“Why are they selling?” is one of the most frequent questions buyers ask me. Sometimes the answer is obvious. The listing or state records indicate an estate sale, a relocation or a recent divorce. Other times, we can’t be entirely sure.
Why are buyers interested in the sellers’ reason for selling? It could be because they are merely curious. A more likely reason is that they are suspicious. “If this is such a nice home why are they selling?”
Skepticism and even distrust are not limited to a buyer. A seller may be curious about a buyer’s circumstances that go beyond the buyer’s financial wherewithal. As a real estate agent, I need to navigate these channels of curiosity carefully.
FALSE: Real estate is all about matching buyers and sellers
This is a frequent statement in articles and blogs about residential real estate. Of course, it is also utter nonsense. It may sound like a good idea to have sellers and buyers meet, discuss the merits of the home and open up about their personal lives. More often, what’s being said casually may be taken for certainty and later become a source of conflict. Negotiating positions may be unnecessarily revealed and weakened. What sounds good in the name of transparency and the can’t-we-all-get-along mentality ignores the fact that seller and buyer are not on the same team.
TRUE: Real estate is about matching a buyer with a property.
Seller and buyer have different objectives. The buyer seeks to find out as much as possible about a home. The seller aims to portray the home in the best possible light. Emotions can run high on both sides. It is for good reasons that the seller should be absent while the buyer tours the home. The buyer’s comments may appear insulting to the seller. Foremost for the seller is to sell at the highest possible price. The buyer, on the other hand, wants to pay as little as possible.
Not dating but Negotiating
My job is to find the property that fits the buyer’s budget and lifestyle. This can take days but more likely it will take weeks. I know the basic facts and background when we visit each home. When the buyer likes a property enough to write an offer, I start to dig deeper. To get the home for the lowest price, it is helpful to know the seller’s circumstances. How long has the seller owned the home? What’s the current mortgage balance? Why are they selling?
I’m not completely opposed to having my buyer meet the seller. I may encourage it if something useful can be gleaned about the home or the seller. We may learn that there were no permits obtained for the spacious addition. We may find out that the seller is leaving shortly to go on the cruise of a lifetime – the kind of knowledge that may give us an advantage in negotiating.
Happy sellers and happy buyers
Real estate is not about matching buyers with sellers. Their lives intersect briefly to negotiate a transaction. A successful outcome is when seller and buyer go their separate ways, both satisfied with the outcome. Whether I represent a buyer or a seller – that’s what I like to see.