The YES, NO, MAYBE tour for relocating buyers

I invented this back when I was doing a lot of relocation work for Coldwell Banker on the East Coast.  I thought Dustin and Anna might like to try it when looking at homes in California.  It comes in very handy when you are touring a lot of homes the first day in a new area.

It’s pretty simple.  You each have three little cards (kind of like Richard Simmons’ Deal a Meal – yes, it was that long ago when I came up with this.) One card says YES, one says NO and the other says MAYBE.  You can only use ONE card in each house.  Anna has a set and Dustin has his own set. 

At each house you are not allowed to say a word to one another until you make your selection from the three cards.  If you are touring homes with an agent, you hand her one of the cards as soon as you know your answer, not how you think your spouse will feel about the house.  Since there is a MAYBE card, this should be a fairly quick procedure for most people.  If the agent gets handed two NO cards as soon as they walk in the front door, you can all get back in the car.  Unless the owner is home, in which case you do a “pity” pass through.  Easier than saying we already know we hate this house.

If you have all NO cards played at the end of the day, what you don’t like is your price range, and you may have to go back to your new employer and say, “what you offered to pay me is not enough to live here”.  If you have three YES houses where you both said YES, you may as well toss out the MAYBE houses and go back at the end of the day to the three YES houses and spend more time in them.  I usually ask people to rank their YES choices as they go.  First YES, no ranking.  Second YES, you have to label one #1 and the other #2.  This way if you have 7 yes houses at the end, you can go back to #1, #2 and #3. 

Why did I feel the need to invent this system?  Can’t people know if they like a house without a little card? 

Here’s why. 

1) Sometimes the relocated spouse feels guilty about making the family move and says “Whatever my sweetie wants will be fine with me” until it is time to sign the contract and wants to offer 80% of asking price.  That’s called saying yes and meaning no.  It’s a passive/aggressive thing some people do 🙂

2) The wife walks in first and starts saying things like, “well, we could take this wall down over here and we could add a master bathroom…”, take it from experience, that’s a NO.  Before they start arguing over how they are going to afford the time and money to do all of that stuff…get a NO card and GET OUT!  Otherwise they will be crying and fighting before you get to house number 4.

3) When they both hand me a YES card and find out that the other party agrees, they can move through the house really evaluating whether or not they should actually buy it, instead of discussing whether or not the other likes it.  And you will be amazed at how happy they both are when you tell them they both said YES.  Sometimes one spouse is afraid to say they like the house because they don’t want the other spouse to buy it just because THEY like it.  It is a great moment when they both hand over a YES card.

Of course the client that keeps handing me all three cards at every house drives me nuts 🙂  Some people just don’t like to be pinned down.

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ARDELL is a Managing Broker with Better Properties METRO King County. ARDELL was named one of the Most Influential Real Estate Bloggers in the U.S. by Inman News and has 33+ years experience in Real Estate up and down both Coasts, representing both buyers and sellers of homes in Seattle and on The Eastside. email: cell: 206-910-1000

22 thoughts on “The YES, NO, MAYBE tour for relocating buyers

  1. I am looking for simple answers to (I think!) simple questions. I’m beginning to get frustrated because no one seems able to answer directly. Therefore, I’m on a realtors blog asking, please:

    What, if any, are the laws governing the MLS in WA State?

    Is it legal to list a property for a couple months under one MLS#, take it off the realty site for a week or so then put it back on that same realty site or others under a different MLS#, with new pictures, new price and new MLS#.

    I see this happening more and more in the past few months. Is it legal?

  2. It is not illegal, as in against a law of Washington State. Any seller can decide to take his property off the market for a week and then change his mind and put it back on the market with a new price and new pictures. There is also no law against an agent suggesting that someone take a property off the market and bring it back later with new pictures and a new price.

    Agents have access to seeing the whole stream of events of a property listing, going back for several years. I remember seeing a house listed as “new on market” on one of the newer websites, thinking to myself “in your dreams” as that house had been on and off market for three years without a bite. That is the danger of websites that boldly state the number of days on market, which is often erroneous.

    That brings us to the last issue, which is the mls#. Over the years agents have often withdrawn and relisted property to update the listing number, especially in the beginning of a new year. Listing numbers 2500000 are from 2005 and listing numbers 26000000 are from 2006.

    Now this is not a LAW, but I do remember the mls posting on our agent access site that an agent was “no longer allowed” to pull a listing and put it back in just to update the mls#. That being said, I have seen some doing it, especially back in January.

    Sounds like you may have made a decision based on what you thought were “days on market” only to find that those days were much longer than the current listing indicated.

    When people ask me how long it has been on market, I never look at the days on market on the printout. I always do a full property history of the listing. Though some clients get annoyed when I don’t just read the Day On Market listed on the sheet.

    Reducing a price and putting in new photos is clearly a good way to “refresh” a “tired” listing. That is marketing. In fact it is “good” marketing.

    I strongly recommend that some of the newer, fancy dancy, Robbie loves them sites should take out that “new on market in the last 7 days” button. You can see from “wondering’s” dismay, that this is something a consumer may believe they can rely on, and clearly cannot.

  3. Ardell,

    Oddly enough you see this phenomena on Craigslist too. If something doesn’t sell, the seller re-posts it and it moves to the top of the newness filter. It’s an effective marketing tactic. (I’m sure it happens on Ebay, Monster and other electronic marketplaces too).

    I can’t speak for most buyers, but days on the market isn’t a major criteria I use to determine if I want to buy a house. If a house isn’t a good value, it doesn’t matter to me if it’s been on the market 1day or 1 year. Because if the house was a good value, it would’ve sold already.

  4. Ardell-

    Thankyou SO MUCH for your explanations. I have been watching the Seatle market since winter on the different realtor web sites and started to notice this phenomenon of more and more properties being re-listed and presented as !!!NEW ON MARKET!!!

    When I’d ask realtors about it I’d get very evasive answers like “No never happens” (which was obviously not true) to “”it’s just a mistake” (which made me wonder how competent can somebody be if they can’t manage a simple computer listing correctly!)

    Lately, this has been happening more and more (tired properties -as you call them-presented as new) and I started feeling really jerked around by never getting a straightforward answer.

    From what I can see, the Seatle market is cooling somewhat. The evasiveness made me feel it was perhaps even more than what I could see from observing the MLS. Like people were beginning to feel they really needed to cover something up.

    Thankyou very much Ardell. That is all I ever wanted was an honest answer .

  5. Watching and Wondering. This year there was a glitch in the system that created the phenomenon” you observed. There was also a change in the mls system and a change in the rules. All of these combined, created the oddities you were observing, rather than a “cooling off” of the market.”

    Anytime the mls changes something, it creates some “fallout” as agents learn about the new rule and adjust. The mls changed to “cumulative” days on market. The mls made a new rule that agents couldn’t cancel and re-list to change the number. Then the mls had a glitch in the system the first week in January.

    If you listed a house on December 20th, you would get a 25000000. Most agents want to trade that in for a 26000000 number come January 1. This is nothing new. Many agents won’t list a property until after January 1 for this reason, especially now that there is a new rule that you can’t get the number updated.

    To make matters worse, creating what you observed, when all of the agents who waited until after January 1 entered the properties, the mls had a glitch in the system that gave them 25000000 sequence numbers. I think that glitch lasted a few days into the beginning of 2006. All of those listings were then re-assigned new numbers because of the error, not because they were tired and stale. So if you were observing all of this in January, you were correct that something strange was going on. But only agents who entered listings in the first few days of the year may have even noticed.

  6. ARDELL – I think this is the most amazing system – I am goign to implement it for certain buyers because it would just be perfect for me! I just went through this over the weekend and rather than try to read minds, it might be easier! You are a peach!

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