Common Questions from Home Buyers and How I Answer Them

I find that today’s home buyers are more educated than ever, largely due to vast Internet resources and other technologies. Being organized, informed, and confident are going to make buying your next property an exciting and rewarding process.

I find that today’s home buyer is more educated than ever, largely due to vast Internet resources and other technologies that have put the majority of information online. In fact, many of my clients are sending me listings from various sites like CBHomes.com before I even know about them, thanks to listing alerts and real time search engine functions. So in today’s market I field a lot less questions about prices and inventory than before.

What’s on Buyers’ Minds

I find today’s buyers are largely concerned with value and lifestyle. When the market went down, many people were stuck in that “in between property” they never intended on living in for more than a few years, but now could not sell. Everyone felt that the market would continue to go up and selling wouldn’t be a challenge, which we now know is not a guarantee at all.

So today’s buyer is often relying on me — the professional with the inside track on community amenities, retail, market shifts, and overall values — to guide their search to help meet their housing objectives. Many of them are looking at their next purchase as something they will potentially live in for a while, so getting it right is important. But even more than that, today’s buyer wants value in their next purchase. I get a lot of questions about where I see shifts in business and development, especially in the more urban markets, and how I interpret the prices in the area will change over time.

I also get a lot of questions about costs of repairs and remodels. I’ve never sold a house that needed nothing (even new construction), and buyers often ask my opinion on costs to make changes or improvement so they can input that information in their value equation. There is always the question of whether making the improvements will add value to the property, so in that sense my input is often requested.

My Answers

First, it is mandatory that my client relationships are built on trust; otherwise answering any of these questions can be tough. I explain to my buyers that I have market insights and expert knowledge which I will freely share, but that you should always do your own research, too. There are many great tools that I turn my clients on to which can be helpful. Basically I treat home searches as a collaboration more than anything. I do a lot more listening than talking and try to determine how I can best put them in front of properties that meet their criteria and living/lifestyle goals. I answer their questions candidly and work towards getting them the best possible information so they can make an informed decision. After that I allow the property to do the selling.

As for the costs, I always give the big disclaimer that I am not a contractor and will also not be the one performing the work, or making the final evaluation of costs. After making that clear, I offer my opinion based on my experiences, which at this point have given me a very good sense of costs and home repairs through the countless inspection reports I’ve read. As a real estate professional, you always have people and resources to call upon to get specific answers and I always offer the client to get them involved.

In short, I find the home search and buying process to be very similar to dating. For as odd as that may sound, the process is strikingly similar, where my role is to play a bit of matchmaker. Every property (like every person) has strengths, weaknesses, baggage, and appeal. It’s about finding out as much as you can, so you make the decision based on what you are looking for. My job is to help get the client(s) in front of properties that fit their needs and budget, getting them the best information, then allowing the process to unfold. Like I mentioned before, when it’s a good fit I find that the property speaks for itself.

Advice I Give Buyers

First and most importantly, do your research. Be the weekend warrior cruising open houses around town, or be the person doing the regular evening Internet sweep of your local listings, paying special attention to the details. Not for the realtor’s sake but your own, do your research. This will save time and your sanity, and it will make you a well-informed purchaser and prepared to make a strong offer when you find “the one,” because you will have already painted the target in your mind.

Next I say write down your real estate goals, that they should focus on three major categories — location, description, and price. Using those three categories, compile a wish list of what you want out of each and rank them by priority. Take your list and pick two of the three major categories that you feel strongest about based on the facts you compiled and the subsequent rankings. Realize now that the third major category is going to be your variable. Being organized, informed, and confident are going to make buying your next property an exciting and rewarding process.

Jonathan Fox is a top-producing, Washington, DC based real estate professional specializing in marketing, staging, and real estate market trends. He is licensed in three states with over 10 years of award-winning industry experience, and has contributed to many local and national publications across a wide range of real estate topics throughout his career.

As a young professional and an industry leader, Jonathan brings a unique dynamic to challenging topics while always maintaining a practical, easy to follow approach.

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