Are you buying a home in the next few months? Are you scouring the internet and saving gorgeous homes to Pinterest?
Great! But 92% of all homebuyers start their search online, and guess what? You’re all competing with each other for a finite number of available homes for sale. If you’re not working with a Realtor, you’re wasting your time. And unfortunately, many homebuyers don’t realize that. It’s just one more bad habit homebuyers exhibit.
Our agents at Copeland & Co. work with homebuyers day-in, day-out, so we know all of the common bad habits of homebuyers. And we’ve laid five of them out here for you to read. Are you guilty of one of these 5 bad habits? Read on to find out!
#1. Window Shopping
If you are are not serious about buying, then you’re wasting your time, and if you’re working with a Realtor, their time as well. If you have time to waste, O.K. – we can’t stop you (though we highly advise against it – you could be using that time to do something really great, like exploring our top 4 favorite brunch spots.) But please don’t waste someone else’s time.
If you are just starting to look into buying a home, of course, there’s nothing wrong with that. Starting your search online and going to open houses in neighborhoods you think you might be interested in are a good way to get a feel for what’s out there. But don’t go into it blindly.
Start your home search by making a list of what you want in your dream home, and use that as your “road map”. We always warn our clients well in advance that while you may not get everything on your wish list, if you follow our guidance, we can get a bunch of those boxes ticked off, and get your really, really close. Which leads me to the next topic!
#2. Having Unrealistic Expectations
Yes, we will ask you to write down your criteria, but please don’t expect that you’ll be able to get everything on your list. It’s simply not realistic. The biggest hangups homebuyers run into is that they have a long list, but are short on price. Especially with median home prices at about $325,000 in Palm Beach County, it’s getting harder and harder to rein in buyer’s expectations.
The game plan: start with your criteria, and work with your Realtor to discover what on your list is going to be a realistic goal, and what is not, given your price range. We’ll even help you determine what you might think is important, but in practice, is not. We can help you prioritize. That’s the kind of value a great Realtor brings to the table.
#3 Putting In A Low Offer
Exhibiting this bad habit over and over will ensure you’ll never buy a home. The insistence on putting an offer that is lower than the list price is the single biggest mistake I see buyers make. It’s a seller’s market in Palm Beach County, and has been since about 2010. Inventory of available homes is tight in neighborhoods across all price ranges.
Here’s what we often see (before we coach our buyers out of making this huge mistake, mind you): The buyers love the house because it checks off a bunch of their “must-have” and “I want” boxes, but they decide they are going to make an offer that is $40,000 below list price because they think they can “get a deal”.
Uh-uh. Why? Because there is another couple out there working with a great Realtor whose coached them that are no “deals” in Palm Beach County, and that the home is priced right, and therefore they are going to come in at asking or over-asking and win the home, and you’ll be back at square one.
Trust your Realtor on their opinion of the value of the home. If you’re working with a great Realtor, they will run their numbers and let you know if it’s priced right or if they think there is room to negotiate. Let them tell you if it’s a good deal or not. That’s the intrinsic value of a great Realtor.
Here’s a similar scenario: you love the house, but you “want to see more houses”. What?!
We hear it all the time from buyers (especially first-time home buyers), and it makes us cringe every time. Distilled down, this is nothing more than pure and simple hesitation, and gone unchecked, it will kill your hopes of ever buying a home in Palm Beach County.
Often we have to coach our buyers off the “hesitation”. It really just comes down to one thing: Palm Beach County is extremely limited in current inventory (number of homes for sale), and even tighter in the median price range of homes ($275,000 – $350,000). Further, there are roughly three buyers to everyone one seller.
Think of it this way. You’re at a farmer’s market, and there’s the most luscious red apple you’ve ever seen for sale at $1. Let’s assume the $1 price is right. There are two other people looking at the apple at the same time you are. You came to the market specifically for a red apple, and the most you can pay is $1. What do you do? Are you going to pass, and say to yourself, let me see if there are any other apples for $1 at this market that are perfect for me. Of course not! You’re going to slap your $1 on the table, and you’ll take it!
If you find a home you love, think about it, but don’t think your way out of it. A home purchase is the single biggest and most important investment you’re going to make in your lifetime, and yet, often, we let that intimidation overwhelm us and we miss our opportunity. Hesitation is one of those bad habits that will keep you renting for the rest of your life.
Sure, you can hesitate and look at homes forever – there will always be new homes hitting the market for your to look at – but hesitation is going to keep you looking, while others are buying.
#5. Poor Communication
We saved this one for last, because it’s our pet peeve! People are generally not outstanding communicators. That’s especially true in this digital age. But communication is the key to getting you the home of your dreams, in your price range. It’s the fuel that makes the race car go.
Unfortunately, homebuyers can be particularly bad at communication, in two specific ways: promptness, and transparency.
Promptness means making sure you are in constant communication with your Realtor while you are actively in the home buying process. The faster you can get your Realtor’s questions answered, the faster we can find your perfect home. The faster you can get the information your mortgage broker requested, the faster he can get you approved. And the faster you can get important documents to your title agent, the faster she can close on your home. Homes go under contract in a day right now in this market. A day can be the difference between you buying, and you forever “looking”.
And be transparent in your communication: do not hold information back, even if you’re convinced it’s a good “tactic”. One common example we see if buyers who are secretive or not forthcoming about how much they would be willing to pay, or, more common, embellishing what they can afford.
When we work for a home buyer, we have a very long and detailed interview process, during which we go through a list of questions and requisites to find out what it is you are looking for, and determine what the best course of action is to help you see through that goal. Of course, one of the most important truths we need to know during that time are financing questions: how much deposit will you be putting down? How much are you approved for? And are there any contingencies we need to account for?
This is all extremely important to know up front, for two important reasons: first, so that we are not spinning our wheels looking at homes that are a waste of time, based on false or inaccurate information. Second, it’s so we can negotiate quickly, effectively, and efficiently when we do find that perfect home.
In sum, avoid these 5 bad habits we see of homebuyers, follow the rest of our professional guidance and coaching, and you’ll be in the home of your dreams in no time!