[photopress:dartboard.jpg,thumb,alignright]To some extent buyers, especially first time buyers, encourage receiving inaccurate information with regard to value and other home details, by asking the right questions at the wrong time.
Sellers understand that it takes time to work on a valuation. Rarely does a seller call and say, “I live at 123 Great Street, what is the value of my house?”. I’d venture to say that no seller expects an agent to know the value of their house on the spot, nor would they want a two second answer. Consequently, valuing the home properly for a seller, within the framework of the seller’s expectations of the time it takes to give an accurate answer, produces fairly good results most of the time.
Buyers on the other hand encourage shoot from the hip responses fairly continuously. The normal process should be that the buyer view the properties selected by both them and the agent. The buyer should select one or more that they might like to purchase, and then ask the agent to take some time to evaluate and value those properties that they like best.
But that is not normally how a buyer operates. Often they ask all kinds of questions, as if an agent knows every property they are showing in great detail and with a large degree of accuracy. Certainly the agent can, and will if you encourage it properly, do all of the work necessary to know every property. But buyers seem to expect an agent to spend this kind of time on every property being shown before the agent shows the property and before the agent knows if the buyer is even interested in the property. By and large an agent is not going to study every single property he shows in great detail, as it would be a waste of time, especially for the ones the buyer hates at first glance.
When you first look at property, you should simply be advising the agent if you like it or do not like it. Then you should ask the agent to dig into only the properties you like and might buy, and find out as much as possible about those and also value only those. For as long as I can remember, many buyers will go from house to house asking questions like, what do you think of the price? Is it worth it? What is the age of the house, have they had any offers, etc… By asking a lot of questions about every single house, even the houses you hate, you encourage the agent to answer off the top of his head. This starts the whole relationship off on a bad foot. The agent doesn’t want to say I don’t know to all of these questions, but it is not reasonable to expect an agent to know a lot about every single property being shown. Next thing you know the agent is giving sloppy and often inaccurate answers to avoid saying I don’t know to all of the questions.
Asking your agent if the asking price is reasonable, is of course a very good question. But just as the seller gives the agent hours and sometimes days to come up with that answer, don’t expect an answer on the spot for every single house you are shown whether you like it or not. If you do ask the question, and the agent answers immediately without taking at least an hour or two to research the answer to that question, don’t be surprised if the answer you do get on the spot is a knee jerk, inaccurate answer.
By encouraging the agent to answer inaccurately, you set up a relationship where the agent continues to give you shoot from the hip responses even on the property you eventually purchase. Look at property from your perspective. Do you like it or not. Then ask the agent to research the properties you like. This will insure a more accurate valuation and more accurate facts. First the agent calls the listing agent to see if he has any offers and if so, what time are the offers being presented. If you have a few hours to get your offer in, and you usually do, set an appointment for a couple of hours later and ask the agent to research the properties in detail before you sit down to discuss the price and terms of the offer.
Often it is not a good idea to ask ALL of your questions before making an offer. If the buyer’s agent calls the listing agent and asks tons of questions like How old is the roof, Did they ever have water in the basement, etc., that buyer will not be given good consideration if there are multiple offers. Many questions, especially negative toned questions, should be asked after you “tie up the property” and most of them should be asked of the home inspector during the home inspection.
Sorry, I seem to have covered two topics in one there. Just following the normal sequence of errors buyers often make when viewing property and prior to making an offer. Often the seller is more negotiable with a buyer who loves their house, than one who is “kicking tires” from the getgo. Timing is everything. You should ask your agent all of the questions you may have and he should answer all of the questions including the ones you didn’t ask. Leaving the agent room to apply proper timing to obtain the correct answers, without alarming the seller or seller’s agent at the wrong time, can make a huge difference in whether you get the property and how much you pay for it. Once deemed a “difficult or squirrely” buyer by the listing agent, you will often have to jump through more hoops to get the property, if you can get it at all. Give your buyer’s agent enough room to play everything to your best advantage and don’t look at him like he is stupid, if he doesn’t know every answer to every one of your questions “off the top of his head”.