Are you a chronic “Home Searcher”?
Searching for Your Dream Home Can Be Frustrating
If you have started your search for a new home, the last thing you want to do is spend unnecessary time and energy on something that isn't giving you the results you want.
Unfortunately, very few home buyers know of better methods to use to find their dream home.
I got this email from a reader. They ask:
"My husband and I are first time home buyers and spend hours searching home sites and calling agents - who frankly don't really know much about the property we are calling about. They seem clueless, even though they are listed on the sites as the "Premier Agent" for the property. What is going on here? Why are they listed as the contact, yet try to sell us on other properties?"
This is a great question, which I LOVE, because finally after years of dealing with the frustrations myself, I have answers.
Here is how the current system works
The preferred agents or top agents in many online home search sites are simply local realtors who are part of the site’s paid advertising program. They pay a monthly premium to show up on search results in the area of their choosing.
Don’t believe me? - Pick a property and call the top or preferred agent and ask them specifics about it; then listen to them fumble while they try to look up its details - or steer you into another direction like “what is it you are looking for exactly”? “I have another property which would be a better fit for you”
THE PAINFUL TRUTH: Realtors who are featured next to properties are many times NOT the listing agent, which means that they are more inclined to steer you in the direction of another property which is their listing.
Why would this matter? Because if you end up buying a home which is their own listing, they will get double the amount of commission, since they do not have to "split" with another agent.
Now, if you call about a property and you actually get in touch with the listing agent, there are problems with this as well.
Many listing agents are extremely busy, due to the fact that they are most likely managing many different listings at one time (especially in this crazy market), so don't expect to get to see the home right away.
Oh, and if you are already working with a real estate agent (they will ALWAYS ask you this question first) you are at a disadvantage (remember, they now have to split their commission with your agent).
I went through the exact same frustrations
When my wife and I were searching for a home in 2009, we started working with an agent. This agent showed us a few properties at first (a total of three), then suddenly became unavailable.
We were inexperienced and thought that this is how the process worked. We would search online for properties, call our agent and they would setup a time we could meet the listing agent at the property. Mind you, we were doing all the searching and touring the properties OURSELVES, without our agent coming with us.
The homes which met our criteria we would put in offers very close to the asking price.
Time and time again we were told "sorry, the seller has went ahead with the other offer".
We were getting so frustrated. Our loan was good, we had the down payment, our terms were good (we didn't ask that they fix a lot of things, because we wanted somewhat of a fixer home anyway) yet we were getting demolished by the competition.
What was wrong???
We were so frustrated that we stopped searching altogether. Many months had went by before one day when we drove by an open house.
This house was everything we wanted.
We had our "poker" faces on - making sure not to get too excited in front of the agents. But when I caught a glimpse of my wife's expression, I knew that we had to get this house.
The agents followed us through the home asking us if we had any questions. We said, not really. Then the next question followed: "Are you working with an agent?".
We both looked at each other quickly and said, "not at the moment, no".
The agents attitude toward us changed immediately. They suddenly became very warm and attentive. We proceeded to speak with them in depth regarding the property and its potential, what the current owner was expecting in terms of price, contingencies, etc.
Two days later we placed an offer. We were told that there was another offer on the table with an agent from another buyer - which worried us. We knew who it was as there was only one other couple at the open house who showed as much interest as we did.
A week had went by and we had gone through a few counter offers when we were told that our offer was accepted and we got the house!
What was different this time?
Before working directly with the listing agent, we had been beaten out by the competition every single time... After speaking with many friends, family and colleagues - this wasn't just coincidence.
What's the most frustrating thing you've dealt with when searching for a new home?
Here are 3 important steps to help you find your dream home faster and with less frustration.
Step 1: Find and Work with Listing Agent
Look carefully at which agents are being shown on the home search sites and make sure you are choosing the listing agent.
Working with the listing agent WILL give you an advantage, no matter what other agents tell you.
If you are not sure who the listing agent is on a property go to your local MLS website. Always ask the agent you call "are you the listing agent?" to make sure.
Step 2: Work with a Seasoned Realtor
If you do choose to work with a realtor who is NOT the listing agent, work with someone who has "clout" and reputation in the area.
Why is this important? Because it will help prevent other agents from ignoring your offer in favor of getting their own buyer. They will think twice before stepping around a realtor who is known as a power-player in their area.
You can find these professionals by simply looking at recent sales in the area and who is dominating the neighborhood - both by price point as well as volume.
Now I know that you might LOVE to work with your realtor that you've known since High School because he/she is so sweet and hard-working. That's fine. But this is one of the largest purchases of your life, so please at least consider alternative solutions if things don't work as expected.
Step 3: Use a Home Search Concierge
Your time is extremely valuable. Fortunately there are services out there which handle everything for you. I know that right now I can order delivery food, a massage, an Uber ride to anywhere I want to go, or just about anything else on my phone.
Why should searching for your dream home be any different?
Search Google for home search or home buying concierge services. Duvora.com is a home search concierge service in the Greater Los Angeles area and it's 100% Free for home buyers.
What Other Buyer Frustrations Can You Think Of?
Do you know any other frustrations to add to this list? Has your experience been good or bad when searching for a new home?
Let us know in the comments below — and be specific.