by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: 6.5 minutes apx
There are five main ways to find and buy your dream home.
1. THE NIGHTMARE METHOD.
For most home buyers in Australia today, finding their dream home is a nightmare.
At first you think something’s wrong. Maybe the agent didn’t get your message. You try again. Still nothing. What a rude agent, you think, there’s no way we’re buying from them.
You try another agent. Off goes your request for more information. Nothing. No reply, not even an automated acknowledgement. It’s as if your email vanished in cyber-space.
You really like this next home, so this time you’re not giving up easily. You find the agent’s mobile number and call. It goes to voice mail. You leave a polite message saying you’d like details about the home. Again nothing. Maybe the agent doesn’t check their voice mail too often. So, you send a text: “Hi, our names are Bill and Susan Buyer, we are interested in the home at So-And-So Street. Pease call us back on 1234 5678 asap.”
Oh, come on, this is ridiculous. Why are agents ignoring you? With all their advertising, why don’t agents respond to buyers?
Welcome to being a home buyer in the modern era. A world where you get better service buying milk from your local 7-Eleven than you get from agents when trying to buy a home. The biggest financial purchase of your life comes with the lowest level of service in your life.
When they first encounter the laziness, the indifference, the apathy and the blatant rudeness of most agents, most home buyers – especially first timers – can’t believe it. “We have got eight hundred thousand dollars to spend,” buyers typically say, “and yet we can’t find an agent to even talk with us.”
Unless you’ve got a home to sell.
Yes, if agents think you’re selling as well as buying, watch them change. They’ll go from lazy and apathetic to excited and determined. They will bug you relentlessly if you’re selling a home. Those impossible-to-contact agents when you are buying become impossible-to-shake agents when you are selling.
If you want to understand the entire real estate industry, you must understand one fact: Almost everything that most agents do has one aim – to find more listings (houses for sale). Agents know this: When they sign-up genuine sellers, those sellers are not going anywhere. Locked-in (or “tied up” as agents call it) to a three- or four-month selling agency agreement, the agents are almost certain to get a commission.
In the old days, sellers used to “list” their home with every agent. The first agent to sell the home got the commission. But, these days, it’s only the buyers that wander from agent to agent. Most sellers are exclusively tied to one agent – which is exactly the way agents like it.
As for buyers, well, it’s true, agents seldom respect buyers. Agents have a saying, “All buyers are liars.” Very few agents take the time to sit with buyers and discuss their needs. Few agents offer helpful suggestions. As for putting you in their car and driving you around to inspect homes at a time to suit you, forget it. What do you think agents are – chauffeurs?
No, if you are a home buyer today, you are basically on your own. You fit in with what agents want you to do. Often, only one agent in an office handles each home, so if that agent is on a day off, you’ll have to wait. If you’re interested in a home, turn up at the advertised open-for-inspection time. If that doesn’t suit your schedule, too bad, the agent will have other buyers interested, especially with the good homes in sought-after locations where owners are serious about selling.
When you do eventually speak with an agent – maybe ever-so-briefly at one of their ‘open inspections – and you tell them what you want and ask if they’ll call you if something comes up that might suit you, you’ll get a glazed look.
The agent is likely to give you a ten-word reply, “Watch our ads on-line and come to the open inspections.” That’s it. Those ten words sum up what most agents do for buyers these days – nothing.
That’s how the ‘game’ is played in the modern real estate world. Yes, I know you’d think that having a few hundred thousand dollars to spend would entitle you to a modicum of courtesy, but no. For most buyers, it’s a nightmare to find their dream home.
How else can you find your dream home if you don’t like the nightmare method?
2. A GOOD AGENT
Maybe you’ll get lucky and find a good agent, one prepared to give you the ‘heads up’ on new listings. Some buyers contact many agents until they find one who shows some interest in them.
Most agents are short-sighted, they don’t realise that today’s buyers are tomorrow’s sellers – well, not literally “tomorrow” but many buyers do become sellers one day.
Most buyers never sell with the agent from whom they bought – this is especially true with auction sales because that’s when buyers are treated with not only indifference but contempt.
Agents can’t seem to figure out that the reason they are almost always chronically short of listings is because they have chronically mistreated buyers. As anyone who has ever bought a home will tell you, how did the agent treat you? Did the agent personally deliver the keys to you? Did the agent come around the day after you moved in to see if you were okay? Of course not. And then, in the years ahead, how often did you hear from the agent? In most cases, never. I repeat, agents are short-sighted, they can’t see too far beyond making a sale today – and the “sale” the agents want more than anything else is to sign-up a new listing.
3. ASK THE AGENT TO PROSPECT.
You may be lucky and find an agent who will not only let you know about new homes coming for sale, but, also, will actively search for homes that may suit you. It’s called “prospecting” and the agents who are most keen to make sales – and those willing to work hard – will go door-to-door trying to find a home for you.
Some agents will also write letters to sellers outlining your requests in a home. If you can find such an agent, you have a good chance of finding your dream home.
If you wish to do so, you can drive through the area in which you wish to buy and note down the address of every home that may suit you. You then go to the agent and hand over a list of the homes you identified; there could be dozens, even hundreds. Say to the agent: “If any of these owners are thinking of selling, we could be very interested in buying.” All the agent must do is approach a few owners and make one of the easiest sales ever made. You might find an agent who’s keen. Ask for the new salespeople, those who have just started their careers, they are almost all eager to please.
4. DO IT YOURSELF!
If you can’t find an agent who will help you to find your dream home, do it yourself. That’s right, just drive around the streets in your chosen area, select the homes you like and drop a note in each letterbox. Say something as simple as:
“Hello, we are looking to buy a home in this area. Your home is the sort of home we may be interested in buying. We are not connected to any agent so a sale would not cost you any commission. If you are not selling now, but know someone who might be selling, please pass our details to them. We are approaching a few owners in this area with this request as we find it hard to find an agent who will even return our calls even though we are keen to buy something. We have finance arranged and can pay a high price if we find the right home. Thank you for your time in reading this note. Our contact details are [INSERT]. Best wishes to you [YOUR NAME]”
This method is a great way to find your dream home. You’ll likely be amazed and delighted at what you find. And, best of all, you won’t have any competition from other buyers.
5. APPROACH THE OWNERS DIRECT
Buyers are intimidated by agents. They see a home they like; they enquire to the agent, but the agent doesn’t call back. Or, worse, they inspect a home, make an offer to the agent, but then hear nothing. It’s so frustrating.
Well, instead of stewing about it and doing nothing, here is a very simple and powerful solution: Approach the owners. That’s right, knock on the door and explain what’s happening: “Hello, sorry to bother you, but your home is for sale and we have left several messages for the agent but can’t get a response.”
Things will spring into action now. Granted, the agents will be furious, but you are not doing anything illegal and you are certainly not trying to ‘cut out’ the agent and buy direct. You just want a civil response, a bit of courtesy.
It is quite appropriate and highly recommended for buyers to approach the sellers if they are not getting any satisfaction from the agent. Don’t hesitate. Do it. Don’t sit there stewing when an agent won’t get back to you. Approach the owners direct.
Once you find the home you love – and you will if you follow the suggestions in this article – there is one other action you can take to help secure the home and, maybe even buy it for a fair price – write a letter to the owners. I recently helped a police officer and his family to buy a home by composing a polite letter to the owners. It worked beautifully. Everyone was happy, the seller, the buyer and even the agent.
You don’t have to follow the ‘nightmare method’ to search for your dream home. You do have other options. The worst thing you can do is give up. And remember this: If you miss out on a home that you love, you will find another. If you miss a home, tell yourself it was not meant to be.
When you find the home you love, be careful. Don’t be too tough with your offers. It is very hard to buy your dream home and buy a bargain at the same time. Sure, some people do it, but the fastest way to lose the home you love is to make a ‘bluff offer’. The next minute you’ll find the home has sold to someone else for a higher price. Bluffing backfires more than it works, especially in a strong or booming market.
Here’s the question you need to answer: What’s more important to you – your money or your happiness? If you can afford to buy your dream home, go for it. Make your best offer and then wait. If you get it, great. If not, it was not meant to be.
Persist and you will succeed.
If you need any extra help, you are welcome to contact Jenman Support on 1800 1800 18.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted or ignored or well publicised – it depends on our mood.
But one thing will never vary: We will never stop doing what we love most – helping polite and honest consumers to get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’d love to help you too. Thank you.