Confessions of a Real Estate Agent:

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Open Houses: a Poaching Tool
“If I were selling my own home, I would do an open house to get everyone in and out the door at the same time for convenience sake. But some realtors will hold open houses for the purpose of getting clients. Typically, agents that do open houses are either newer agents who need to find clients, or they do it because it’s what the seller wants,” says Sara.

Open Houses: a Poaching Tool

“If I were selling my own home, I would do an open house to get everyone in and out the door at the same time for convenience sake. But some realtors will hold open houses for the purpose of getting clients. Typically, agents that do open houses are either newer agents who need to find clients, or they do it because it’s what the seller wants,” says Sara.

She tells me that these agents ask buyers to sign in, then use the phone numbers to solicit business. “So if you don’t want an agent to harass you, don’t put your number in the open house registry. They will tell you the seller requires everyone to sign in, so just put your name and not your number.”

Don’t Back Yourself Into a Corner

Sara says that you must anticipate eleventh-hour issues that could delay settlement. “If you’re scheduled to settle a certain day, give yourself a one week buffer to account for anything that might go wrong. Sometimes settlement doesn’t even happen on the day it’s scheduled to happen. Sometimes the lender hasn’t gotten their financing together or the seller hasn’t moved all their stuff out. You have to be in the position to move around those obstacles.” She says if you must endure any last-minute negotiations, the seller can be pretty inflexible when your moving van is sitting in front of the house.

Don’t Always Listen to Your Parents

Sara says, “Parents mean well, but they don’t always give the best advice.” She tells the story of a financially responsible couple who got pre-approved for a mortgage well within their means. They found a house they loved and their offer was accepted. When they called their parents with the good news, they got a nasty surprise.

Sara says, “Their parents freaked out. They told them they were crazy and they couldn’t afford the mortgage payments, that they’d never be able to repay the debt. So the couple came to me the next day and said, ‘We have to get out of the contract.’ The couple had put $20,000 earnest money down, which was their life savings and their parents were trying to talk them into walking away. I almost hurled when I thought about them losing all their money.”

Sara reviewed their finances with them again, and urged them to sleep on it. The couple agreed to take the time to think about it. “They came back the next morning and said, ‘Okay, okay, we decided we don’t want out.’ They were like, ‘Wait a minute, we’re not dumb, we ran the numbers, and all our friends are doing this.’ I saw them a year later and the guy came up to me and said, ‘We love our house and I am so glad you talked us out of walking away, and I can’t believe we were listening to mom and dad.’”

She advises buyers, “Be leery of taking advice from anyone who doesn’t live locally, since markets differ so much geographically. You can listen to mom and dad, but keep in mind they aren’t experts in the real estate market.”

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