When someone is looking to buy a house — whether it’s that person’s first or fifth time — there are always pressures and worries associated with the purchase.
All buyers experience stress, regardless of their price point or knowledge of the process, says Amy Maris, broker-owner at Okoboji Realty in Okoboji, Iowa. “They want to know their concerns are valid, and they want to know their agent takes the time to be with them. They also don’t want to be pushed or dragged through the process.”
Maris says that whatever concerns arise, agents need to acknowledge them and immediately work to resolve the problem.
“We are a very statistical office. If the buyer has a value concern, and they want the stats — especially our second- and vacation-home buyers — we have all our numbers to share with the client,” says Maris. “They didn’t get to the point in life where they’re buying a second home without being financially savvy.”
Here are seven scenarios that can add anxiety to buyers’ lives and what your agents can do to lessen some of the burden:
Multiple offers. These days, as soon as a property comes on the market in Davenport, Iowa, Scott Ryder knows to expect multiple offers. Such situations can be very frustrating to first-time buyers or others who haven’t dealt with them before.
To keep clients competitive, Ryder, broker-owner at Exit Realty Fireside in Davenport, tells his agents to set up showing appointments the same day they hear about a listing or see one online. They also talk to the buyers about making realistic offers on a house. “Sometimes our clients have made offers on a house and lost it because they weren’t realistic and went too low,” he says.
Contingency chaos. Your buyer found his or her dream house, and the offer was accepted. But that dream can become a nightmare if the seller has too many contingencies, such as pushing off closing until they find their own home.
“You start stacking up four or five of those contingencies, and it can feel overwhelming,” Ryder says.
To alleviate some of that stress, Ryder advises agents to keep them constantly updated on any and all movement within the seller’s other transactions.
Stubborn sellers. Beth Foley, associate broker at Summit Properties in Holland, Mich., had clients who really wanted a property, but the seller wanted a few thousand dollars more and was willing to throw in furniture.
“I had to talk to the buyers and convince them that this is OK. They were only $5,000 apart on a $350,000 property,” explains Foley, who went straight to the numbers to calm her clients. She pointed out that in terms of their mortgage, it would only amount to about $20 a month more. “They had already lost out on two houses that they wanted,” she said. “And I told them that they could sell the furniture if they didn’t like it.”
Can’t get to a showing fast enough. Relocation clients sometimes have to travel hours by car or plane to get to showings in the area they’re moving to, which gives local house hunters time to put an offer on a home first. Ryder suggests agents use Skype or FaceTime to show homes to out-of-towners ahead of time.
“I had a client who was being transferred here from Korea. She needed to find a house, so I showed her the property on FaceTime, and she closed on it before she even moved here,” he says. “It was exactly what she wanted.”
Problems arise in inspection. Once an offer is accepted, buyers are mentally ready to move in. But inspections could uncover situations that need to be remedied before closing.
“The agent should get the expert or service provider who can get in there and figure out what the price will be to fix whatever the inspection revealed,” Maris says. “We get the person who the buyer needs; we never make them get the person. Plus, agents know the area, and they know contractors who can give a good estimate.”
Then the agent should go back to the seller to renegotiate the sale contract based on extra expenditures to fix the problems. A savvy agent should know when it’s appropriate to ask the sellers to either fix a problem or lower their price so that the buyer can make the fixes themselves.
Sellers are slow to decide. There’s nothing worse for buyers than putting in an offer on a home and not hearing back from the sellers for days or even weeks. Maris runs into this often when she’s dealing with multiple sellers who are heirs to waterfront properties.
“Many of the properties we sell have been handed down from generation to generation. Sometimes, you’ll have 20 heirs selling a property,” she says. “If someone puts an offer in and asks me for an answer by 5 p.m., that will be virtually impossible.”
The stress can be tamed with thorough communication. She says agents need to keep their buyers informed on a daily basis, even when nothing has happened. They should also have patience with clients when they vent about a slow process, she says.
Buyers are overwhelmed with life. Buying a house has so many moving parts, but clients have other things on their minds, too.
“My buyers have crazy schedules with graduations, weddings, big work projects, babies, and more,” Foley says. “I ask buyers who are overly frenzied if they need to take a couple weeks off of looking at houses to get the monkeys off their backs, and then go back at it again. Many times, they tell me I am right.”
Agents should be able to recognize when buyers have too much on their plate, which could lead to making the wrong decision. It doesn’t matter who the buyer is — young, older, new to buying, or purchasing their retirement home — Foley says it’s important for the agent to sit down and listen to their concerns, wants, and needs. That means forgoing text or email for face-to-face interaction, she says.
“There has to be a human side to buying a house,” Foley says. “The stress is bad enough, but the agent should be able to ease a lot of that stress by taking care of many things.”