The Golden Rule

Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.

Ah, the Golden Rule. Treat others as you would like to be treated. A thread common to all the world’s religions. Tough to argue with it, then.

… or so you’d think.

And yet, people are greedy. Some sellers cling on to their properties and aren’t willing to adjust their expectations as the market falls. In same vein, buyers, emboldened by the recent dip, feel comfortable submitting low-ball offers (despite advice to the contrary) and are baffled when sellers can’t be bothered to even counter. It’s as if they can’t understand why anyone would be insulted.

What we’re seeing a lot of right now are sellers either de-listing their properties if they do not sell or electing to rent them out (rents have not fallen as prices have done); sellers are playing the waiting game and have the patience to wait until the market picks back up instead of feeling like they are selling at a loss. Moreover, corrections are already built-into list prices and it’s been my experience that sellers are expecting offers at/very near list price.

Ultimately, as I tell my clients: You may not agree with the market, but it is never wrong. Remember that the perfect property, in perfect condition in the perfect location will never sell for less than fair market value. Hope and low-balling are not wise strategies for potential buyers to rely upon when submitting offers. 

There’s no point in working with a licensed realtor if you then elect not to listen to their advice, especially during the offer process.

Have your financial house in order.

All buyers are encouraged to do their homework ahead of time and know their limit with respect to mortgage qualification. Know that exact number and then ask yourself if you are comfortable spending that much on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis; if not, don’t spend up to your limit. Simple as that, really. Best to reflect on all of this well ahead of the offer process – what you don’t want is to find yourself hesitating at the moment of submitting an offer. That’s when you need to be most confident. 

All this is to say – be very candid with yourself and your Realtor when discussing budget limits. There’s very little point in looking at or considering properties listed far outside of your budget. Stop wasting everyone’s time; it’ll only end in disappointment. Instead, stay grounded and consider properties only within budget.

Keep an open mind.

More stern advice? You’re really laying it on thick today…

Sorry – not trying to be an overbearing parent. But listen-up, anyway (you’re so close to the end, you might as well).

Yes, keep an open mind. While it’s helpful as buyer to have a keen sense of ‘must-haves’, being inflexible on property type, size, features and location, etc., will only limit your choices all while forcing you to be more competitive should you decide to submit an offer. Desirable properties are desirable, after all. 

Don’t assume or aim to end up in your “forever home” as a first-time homebuyer. Instead, accept the market reality that it’ll take a couple of moves until you can reasonably afford the type of home in which you really want to settle and grow roots. Buy what you can, build equity and move up from there. Repeat. Take the ego out of it; avoid the trap of turning your nose up at more modestly-priced properties. After all, having champagne taste of a beer budget never ends well. 

It’s the total cost that should be used to compare properties.

Last, remember to take into account all costs associated with a property – not just the purchase price; replacement, maintenance, furnishing, taxes and commuting costs tend to be after-thoughts despite how much they contribute to monthly running costs. My advice: take a more fulsome approach when evaluating and comparing properties – is less really less? Is more, less; less, more? Think about it. Spreadsheets* are useful tools here. 

… but not for too long or someone else’s offer will be accepted. That’s why it’s so important to be organized – and treat others as you would like to be treated.

*HINT: Ask me about spreadsheets and how they’ll help paint a clearer picture when trying to choose between properties.

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