Why You Should Never Buy the First Home You See

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Often I’ll receive a call from a prospective client who was just at an open house. During our conversation, I’ll discover that they’ve fallen in love with the property, and it’s the first open house they’ve visited. Now — based on a friend’s recommendation — they want to engage me as their real estate agent and they’re hoping I’ll help them write an offer on this home.

It sounds like the ideal opportunity for a quick sale, right? In reality, it’s just the beginning. I’ll meet with the client and tour the house they’re interested in. As we go from room to room, they’ll tell me why it’s the perfect property for them. We may even go so far as reviewing the property disclosures and writing that offer.

But the stars don’t always align and the deal doesn’t go through, and that can be a good thing.

Glad They Were Talked Out of That First Home

Once the client has engaged me as their agent, they have a new resource — someone who deals with their local real estate market every day, someone to give them a second opinion and introduce ideas or concerns that wouldn’t have crossed their mind. I may say things that make them take a step back, or I might ask questions that they aren’t prepared to answer.

What often happens is that we agree to let this first property go and use it as a springboard to start the real estate journey. Ultimately, when they find the property that’s truly right for them, they can always look back at their first “love” as a great learning experience. I can’t tell you how many times a new buyer, when closing on their new home, mentions that first house with which they were so enamored. They’re happy they didn’t actually buy it and are grateful I “talked them out of it.”

For instance, I met two buyers in San Francisco who had previously lived in New York City. They met me at a high-rise amenity condo building and loved the unit for sale. They returned a few times, assessed the area, the proximity to work and toured the building to see all the amenities. Next, they returned for a final showing, and then they wanted to make an offer.

The high-rise condo lifestyle was what they were familiar and comfortable with coming from Manhattan. When they sensed hesitation in my voice, they asked my opinion. I told them that, for the same amount of money, they could get into another neighborhood and a completely different housing situation. That hadn’t occurred to them, as they only knew what they had known from New York real estate.

Before they wrote the offer, I took them around to some other areas where their money could go further. At the end of the day, they made the decision to keep looking — and in other areas. After just a few months looking at condos and houses, they bought a small 1920s fixer-upper in a different part of town. They hired a contractor, renovated it, moved in six months later, and were quite content with their new home and lifestyle.

The Journey is the Reward

During the home buying process, you visit a variety of properties and neighborhoods. You go up and down and around through excitement, joy and disappointment. This is all part of the home buying journey. Through the journey, you discover what you don’t know; you learn what you like and don’t like. Experiencing a lot of different properties and neighborhoods gives you a wider perspective, which ultimately helps in the final decision.

Some people don’t have the time or energy to look at multiple properties. They want to speed up the process just to get it “out of the way.” Or they become smitten with that first property and their intuition tells them that’s the home for them. Maybe it is. But buying a home is a huge decision; you shouldn’t rush it!

Brendon DeSimone is a Realtor® and real estate expert based in San Francisco and New York. He is a contributor to Zillow Blog, has collaborated on multiple real estate books and is often quoted by major media outlets. Follow Brendon on Twitter.

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.