Be the Best Buyer You Can Be

When it comes to making the biggest purchase of your life, a lack of experience and strong emotions can get in the way. Here are a few tips to be the best buyer you can be.

Be Persistent

Start by setting realistic expectations. It’s rare that the first house you see will be the one you purchase, so set aside time to view several properties. Try not to get discouraged when you don’t find what you want immediately. Communicate with your Realtor, so they know what your needs are, and when a new house comes on the market, go look at it! Once you find your dream home, if your first offer isn’t accepted, submit another. Persistence is the name of the game.

Right now, the housing supply is down by about a third as compared to a few months ago, and spring is right around the corner when the housing market heats up. Also, interest rates are down from their recent peak, so more buyers are entering the pool. What does all this mean? Now is the time to purchase–and if you’re going to find something, you need to be out there looking.

Keep Your Emotions in Check

It’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement of buying a home, but some things require a detached, rational approach—like being realistic about what you can afford. It’s easy to keep increasing your maximum budget when you see the amenities that come with higher price tags, but you’ll be much better off if you buy within your means.

Sure, a five-bedroom house with a view of valley and an Olympic pool would be great, but the three-bedroom house with a fenced yard for will serve you well. Make a list of must-haves and a separate list of would-likes. Refer to these lists when you feel your emotions pulling at you.

You also need to keep your emotions in check when it’s time to negotiate. If your offer is rejected, don’t take it as a personal insult. This is a business transaction, and each side is trying to maximize their advantage.

Remain Open Minded

Emotions can derail your negotiations. They can also limit your ability to see all the options available. Let’s say you have your heart set on moving into the El Dorado subdivision, but there isn’t a house on the market that meets your needs. Rather than throwing up your hands, consider looking in Deerwood or Rogina Heights. There’s no telling when someone in El Dorado will move and if you wait too long, the market may pass you by.

Ask Questions

Anytime something isn’t perfectly clear, ask your Realtor to clarify. In many cases, your Realtor will have the information you need. And for those questions that fall outside their scope, your Realtor can refer you to the appropriate expert, be that a real estate lawyer, a lender, or a building contractor.

Don’t Let First Impressions Scare You

If you have concerns about a property, share them with your Realtor. Realtors can reach out to their contacts to help you determine whether the issues are substantial or easy to overcome. A friend of mine mentioned that when she first toured her house, it had two turquoise bathrooms and a purple bathroom. It also had carpet that would have been very stylish in the late 1970s. She started to dismiss the place, but lucky for her, her husband had done construction and knew that paint is cheap and carpet is easy to replace.

If a home is not in perfect condition but it meets most of your needs, it might make sense to adjust your budget to make room for a few changes that bring the home to the standard you would like.

Be Flexible and Available

If you’re house hunting, especially as the market tightens, you’ve got to be available to look at properties when they’re available to be seen. I appreciate that it may not be convenient to leave work at 3:00 pm, but you may need to ask your supervisor for a little flexibility. If you limit the time you can see properties to two hours per week, you may not see all the properties available. If you’re only available to view properties on the weekends, you may miss those who won’t show their properties then.

If you have questions about property management or real estate, please contact me at or call (707) 462-4000. If you have an idea for a future column, share it with me and if I use it, I’ll send you a $25 gift certificate to Schat’s Bakery.

Dick Selzer is a real estate broker who has been in the business for more than 45 years.

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