Tuesday, October 26, 2010

“They Don’t Need an Agent!”—How First Time Homebuyers Find their Way Home!

My cell phone rang as I pulled into the parking lot of my RE/MAX real estate office in White Bear Lake one afternoon. The caller said he and his fiancée had just driven by a listing of mine and could I show them the inside. My first question is always, “Are you working with a real estate agent?” “No”, he answered. The meeting was set for the next evening.

The young man and his fiancée arrived with an entourage of parents and assorted other friends and relatives. Being first time buyers, they wanted assistance and approval on their very first home purchase. Looking over the home from top to bottom, they liked what they saw but needed time to think. I asked the question I always ask, “When you are shopping for a home, are you shopping for a REALTOR®?” One of the dads quickly answered. They don’t need an agent and won’t be signing any contract with a buyer’s agent. They will get a better deal working directly with the listing agent.

I explained why this wasn’t true but could tell from the look on this dad’s face, he wasn’t about to believe me.

I avoided the debate but went on to explain agency to the young couple. I asked them to sign the disclosure on agency as required by the State of Minnesota. Buyers need to understand that with any of my broker's listings, I am under contract to work for the seller and protect their interests. However, if the couple decides to sign a buyers’ representation agreement with me, they would be in a DUAL agency when looking at any property currently listed with RE/MAX Specialists. They had seen many homes over the last several weeks with dozens of other REALTORS®, but I was the only listing agent who explained agency to them or asked them to sign the required disclosure.

Days later, a decision was made; the young couple wanted to make an offer on my listing. A contract was signed for buyers’ representation for the specific home only. Dual agency now applies. As an agent working for both parties, I could not do anything that would hurt either the buyer or seller. Because the agreement was only for the specific home, I could not discuss other property options. An offer was presented, but terms could not be agreed upon. The buyers went away.

A few weeks the price was reduced on my listing. I called this young couple to see if the lower price would be enough to renew their interest. It would. But there was also another new construction house in a different area that was being considered.

Another showing. They were sure that they had it down to between the two homes. I could see the indecision and confusion on their faces. I asked about the other home they were considering to help them contrast it to my listing to help my selling clients and put their home in a better light. As with most homes, neither home was a perfect fit. I am a firm believer that after weighing all of the pluses and minuses, homes will sell themselves if they are the right home. A week passed. No offer came forth.

Finally a phone call came from the young man. We have made a decision. We are not going to offer again on your listing. It is not the right home for us. In fact, neither home is right. We are starting over and think we need our own agent. "Would you help us find a home?"

Now as their buyers’ representative, I got to work. For the next few weeks, we visited half a dozen or so homes from the hundreds currently on the MLS that met their criteria. Traveling from Stillwater to White Bear Lake and Hugo to Forest Lake, we narrowed down the field of potential homes to a couple of favorite houses. Finally, one sparked enough interest for a second showing with the parents, but this home also had a few quirks that raised concerns. That same evening, since we were out, I set up another showing for a home in a development that hadn't considered but I knew would be a very good match for their needs. As it turned out, the second home was perfect for these buyers!

With the perfect home, there was no delay or hesitation in signing the offer. Things fell into place. With every visit to the home for the inspection and showings, the young couple became more excited about their first home.

At the final walk-through, with minutes to go before they were to receive the keys to their first home, I asked them, “So, are you glad that you decided to sign with a REALTOR®?”

They answered together, “Yes!! You made it so much easier to find the right home! Especially for first time buyers.” I don’t make this stuff up…Those were their exact words.

After the closing, I received a hug and sincere, “thank you for everything”, from my young clients. As they set off to begin life in their dream home a thought struck me, I absolutely LOVE my job!

Counties in Minnesota.

Copyright 2010 Teri Eckholm