3/17/2014

A Few Things I Have Learned From My Clients and Selling Homes

Learning does not necessarily come in the form you think it will--sometimes you learn from mistakes, or you learn from what others tell you and what they know, or you learn from having been around that bend in the road before.  We are in the business of having to explain to our clients what they must do before, during and after transaction, and hence, we are constantly in the business of explaining and talking.  But the learning process goes in both directions.

I was so surprised when I was helping a buyer in  a purchase transaction for a WWI era Craftsman-style home to find out that those foundation blocks that look like solid concrete are in fact . . . hollow.  It turned out the particular house in question had a very poor deteriorated foundation on 3 sides.  The remaining side with hollow ornamental concrete block was providing the most support, which was not full support either. It turned out my buyer, who had prior experience with this type of foundation and didn't like them, knew and expected the concrete block to be hollow, a fact I ended up learning from this one client and which was emphasized by his physical inspector as well. Yes,  they finally bought the house anyway because in the end, he wanted an older house style.

I've learned this more than once:  Sometimes what people think they must have and they can't live without can be laid to rest if they find something that's desirable enough to make them forget their first "must have".  When working with a couple who had the expectation of buying at the standard of the brand new housing their parents could buy in the 1950s, I was beginning to wonder if I could sell them a home in a city of 50-year-old homes. After all, most houses have cracks in the driveway if it isn't brand new concrete.  I pulled up to preview a property and thought twice about going in--it had cracks in the driveway, among other things.  But I thought, what the heck, I'm here so I may as well look.  After seeing the vaulted and beamed ceiling family room, I knew I had to get them in there.  It turned out that was the feature that sold them on it, and even though the cracks in the driveway were noticed, they paled in comparison to the family room.

Sometimes the talkative partner who says they have the final word just turns out to not be the ultimate decision-maker.  If you have to talk about it too much, you're probably not it.  Like these birds milling around in the parking lot and not going anywhere, such people don't buy or sell because they don't come to an agreement.  "Meeting of the minds" is what makes everything move forward.

As Realtors helping our clients understand the market, we get used to telling them things, sometimes over and over.  And then again and again, because there's a lot to know in all that paperwork, and data about the market, and what comes from our knowledge and experience.  But, sometimes (and I learned this from a garage mechanic one time who was good at listening to me ramble on about my car's symptoms) people have their own intuition about their own deal. In the midst of a counter-offer meeting, the buyer insisted on a low price I believed the seller was unlikely to take, even though that market had more sellers than buyers. Maybe it was the glint in the his eye, but I decided to go ahead and print up the counter offer with the buyer's price.  With no further ado, the next day the seller accepted it, and escrow was opened.

So sometimes you know a lot, but you still have to keep your alert system on for incoming unrecognized sources.



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