You’ve been thinking about moving for a while, and are sensing that 2017 is going to be your year.  What can you expect from the sales process?

We already know that to buy a house, you need four things:

  1.  Right house
  2.  Right price
  3.  Right seller
  4.  Right listing agent

How hard can it be? Won’t agents be helpful?

We know that most agents don’t sell enough homes – half of them haven’t sold anything in the last year – and that bumbling incompetence is everywhere.  In most cases, they literally don’t know how to get out of their own way.

Here’s what you can expect to happen:

  • Seeing houses won’t be convenient for you, they will be convenient for the sellers and listing agents. Last weekend I had two different agents tell me I couldn’t show their listing because their assistant was out-of-town, and many want a 24-hour notice to show vacant houses.
  • When you hear that a seller is motivated, it means that they are motivated to get their price.  They’re not going to give it away!
  • Have questions about the property or the process?  Rarely can you get a straight answer. Agents think they might give something away, so they specialize in vague responses so no one can pin them down later.
  • If you do make an offer, don’t be surprised if you don’t get a timely response. All offers have an expiration date, but it is regularly ignored because listing agents think you will put up with anything.
  • Expect a counter-offer. It is extremely rare that a seller will accept your offer outright – mostly because the listing agent feels they have to tweak it, just to say they did something.
  • It won’t matter how many hundreds of thousands – or millions – of dollars the seller stand to profit at your offer price, they will want more.  It will get ridiculous too, probably down to a difference of 1% to 2%, and everyone will just expect you to pay it.  Heck, every other buyer has.
  • The dickering won’t be just about price either.  The last time the listing agent had a buyer, they remember getting beat up on every term, so this is their chance for revenge.  I just had a listing agent counter over the home-warranty company on a million-dollar deal.
  • Don’t expect to move in to the house once the sale has closed.  The seller will need time to vacate, and that becomes your problem.  They will expect at least a few free days to gather up their stuff, or they will want to rent back for weeks or months at a below-market rate.  And no security deposit either – it’s not like they are a tenant or anything.
  • Repairs? You expect repairs for the outrageous price you paid? Fat chance the seller will agree to do much, and if they do repairs, they will cut corners.
  • Close on time? The buyer will be expected to close on time, unless the seller doesn’t feel like it. I saw one where the seller – who was an agent – refused to move out of the home because her new one wasn’t finished yet, and she made the buyer close the deal and stay in a hotel for a week-plus.

It’s been a seller’s market for so long now that agents think there will always be another buyer; so if you don’t like the way they treat you, too bad.  Unfortunately, the inventory is so low that buyers are more likely to endure, rather than object.  Usually the agents don’t intend to be so unappreciative, they just don’t know any better.

Enjoy your beating!

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