Buying a house is a process. One where you’ll spend a lot of quality time with your Realtor®. One where you might even drive him or her a little ... nuts.
No, we’re not talking about that time you called after 10 p.m. because you saw a house online and had to see it immediately (though, hey, you might want to ease up on that, too). We’re talking about the stuff you do that actually sabotages your chances of getting the right house, at the right price—or getting a house at all.
1. Caring too much about aesthetics
Your real estate agent is happy to show you as many houses as you want—she just wishes you’d see beauty is only skin-deep (and very often totally fixable!) when it comes to real estate.
Many buyers get caught up in how a house looks right now. And if it looks dirty, outdated, or in need of small repairs, you might be tempted to run. After all, how much is all that going to cost anyway?
Not much, sometimes.
“I've had clients see some marks on a wall and a stain on the carpet and say, ‘This home needs $50,000 worth of work.' That's not anywhere close to the renovations needed," says Joshua Jarvis, owner of Jarvis Team Reality in Brookhaven, GA.
Plus, you may not end up paying anything at all.
“The cost to make the home like new is often easy to negotiate" in the deal, he says.
2. Tipping your hand
You know how it goes. You've seen a billion places. You're totally comfortable with your agent. Your feelings just start to slip out. You're getting a bit loose-lipped. Like, why is there shag carpet in the bathroom, anyway?
But voicing your criticism could spell disaster.
“There's been instances where the seller has been home and overheard the buyer, and it's hurt them in negotiations," Jarvis says.
Even if they aren't home, Jarvis has had clients get busted on video, and in open houses the listing agent might be there. It's best to save your jokes about the seller's vast “Frozen" figurine collection until you're back in the car.
3. Waiting too long
Found a house you want to buy? Don’t wait. Taking too long to make an offer in a competitive real estate market can drive your agent crazy, and for good reason.
“If too much time passes between a buyer viewing a home and making an offer, the seller might not take you as seriously as another party who quickly expressed interest and maintained communication,” says Dan Hicks, a Realtor with Equity Colorado Real Estate in Denver.
4. Thinking it's all about the money
Don’t get us wrong—how much you’re willing to offer for a house is a huge part of your offer. But it isn’t the only thing you should worry about.
“It’s not necessarily the highest offer that the seller will accept, but rather the best structured offer,” Hicks says.
Your agent knows a good offer is a mix of timing, the right price, and reasonable contingencies (those clauses that give you the option to bail out of the deal if something isn’t met). If you decide on a price, but refuse to cave on 10 contingencies, you’re probably frustrating your agent—and the seller—more than a bit.
5. Ignoring what the seller wants
When you’re shopping for real estate, it’s hard not to see a house as a product you’re buying.
But real estate isn’t like other business deals. You’re buying from another person who has to choose you as the buyer.
Sellers are motivated for different reasons. Some are entirely driven by money, for example, while others want to see their first home go to someone who will love it as much as they did.
“When you hire a Realtor to represent you in the purchase of a property, [they’re] gathering information about the seller's motivation,” Hicks says.
They’ll use that information to help you build the best offer, and if you’re ignoring it, you could be hurting your chances.
6. Talking to the other team
OK, let's get this out of the way: The listing agent is not the enemy. But talking to him without your own agent present is never a good idea, even if you think you're just being friendly to help seal the deal.
“I've had clients talk to the seller or agent and divulge information that would harm them," Jarvis says. “Stuff like ‘Oh, don't worry about inspections, my company is paying a huge relocation bonus' doesn't exactly set the stage for a tough negotiation with the seller."
Even if you don't think you're saying anything that could hurt, you never really know. Remember, “the listing agent's job is to get the most money for the seller," Jarvis says. Just don't do it.
7. Lowballing the counteroffer
So the sellers didn’t accept your offer, but they’re willing to consider a counter. If your next offer isn’t reasonable, at best, your agent will spend a lot of time going back and forth between you and the sellers' agent. At worst, you’ll frustrate the sellers and lose the house for good.
We get it. You don’t want to overspend or give in on too many parts of the deal, but don’t be a Scrooge. Listen to your real estate agent. By now, he knows what the seller will and won’t accept.
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