I was in the middle of research for another blog post today when I started seeing a theme online.  There was this confusion between real estate agents and their clients on what a real estate agent actually does and the confusion seemed to come from the side of the real estate agent. It was if real estate agents decided that you were obligated to buy the first house you see.  That’s pretty crazy.  You aren’t obligated to buy the first house you see.  In fact, that hardly ever happens.

Contrary to what I’ve read online, you aren’t obligated to buy the first house you see.  While it’s true that your buyer’s agent may have found you a home that met your criteria, that’s not necessarily the reason to buy a home.

What Is Happening?

My understanding is that real estate agents are being incredibly naive when they express disgust at home buyers who don’t buy a home that meets the criteria they initially set forth.  To me, this is a serious issue.  Real estate agents need to understand that the buyers are going to be living in the house and making a commitment to the payments, not the agent.  Just because a home meets some list of criteria doesn’t mean it is the right house for the buyers.

When Does This Happen?

I suspect that the real estate agents who express disgust at this issue must be very new agents and come from other forms of work.  For example, when you are working as an engineer and ordering products to meet your specifications, of course you want the exact item.  However, finding a perfect home for a home buyer doesn’t meet the bar of a perfect specification.  It’s much more vague.  For example, you may have a home buyer who is convinced that they want a fireplace.  However, after looking at numerous houses and their selling prices, it might just be more reasonable to buy a home without a fireplace.  This really has nothing to do with the real estate agent, and everything to do with the actual home buyer.

Who Is This Happening To?

The best I can tell is going to be people who are easy to take advantage of.  Older home buyers who are downsizing and have cash are going to be easy targets.  First time home buyers are also easy pickings for unscrupulous real estate agents.  Finally, you have home buyers who are looking to move up in home quality who haven’t been in the market for many years and are not current with the marketplace.

When To Walk

Unless you have an executed and written agreement to purchase a home, you aren’t obligated to buy the first house you see.  This is important.  If you have a real estate agent who acts disgusted when you say you don’t like a certain house for whatever reason, you need to move on from that agent.  If you’ve entered into a buyer’s agency agreement, check what the language says.  Again, as long as you don’t have a written agreement to purchase a home, you need to see what the mechanism is to leave the buyer’s agency agreement.  The reason is simple:  You are the one who is ultimately going to live in the home you purchase.

A Buyer’s Agent As A Guide

The mistake some buyer’s agents are making is that they are taking the homebuyers wants too literally.  It’s very easy to set up a search in the multiple listings service that will find basic criteria for a home, but it’s far more difficult to find the RIGHT house that your buyer feels comfortable in.  Let’s use this example.  Let’s say that someone wants to buy a home for sale in 63123.  That’s an easy search.  But what happens when they don’t want to live on a main street?  Well, that ability to search isn’t available in the MLS.  What happens when they want to have 20 feet of space between them and their next neighbor?  Even if you search by lot size, you aren’t going to find a checkbox for distance between houses.  And, that’s the point.  If you are looking to buy a home, you’re going to have to get off the couch.  The process of buying a new home is a journey.  As a real estate agent, you should think of yourself more as a guide than a taskmaster.

An Experienced Real Estate Agent Matters

When I meet with new home buyers,  I’ll ask them what their “must haves” are in a home.   If I were to show buyers what they told me between when they started their search and what they ended up actually buying, they probably wouldn’t believe it.  The main reason why things change for them, in my opinion, is that I try to educate my buyers as we look at all the houses that fit a narrow criteria online but don’t make any sense in the real estate marketplace.  Real estate photos can be deceiving online.  I know, because I also list homes for sale.  We put the best photos possible to list the home, and things that aren’t positive about the home don’t end up in the pictures.

If you have a good working relationship with your real estate agent, you will be comfortable communicating with that person.  And, if you are working with an experienced real estate agent, they are going to have a better chance of putting what you say into what you see in person.  Also, there are times when buyers will get disappointed.  It may be taking too long for them to find house in the neighborhood they want.  An experienced real estate agent has seen the ups and downs buyers go through on their journey: they don’t get down or disappointed.  Keep searching!  There is a house out there that checks all the boxes.  You aren’t obligated to buy the first house that you see, and if your real estate agent tells you otherwise, you need to move on from that agent.