Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Smoke and Mirrors- choose your Buyer Agent wisely!

My new client, a corporate relocation from the Northwest, seeks a historic home in South City. When this property rolled across my laptop screen through our search, I found myself sucked in to the beauty...
I have never denied the fact that I am an old house lover.  Needless to say, this property made me swoon.

Late 19th century with the perfect balance of original architectural integrity and modern day amenities. *clutching my heart*  Period fixtures, perfectly preserved woodwork in the original state, lovely original stains, carvings galore, unpainted pocket doors that function, historic murals, new kitchen designed to be in line with the original aesthetic, perfectly functioning original trim-adorned triple-sash windows leading out to a balcony (SO VERY RARE ), original clawfoot, stunning century old marble, a sizable detached garage, fenced lot, etc.  The works!

St. Louis, you never cease to seduce me with your beautiful historic architecture and a sincere "Bravo!" to a Homeowner who leaves the original goodies untouched.💓

All of this for only $350K.  My client immediately responded to the MLS auto-search email and wanted to see it ASAP as it was the perfect match on paper. That being said, after doing my homework as a Buyer's agent (further down in post)... my client chose not to tour the property after all  So leads into the discussion of the difference between the role of a Listing Agent and a Buyer Agent.

Most Realtors in St. Louis work with Buyers and Sellers.  While most of us have our personal preference, we balance both sides of the business.  That being said, these two distinct roles utilize very different professional skill sets!

A Listing agent's job is to make a property shine, to emphasize the jewel features of a home to draw Buyers in and make it a must-see!  When representing a Seller, a Realtor's role is to help our client thoroughly prepare the property and then market it in a way to make a Buyer react emotionally and fall in love.

The goal is seduction, smoke and mirrors: Gorgeous photos, flowers, strategically placed accessories and scents, fresh paint.  Staging is about manipulating a Buyer, drawing their eye towards what you want them to see, and causing them to react emotionally. Welcome home, fall in love, plant your roots, live happily-ever-after in this wonderful home rather than focusing on the cost and logistics of the purchase.

The agent for the property above did a stellar job!  Lovely professional photography with the right closeups allowing the original architectural goodies to sell themselves and a thoughtful description. It sold me, that is for sure!

So why did my Buyer choose not to visit?  I expediently sent him what I found "behind the curtain"

This photo angle was not used in the marketing of this listing for a reason.

My Buyer is primarily focused on resale as he does not know definitively how long he will be in St. Louis.  The Golden Rule of Real Estate to ensure a profitable resale regardless of the current market conditions or financial climate?  Location, location, location.  FACT: Close proximity to a noisy highway and/or a multi-unit building can negatively affect resale in most neighborhoods in St. Louis. Upon receiving these screenshots, he swiftly changed his mind.

I feel compelled to say that there is a Buyer for every property on the MLS and I purposely protected the location of this one so as not to negatively affect the Seller's efforts.  Some Buyers aren't as focused on location. Sometimes the price or features of a property make up for the location deficiencies for certain Buyers.   Priorities vary from client to client.  That being said, in this case, I did what I felt necessary to protect my client and he thanked me profusely. Either way, it is about making an informed decision and purchase!

In my opinion, this scenario perfectly summarizes the importance of Buyer's agent representation. Buyers: interview and choose wisely! Your representation is free of cost to you, paid for by the Seller in St. Louis, though you should still be picky.  You are trusting this Realtor with your money and financial well-being.  Choose carelessly and it will cost you!

Be clear about your purchase priorities:

  • What you want versus what you need.  
  • Your future goals and plans for this property.  
  • Your future concerns that you wish to avoid. 
  • Your preferences and expectations as far as agent guidance. 
Then ask yourself: 

  • Is this agent focused on making a quick buck commission or are they focused on ensuring that I make a smart buy?  
  • Do I trust this Realtor's knowledge of the inventory and local market?  
  • Have I asked for several professional referrals and followed through by contacting them?
  • Do I trust that this agent not only has the knowledge, but the strength and professional integrity to advise me against making a financial mistake? 

My rule of thumb when acting as a Buyer's agent?  Warn a client if I would be nervous to purchase the property for myself and make them aware of possible future resale obstacles.

I view a Buyer's agent role as an investigator.  I also take my plight to maximize future profit-potential seriously. Just as I did above, I must remain level-headed and remove my own rose-colored glasses to see through the Listing Agent's seduction techniques and reveal the facts accurately to my clients.  When a Buyer reacts emotionally, and they should when they finally find "the one", I have to remain grounded throughout the transaction to ensure favorable negotiation on their behalf.

If there are elements of a property that will directly affect resale, particularly external or functional obsolescence, I let it be known.  Not to say that my advice is always taken, it isn't, but this practice allows me to sleep at night while enabling my Buyer to make an informed purchase.  It also gives me peace of mind that when a client contacts me down the road to sell the property...  they are well-aware of the possible obstacles and hopefully have a huge profit margin ahead!

Often times, a home is a Buyer's future retirement, their nest egg.  Do not hand the responsibility of protecting that to just anyone without doing your homework first, friends.  It will cost you dearly!

For this client, I am back to the drawing board...