Tuesday, July 13, 2010

What I HATE About Car Shopping—Is What Some People HATE About Buying a Home

We need a new car and have needed it for several months now. We have the ability to purchase one but have avoided the car lots like the plague. Why? Because car salesmen lurk there!

We have browsed on the internet for as long as possible but it was getting to the point of a test drive to make our decision. Last Saturday, my husband and I took a deep breath and decided to head to the Hwy 61 White Bear/Maplewood car mile of car dealerships to really get started.

We started off slowly…First we drove through a few lots without leaving the car. Then we had lunch. Finally, we could avoid it no longer and we got out of the car.

Our first stop was one that we had made before. It was a dealership where we had purchased a used car a decade ago and in a moment of great courage had stopped by last year…Did I say we really need a new car? No haggle pricing is their motto. Translation: No negotiation. (But who pays full price it this market, right?)

As luck would have it, we were approached by the same salesman we talked to a few months ago. At that time their brand was being discontinued but this guy told us it was definitely going to be picked it up—we didn’t believe him and we were right. We asked a few questions about a car on the lot but they no longer had the exact model car we wanted. This vehicle was larger and more expensive. We asked about the no haggle policy and were told that was still firmly in place….then he hedged and said he had never seen anyone get more than a $500 discount. (I guess they aren’t set in stone after all are they?)

Next, we headed over to a import/domestic dealer that had some awesome pricing on brand new 2009 models. With 2011 models coming in and 2009’s on the lot we figured it was worth looking a different brand than we had in the past. Here’s where things went from “finding someone to help us BUY a car” to “Someone SELLING a car to us”.

Let me tell you…I hate being SOLD anything!

We parked in the back and perused the lot first. According to their website, there were five 2009’s left and we only could find one on the lot. There were dozens of similar models in 2010 but none had all wheel drive or the options that we were interested in.

When we came around the building Mr. Eager Beaver jumping into action…He stuck out his hand to my husband and introduced himself.

“Hi Eager here. What can I do for you?”

We introduced ourselves and told him which car we were looking at.
“There isn’t a better deal out there for $17,995. We have one in White and one in Black? Which one did you want to see?”

We had looked over the white one but could not find the black one. He said with a smile that they hide the best deals but he would locate it for us. Then he started to talk about the price in the newspaper ad being a low price with a military discount and loyalty discount.

“But I saw you drive up in a GM car right? So not to worry, you get that discount…Not, military? I have to add $500 to the price.”

Wait a second…The priced on the car windows and the prices on the internet are not the prices without discounts? We are going to ADD to the prices? So far it was $1500 higher than advertised. Hmmm…That doesn’t seem fair.

“Well everyone is doing it so we have to in order to stay competitive.”

Seems wrong I said as we walked up to the black car we were looking for…this after looking in several cars for the right one. As we found it, we saw another salesperson and customer leaving on a test drive in the same model and year white car.

“Well there goes the white one now…You’re not too late though. Write a check for a $1000 and it can be yours until we get the details worked out. Just tell me which you prefer, white or black and I will get you the car! "

Excuse me…we aren’t going to write a check for anything until we finish asking our questions, researching and test driving.

In a condescending voice as if placating a small child, he says,

“Go ahead. What do you want to know? But you won’t find a better deal than on the two you were looking at. I’m just trying to help you.”

Okay…We want to understand why all the tags in the windows of the four red cars are at different prices.

“You are wrong,” said Eager. “They are all the same price…give or take. Depending on options.”

I tried to be clearer. I told him we were trying to figure out what the different options are and how they affect the price so we can decide which options and car will work best for us.

“Okay but, trust me, they are all the same.” Eager says. “We will have to look at each car.”

One by one he looks at the window sticker and drags us father down the row of 2010’s. Two of the cars did have almost identical options and prices somewhere in the $18900 range. We get to the third car and he says,

“See they are all the same car and same price. But we have another full back lot of cars if you want to look at a few dozen more,” Eager chuckles.

By this time, my husband is reading the window stickers and I am looking at the handwritten prices on the mirrors. The third red car has a big price tag of $19500. Eager’s last little joke was the last straw. Annoyed I say, “Let me understand this. They are all the same $17,995 as in the paper, if we add in $1500 for the non-discounts to the prices. But the signs say $18,900, $19,500 and…” now I am at the fourth red car. “$20,100? We don’t have to look at anything else. We are done here!”

My husband saw a bewildered Eager literally throw his hands to the heavens as I walked straight to our car. I was upset but my husband was laughing as we left. Probably due to the fact that he had the funny picture of Eager pulling his hair out while I was frustrated with the lack of information and assistance we received.

We did make it to a third lot but said. “Just looking” whenever approached by sales people.

So what does my rambling have to do with real estate sales?

One thing…I don’t sell houses. I let the houses sell themselves!

I don’t push people into buying something without allowing them to get all the information on the property they require to make their decision. I don’t lie about prices, discounts or the property itself. I present the information on the house and help people understand the paperwork. I inform them on what questions to ask as a buyer and why it is important to disclose everything about the property as a seller. I assist in negotiating a price that makes it a win/win for all parties involved.

Letting a house sell itself works for both buyers and sellers. Home buyers do not want to be rushed into a home purchase. They need to process and understand what they are buying or buyer’s remorse could set in and they will quickly back out of the deal. A seller needs their home to be properly marketed without over-selling it. A house that is oversold and pushed on a buyer without adequate information could leave a seller open to problems and possible lawsuits.

Mr. Eager Beaver might have had a sale Saturday if he would have just calmed down, provided us with the information we were requesting and gave us a few moments to process what we were hearing and seeing. Instead, he tried to hard to sell a car. He was so busy selling, he lost a sale.

In the market for a REALTOR® that knows how to market a property and let homes sell themselves? I would like to help. If you are buying, selling or relocating to Minnesota and need help from a professional REALTOR®, give me a call or visit my website for a FREE Relocation Packet , Homebuyers Success Packet or sign up for Listingbook Twin Cities Home Search. I specialize in acreage and lakeshore properties in the north and east Twin Cities metro area including Ham Lake, Lino Lakes and all communities in the Forest Lake School District! Serving Anoka, Chisago, Ramsey and Washington Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm