The stories are real. The names, addresses and prices have been hidden to protect the identities of the people involved.
So there I was. Friends of mine called me up and said one of my FAVOURITE sentences:
“We are ready to buy our first house AND we would like you to help us.”
YES! We arranged to sit down together and talk about the whole fun process of home buying in a Buyer Consultation. When they got there, we went through it all, from the first steps of getting pre-approved with a lender to the online search criteria to what would happen when we narrowed it down to THE house.
And this couple was EXCITED! We set up an appointment to see a few homes in their price range in a few areas, including downtown Guelph.
I didn’t have time to preview any of the homes on our list, so I would be seeing them for the first time as well. And one of them was a rental. As a real estate agent, I can tell you that the 80/20 rule applies everywhere and DEFINITELY applies to rental units. 20% of the units in my experience have been FABULOUS and the tenants take great care of them. 80% of the units in my experience are simply lacking that extra oomph that comes with pride of ownership and buyers notice.
The first house we saw was not part of the 20%. It was ALSO not part of the 80%. This would be the VERY first house we saw on their home buying journey and to say it was a poor choice would be a MASSIVE understatement.
When we walked in, the front porch was a little dirty. And a little damaged. No worry. It was an older home. Surely we could look past this. Once inside, the layout was crooked…actually. And a tenant walked over to us (when we knocked, no one had answered so we used the lockbox key).
“Oh, hello there. I am a REALTOR(R) and we have a showing right now.”
“Yeah, that’s cool.” He walked away.
Okay then…we continued on.
The tenant had been engaging in some activities right before we got there. And he left his bong and lighter on the coffee table in the living room, along with a lot of dirty laundry. Underwear included.
We kept going. The kitchen was worse than the living room.
There were dishes piled in the sink with food on them and an over flowing garbage and a cat roamed freely. The litter box smell had told us that there WAS a cat and we finally saw it. Kind of like a relief. But different.
My clients faces showed the horror and shock they were feeling. This, after all, was NOTHING like the home buying shows they had watched – nor was it anything like any house they themselves had EVER been in. One could say that their expectations were different than the reality we were experiencing.
The rest of the home was slightly better as far as debris and dirt but slightly worse as far as structural stability and quality. The fact that the house remained standing the ENTIRE time we were there AND after we left was actually quite impressive to all three of us LOL.
We left and saw some more homes but nothing really “worked for them”. Life experiences changed things for them, but it’s hard to say if that first home was really SO bad that it threw them off course. At present, we are trying to find something NEXT Spring for my awesome buyer clients. *fingers crossed*
LESSONS I LEARNED
- When your buyers want to see homes, preview them if you can. If you know one or more is a rental, make sure it’s kept up and if not, prepare your clients for this possibility.
- If you know there are a few “mystery homes” on your client tour, put them closer to the middle so that they don’t risk souring the whole experience for your clients.
- When you initially sit down with clients, gauge their motivation with the right questions such as timeline, budget and specifics
- When you get to a house, always knock/ring the bell first AND when you’re inside, yell out a greeting JUST in case
- Be honest with your clients. If you haven’t seen the house first, that’s okay. If you notice the wall looks crooked, it’s literally your JOB to tell them
- Keep in touch and always listen. My clients chose not to buy that year and it came down to not being ready and not finding something they loved enough to lock into a mortgage. I still reach out and am excited to hear all that happens in their lives because it’s about the relationships we build.