There’s a standing joke about real estate agents as therapists, and there’s some truth to the idea. But listening and analyzing and advising aside, the job of a good real estate agent is to guide. And a big part of the guidance process is educating buyers by debunking all the inaccurate assumptions they have about the housing market. Here are seven all-too-common buyer beliefs most agents see all the time.
My cousin/sister-in-law/great aunt is an agent and will totally help me!
Rule number one — when doing business with family, proceed with the utmost caution. Before you call up great aunt Myrtle, do a little cyber stalking to see how her job performance really holds up. Aside from helping you troubleshoot one of the most important investments, knowing what a property is really worth and being able to negotiate either to win it or get it for the best value is an experience thing. And please, for the sake of common decency, avoid the ol’ switcheroo. Don’t let one agent do all the heavy lifting, only to bail at the last minute so your cousin can write the offer. It’s rude and inconsiderate, and it will ultimately work against you getting your best deal, one way or the other.
We’re better off using the listing agent
Be very clear on this point. The listing agent has signed a contract to represent the seller to their best ability. That means you, as the buyer, are automatically coming in second. The workaround? Bring in your own agent! Let your agent, who has your best interests at heart, go toe-to-toe with the listing agent. This is what real estate agents do for a living, and you will be far better served letting a professional represent you — just you — than you would letting the listing agent play both sides of the field. Many buyers believe they will get a better price by using the listing agent, but rarely is that true.
We just have to keep looking for that dream house
Spoiler — there is no dream house. Unless your budget is limitless, there will always be a compromise. And when you do stumble across a great house, rest assured that others see the appeal. I’m not suggesting you need to buy the first house you tour, but buying a house isn’t an endurance race. Be willing to look past all the fixable flaws, instead of searching month after month for the turnkey dream home, and you’ll come out ahead.
Online home values are accurate
They are not. A starting place, maybe, but nothing more. Some are pretty close, but others are way way off. Do yourself a favor and look at them with a grain of salt.
Underbidding is a good strategy
It’s a good strategy is your goal is to offend the seller. Otherwise, the best approach is making an offer that’s supported by comparable properties in the area, and taking the advice of your agent. Remember — you’re working with an expert for a reason. If you are going to make a ‘lowball’ offer, make sure you have an agent that can sell a good story with it. Otherwise, you may not even get a response.
We should find the house first and deal with financing second
This is a huge rookie mistake. You are a far more appealing prospect when you come in with loan approval documents and proof of funds, and that’s doubly true during a pandemic. Many listing agents won’t even show a property in the time of Covid without a pre-approval as proof. Plus, you can often get a better price by dropping a loan contingency, and that’s only possible if you’re fully underwritten with your lender — not just pre-approved.
Lenders are all the same
Wrong again. Don’t make the mistake of assuming all lenders are basically selling versions of the same thing. They’re not, and they aren’t, and you need a lender with experience and connections to avoid delays. Even different people within the same bank or mortgage brokerage have different skill sets for navigating your file through the system. Ask me for recommendations.
It’s not your fault
If you buy or sell one or two or even three houses over your lifetime, it makes sense that you won’t know everything there is to know about the process, least of all the legal side, which is constantly changing. That’s why you work with an agent who knows her stuff. I can help you navigate the ins and outs of the home buying or selling process in the San Francisco Bay Area — feel free to call me to see how I can be of help!