As a real estate broker in St. Louis, new home buyers ask me this question all the time. I don’t know if I’ve ever really come up with a good answer. As with most things, it depends.
Shortest time you’ve ever helped a buyer?
I can say that 3 times, the first time I showed a new buyer a home, they bought the first house I showed. I don’t know if it’s luck or what. Here are the scenarios and maybe you can glean something from them that I can’t.
Buyer Number 1
Buyer number 1 was downsizing from a single family home to a condo. She wanted to buy a condo with a garage to store her things and also be on the first floor. Note to builders in St. Louis. I come across many condo buyers who want garages for their cars, and there aren’t a lot of condos that have this amenity. Consider adding them to your new development plans and prepare to be amazed at the amount of condo buyers you will have. Anyway, I knew where all the condos are in St. Louis County are that have the garages, but there were only a few units available, and none on the first floor. Our first showings were scheduled along Lemay Ferry and Forder, and the first condo my buyer saw was the one that she decided to buy.
Buyer Number 2
Buyer number 2 came to an open house I held in house springs. I’ve had elite real estate agents tell me time and time again that open houses aren’t for the benefit of the seller. Only benefit is the real estate agent gets to meet potential buyers in the open house. Well, that is wrong. It’s wrong because I sold a house to a buyer on the first house they looked at which happened to be the open house. The buyers walked in the house and immediately they wanted to buy the house. They had been turned down on credit by their credit union but I had a lender who worked with them closely and they were approved to buy the house. Open houses are good for agents, sellers, buyers, I don’t understand why more real estate agents won’t hold them.
Buyer Number 3
I had a buyer who was interested in living a certain driving distance from the children’s school. When I looked through the list of potential homes for sale on my multiple listing service(MLS), there was one house that kept jumping out at me. This isn’t unusual, but even I know the odds someone will buy a house on the first home they see is not the norm. Well, I put that house in a list with 4 others for the night. By the time we left the first house, my buyer was asking my why we should even bother to look at others. I kind of agreed with him. But, I told him that we needed to look at a few houses just to be sure this was the house my buyer wanted.
Longest time you’ve ever helped a buyer?
Well, that would be two and a half years. I had a couple that couldn’t figure out what part of town they wanted to live in, and then they couldn’t figure out how much they wanted to spend on their new home(They could afford up to a half million). After a while, it was pretty clear they didn’t want to live in St. Charles. Then they eliminated St. Louis City. It was down to Jefferson County and St. Louis County and the wife said no to Jefferson County. Finally we had a location from which to work. After that, it was a question of finding the right house at the right price, which wasn’t easy because at the time they decided their preferred location, it was the middle of the summer sale silliness where there were multiple bids on many homes that didn’t exactly warrant them. Finally, the week before Christmas, 2018, they put in an offer to purchase a home in South County. They are thrilled with their purchase.
As you might imagine, my approach is that it is important for the buyer to choose their home without any sort of pressure from me. I don’t look at myself as someone who is going to sell your new home. We are going to look at homes you want to see, and you are going to learn about pricing decisions so that when the house you want does appear, you will be ready. I’ve decided that this is the best way to purchase homes in St. Louis. It has to come from the buyer with the assistance of the agent, not some sort of manufactured sales “push”.