one or two hours measuring virtually every inch of the place. In other words, it’s putting the cart before the horse.
I’ve even seen a buyer bring his psychic to a showing who, after making a big splash with her tarot cards and numerology chart, declared that the property had “negative energy” and wasn’t a good fit, mainly based on the numbers in the property address. Did she need to see the property in person?
Real estate is a huge investment, and I’m all for getting the opinions of trusted advisers. But buyers should give themselves the opportunity to gauge their own reactions to a property before bringing in hired consultants. Also, be aware there will be multiple opportunities to thoroughly explore a property before signing a contract. To go over a home inch-by-inch on the first or second visit is often a waste of everyone’s time — including the buyers.
2. The buyer makes unjustified low-ball offers.
The seller’s property is on the market for $400,000. And yet, a potential buyer offers $300,000. It’s not because the home is grossly overpriced or there’s something seriously wrong with it but simply because the buyer wants a bargain.
Unjustified low-ball offers are often a waste of time for everyone involved. The seller isn’t going to swallow $100,000 for no reason, even if the property has been on the market for a while. In fact, the buyer’s low-ball offer will help the listing agent get a small price reduction, thus opening the window of opportunity to another buyer. It’s certainly okay to offer less than asking, but be realistic and respectful.
3. The buyer plans to negotiate the price down during escrow, but doesn’t tell the agent.
Final home inspections sometimes uncover problems previously unknown. In such situations, it makes sense for the buyer to request a credit from the seller during escrow.
However, there are times when a buyer writes an offer, which the seller is open to accepting, but secretly plans to ask for a reduction during escrow just because he thinks he can. Doing so adds stress and ill will among all parties involved, during what already could be a difficult transaction.
4. The buyer makes big demands on the agent’s time but is a long way from being serious.
There are people just beginning to think about buying a home. That’s fine, you have to start somewhere. Unfortunately, in some cases these people are a year or two away from becoming serious buyers. And yet they make a lot of demands on the agent’s time. I once had someone make me research city building permits on a house, just because they were curious. The property didn’t even fit their requirements.
There’s a lot of legwork that buyers can do themselves. If a buyer is seriously considering a property, he should absolutely be checking tax records, police crime maps, neighborhood data, home values and even the property’s building permit history.
Agents can’t be as effective in our jobs if we’re spending lots of time researching tax records or city permits for clients who are years away from being serious. Plus, these types of buyers can end up earning a reputation as “bad clients” — the type that the most good agents avoid.
5. Buyers who keep changing their minds about what they want.
It’s OK to shift course based on what the buyer learns during the process. This is common practice. But, once you’re ready to buy, you should have a clear picture of what you want. Much time and effort gets wasted when a buyer doesn’t really know what he wants and starts looking for a high-rise condo in the city, switches to looking at houses in the suburbs, then it’s back to the city condos, then maybe it’s on to houses in a different city.
Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor and real estate expert based in San Francisco. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog and collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets.