I have been in the business of helping people buy and sell their homes for over 34 years.
When I began back in the 80s, we did not have the internet, in fact, we did not have computers. The real estate business was all done face to face. Offers were written and presented by driving to the office of the listing agent and presented in person; negotiations were done around a table; closings were done with the buyer and seller sitting across the table from each other and everyone shook hands when keys were exchanged. Listings were printed in a book each week the size of an old phone book. The process of purchasing a home could take months to complete, not days.
Today’s real estate is an entirely different business. Technology has allowed much of a transaction to be completed electronically, without ever meeting the other party involved. It is quick and impersonal. For the most part, that is a good thing; especially with the amount of paperwork and information that is required to process a transaction.
One area that I feel it is important to take your time and sit-down face to face with your client is when you are conducting a buyer’s consultation. Whether it is a first time home buyer or a person that has bought and sold before, I request a meeting with my buyers to discuss their expectations.
Home buying can be a very overwhelming experience with extremely stressful situations. The paperwork and information is constantly changing and evolving with time and experience. Information is available online for everyone to research on their own which tends to provide false expectations, and misguided consumers thinking they know everything they need to represent themselves.
First time home buyers have no idea what is involved in a real estate transaction. My first question to a buyer is, “have you ever done this before?” If they say, “no”, I say, “great! You are my favorite type of client and by the time we close, you will know more than the average realtor.”
My buyer’s consultations usually last between 2-3 hours and typically take place in a coffee shop. I find that it is more comfortable to meet close to the client’s home and in an environment that is welcoming and fairly quiet. I bring a copy of the Representation agreement, a copy of a Purchase Agreement, Agency Disclosures, and all the other disclosures and advisories that a buyer will need to sign when they are ready to purchase a property. I take all the time I need to go through the paperwork and answer any questions that my clients can think of. I do not take them out to look at properties the first time we meet. It is important to get to know each other, talk about what is important to them, explain the process, and set expectations.
Looking at houses is the easy part. Building a relationship with your client and sharing your expertise will create a bond that will make the experience less stressful and more enjoyable for your client. A buyer’s consultation is the first step in building that bond and setting the bar for the rest of the transaction. It is the most important step that you should never skip!