One of the things I’ve noticed about home buyers is that they tend to get hung up on a location first, and then look for something in their price range. As the old saying goes real estate is about location, location, location, so it’s an obvious first step. Unfortunately, getting hung up on a location first might actually slow down the process of actually finding a home. When an area to buy a home in St. Louis becomes too hot, you need to be flexible. There are other neighborhoods!
Question 1, What Areas Do You Want To Live In?
The first question that normally comes up when talking to new home buyers is “what areas do you want to live in?” Usually, there is some sort of logic to the answer. For instance, someone might say they want to be within x minutes of their work. Or, they may have grown up in a particular part of town. There could also be a trend involved. For example, some people want to move into the city, and some want to move to the suburbs. Irrespective of the reason for an area choice, it’s one of the first questions and it normally helps define the search.
Question 2, How Much Do You Want To Spend?
When we ask how much you want to spend, it helps us figure out if the response to question number 1 has any chance of actually happening. Let me explain. Let’s say that Betty Buyer comes into my office and answers question number 1 like this. “I’m looking for a home for sale in Clayton because it’s close to work.” That seems to make perfect sense. It’s when Question 2 is answered where we see the issue. When Betty Buyer answers the question of how much does she want to spend, her answer is, “My budget is $150,000”. What can be purchased in Clayton, Mo for $150,000 in 2019? Not much. Certainly not a 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with a 2 car garage and more than 1500 square feet.
Clarity In The Home Search
Can you see that there are multiple issues with the answer to question 2? Here they are
- It’s going to be tough getting into Clayton at this price range. This is a location issue. It doesn’t look like we are going to get into Clayton at this price range, but can we get somewhere else?
- It’s also an amenities issue. Maybe there is a 1 bedroom condo for sale in Clayton that you can get for 150,000. But that isn’t what the buyer wants. What are we to do?
Adjustments Made In The Search For A New Home
There’s really only a few ways this is going to work out for the buyer and their real estate expert. If your buyer believes that you are a real professional, they will look for your input into different areas where they can get more for their money. If the buyer doesn’t believe you, or doesn’t want to believe you, they will find a new real estate agent that will tell them whatever they want to hear.
I choose to be upfront with people. There’s no joy in working on a real estate search with a buyer that isn’t ever going to buy a house. Some buyers think that there are these secret houses for sale that are priced thousands less than market homes. They think you are hiding them for your favorite clients. That sort of thing makes me laugh. While there are always deals, they are few and far between. When you do actually find one, there’s usually 20 people in front of you waiting to buy.
Buying A New Home Doesn’t Have To Be Complicated
One of the things I see that is kind of interesting is that a home buyer will buy a home ONLY when everything lines up. That is, the house has to be what the buyer is looking for. As an example, when a home buyer is looking for a home for sale in Oakville and they are willing to spend about $250,000 on a ranch style home with a two car garage and an updated kitchen, they will usually be successful. What they want and what the location offers are in line. For Betty Buyer in Clayton, she isn’t going to have a lot of success buying a home because what she wants doesn’t line up with what is available.
It’s kind of funny how two of the first questions lead down the journey to home ownership in St. Louis. You can read guide after guide online, talk to your friends, and talk with other real estate professionals, but the two questions are the quick way to know if what you are looking for in your home search is actually likely to happen.