by Neil Jenman
READING TIME: Apx 7 minutes
Buying a home in Australia has become so frustrating. Home-buyers have dozens of reasons to detest the process of finding a home – especially when dealing with agents.
From properties advertised with no price – and when you ask, “how much”, agents lie to you – to agents not returning messages. So annoying.
As one buyer quipped, “We get better service buying a Kit-Kat from a 7-Eleven store for a dollar (for a 45g bar) than trying to buy a home for a million dollars.”
So, how do you avoid the frustration? How do you avoid getting treated badly? And, most important of all, how do you find your dream home?
It is important to understand most agents. Generally, today’s agents have three characteristics: They are greedy, they are lazy, and they are stupid. Once you understand these characteristics you will be less frustrated, but most importantly, you will learn how to use these characteristics to your advantage.
For example, take the characteristic of greed.
What you are about to discover will help you to understand why, when you tell agents that you have sold your home and are “cashed up”, they seem so disinterested.
As one buyer (Frank and his wife Jenny from Melbourne) said recently: “I told agents that we have sold our home for three million bucks and we are looking for a nice apartment around two million – and yet none of them, not one, has called us back. I can’t believe it.”
Frank, here is your mistake. You should not have said you have sold your home. If agents get calls from two buyers – and the first buyer has a home to sell but the second buyer has sold their home, which buyer will get the most attention? The answer, when you think about it, is obvious; the first buyer.
Agents are more focused on sellers than buyers. If an agent knows you must sell-and-buy again, you will get more attention than if you just want to buy. When you want to sell, agents chase you to the ends of the earth. They want your home for sale (it’s called a “Listing”), and they will do almost anything to get you signed-up and listed (exclusively).
Think about it: One of the first questions agents ask buyers is: “Do you have a home to sell?”. Now, as a buyer, you may think that being cashed-up will appeal to agents more than if you need to sell first.
If you have a home to sell, agents can get two sales from you – your home to be sold and the home you intend to buy.
Therefore, agents pay more attention to buyers with something to sell, especially in their area.
If you want agents to pay attention to you, pay attention to what appeals to them. Remember, they are greedy. And nothing brings out their greed more than the thought of a new listing.
So, be reticent with giving information to agents. Especially if that information works against you and will make it harder for you to find your dream home.
This brings us to the second characteristic of agents – lazy. The easier it is to sell a home the more likely agents will be interested; even more so if they make more money. And two commissions – the sale of your home and the purchase of your new home – are twice as good as one sale. And, so, if an agent can list your home, the agent is going to try extra hard to help you find your dream home. You will be on the agents’ ‘priority list’.
Agents will always treat you better if dealing with you means less work and more money. You are appealing to two of their basic instincts – Greediness and laziness.
Your business is to get agents interested in you. Anything you can do that fits in with their characteristics is likely to be better for you. You don’t need to lie to them, but you do need to be careful with disclosing information that will make it harder to buy your dream buy.
Now, of course, not all agents are greedy, lazy, and stupid (just most); so, it can pay you to send a message (or call) every agent in your chosen area and see if you find one who is kind, hard-working and intelligent (don’t laugh) and see if they will tell you if a home comes for sale that may suit your needs.
Another question you can ask all agents is this: What homes have you got coming up for sale soon that may suit us?
Now, most agents know of homes coming for sale long before they come for sale. Just as the agents hound home-owners, you can hound agents. Put their details in your phone and, once a week, send them a text such as: “G’day Gordon, do you have any homes coming up for sale that may suit us?” And then, next week, send another text: “Hi Gordon, just to let you know we are still looking for a house to buy.”
If you are top of mind with an agent, you are more likely to be one of the top people selected when a suitable home comes for sale.
As for agents being stupid – the third characteristic – do not get upset about it. Almost every buyer (or seller) who has dealt with a typical agent has thought, “I could do a far better job than these agents,” so maybe you can change careers. Think about it.
But now, here is the best, sure-fire, 99 percent definite way of finding your dream home. In all cases where this method is used, buyers find homes for sale that are not known to agents or other buyers. It’s a joyous feeling when you find a home using this method.
Here is what you do: Select the area in which you most want to live. Write a short note, in around 100 words, saying who you are and what you want. Such as:
“To the Home-Owner in Name of Suburb. We are looking to buy a home in this area. We have not had any luck with local agents, so if you are thinking of selling now (or soon), please let us know. We are willing to pay a good price for a good property. Please call us on [number] or email us on [address] and we will be in touch with you. Many thanks, Your Names. PS If you wish to use an agent, please ask the agent to contact us.”
If you wish to be more specific – and invest more time – you can drive around your chosen area and select properties you may consider. You can prepare a more direct note, such as:
“To the Home-Owner at Specific Address. We are looking to buy a home in this area. We have not had any luck with local agents, so we have selected a few homes that may suit us (from exterior appearance). Yours is one of these homes. If you are thinking of selling now (or soon), please contact us. We are willing to pay a good price for a good property. Please call us on [number] or email us on [address] and we will be in touch with you. Many thanks, Your Names. PS If you wish to use an agent, please ask the agent to contact us.”
For every hundred letters, you will get a couple of owners contacting you, sometimes three or four. To give you encouragement, in most areas, at least five percent of owners sell each year. So, in a year from now, five out of every hundred homes will have changed hands. All you have to do is get in before agents – and, presto, you should find plenty of homes.
If you send a thousand letters, you will have twenty or more properties to inspect, one of which may be your dream home. If not, try another thousand. Most suburbs have around 10,000 properties. Which means, in most suburbs, there are at least 500 properties to be sold in the next year, most not yet for sale. You can get in first. You can find your dream home.
Oh, and if any agents have been especially helpful to you and you cannot give them your own home to sell, you may give them some leads (get the owners’ permission).
To have your letters distributed, there are three ways: First, walk the streets and distribute them yourself (in an envelope with the hand-written words “CONFIDENTIAL TO THE OWNER”). Second, you can pay distribution companies (or anyone trustworthy) to do it for you. Finally, you can ask the local post office to distribute them with the local postie.
If you need help, let me know and I will do my best for you – at no charge, of course. Just email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PS Frank has found two properties – and we are just helping him to negotiate on one now. He and his wife are getting close. And feeling confident.
FOOTNOTE: Agents, if you are interested in offering risk-free-selling to home sellers, please contact us on email@example.com or call us on 1800 800 18. We always have sellers who are looking for good ethical agents to look after them – not exploit them. If you are interested in taking great care of sellers, we would love to hear from you. Thank you.
PLEASE NOTE: Our focus is upon helping consumers. Abuse from agents on our web site or Facebook page will be deleted, 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 get the best deal possible in real estate. And, of course, if any agents are serious about taking care of consumers, we’ll help you too. Thank you.