Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Keep Your Eye On The Big Picture

One of the more interesting aspects of being a Realtor? When people learn what you do for a living, they typically take interest.  

Despite one's housing or financial situation, I find that most people enjoy "real estate talk".  Perhaps they are curious about the current market, trends, comps, or just how much their neighbor's house sold for.  Regardless, most people tend to be friendly and engage immediately.

It is fun and never gets old to me. 

Yesterday, while getting some work done at a local coffee shop, a fellow patron must have overheard a phone call with one of my clients. When I completed my call, he turned to me and asked "So how IS the current real estate market?".  This is a question that I get quite often.  Most people have genuine interest in the real estate climate, as our industry tends to be a direct reflection of the true state of the economy- not the one reported on the news.

His next question, however, really got me thinking: "What is the biggest work obstacle for you at this point?". 

Hmm.  Again, this is a question that I have entertained numerous times over the last 12 years, though it never ceases to amaze me how dramatically the answer has shifted over time.

10 years ago, my answer would have likely referred to the difficulty of obtaining business and trust as someone new to the industry.  7 years ago, my answer would have likely referred to the urgency in which Buyers had to act upon finding "the one", as listings were selling before even advertised.  3 years ago, my answer would have likely addressed how impossible some banks made foreclosure deals and/or the struggle Sellers faced with decrease in equity, financial means, and number of Buyers.
These are the facts about the current market:

  • Appraisals remain conservative at times. 
  • Obtaining financing can still be tricky. 
  • Inspection negotiation has grown increasingly complex.
  • Distressed Sellers do not have a lot of equity or room to work with. 
  • People are still a tad nervous about the economy, particularly with the recent government shutdown and talks of the "debt ceiling".  
Is it possible to successfully navigate through these market factors?  ABSOLUTELY.  In fact, rates are still good, Sellers have recouped some equity, and there are still GREAT buys to be had!  While the deals can be a tad tricky at times and require a little more care, this remains a decent market for both Sellers AND Buyers!

With some serious thought, my answer to his question is none of those things though is related to ALL of those things...

My biggest obstacle?  In this market, it has become increasingly difficult to get Buyers AND Sellers to remain focused on the big picture: the legal transfer of a property from one party to the next.  

In navigating the current market condition that I mentioned earlier, it is crucial that a Buyer AND Seller try not to allow their emotions to get the best of them. In the heat of a complicated financing or negotiation process, that may be difficult at times. 

While not always successful, I try to urge my clients to resist the temptation of diving into the all-too-common  "I am going to win" mode.  Buyers need to remain realistic.  Sellers need to maintain an open mind.

Emotion is the single most tricky obstacle to overcome in this market, in my opinion. Reactions like  "Who does this Buyer think he IS?" or "This Seller is  unreasonable" tend to be more common in a somewhat strained economy, due to the additional bumps in the road.  A lack of focus on the big picture of the involved parties- Buyer and/or Seller- has resulted in the demise of a number of deals for me over the last 12 months, unfortunately.     


BUYERS:  Do you want this house?  Do you REALLY want this house?  Is it "the one"? Are you willing to compromise on some things to ensure it indeed becomes "the one"?

SELLERS:  Are you ready to move?  Do you NEED to sell?  Are you willing to risk this Buyer terminating the contract and perhaps not successfully obtaining another one for some time?  

FACT: a sale or purchase of a property is a business transaction and the focus should be on BUSINESS.  I find that the most successful and least stressful deals for ALL parties involved are those in which both parties remain level-headed and keep their eye on the big picture: the successful transfer of a piece of property from one party to the next.

Allow your Realtor to keep the details in check, which in all honesty, is allowing them to do their job.  Interview and be picky when choosing representation, but then TRUST and listen to their professional advice and guidance.  Try not to take things personally.  Remember that this is a business transaction- numbers matter and do not lie.  Accept that there are some things that are out of our control but typically nothing that we can't troubleshoot as long as all parties involved remain calm and focused on the big picture. Remember that we are not privy to the minute details of the party on the other side of the transaction, nor SHOULD we be.  Most importantly, remember...

This very much applies to real estate, as well.  A week, month, 6 months, a year after closing... the little stuff will no longer matter.  Let it go and focus on the BIG PICTURE- the happily ever after in your gorgeous new house!