Real Estate

A homebuyer’s shopping guide

By From page C2 | February 03, 2012

My wife Vicki has banished me from grocery shopping with her. We are no longer compatible. To her shopping is like an archeological adventure. Her map is the weekly advertised specials. She journeys up and down each aisle of the store frequently checking her list until she discovers the location of the item. Then she carefully examines the contents, evaluating its weight, ingredients and grams of fat before matching it with her list and finally placing the item in the shopping cart. This process can take days.

My responsibility had always been opening the plastic produce bags and navigating the shopping cart around store obstacles of other shoppers and unattended children. These shared responsibilities worked for many years until she discovered Internet coupons. Internet coupons differ from the store’s weekly advertised specials. The items don’t exist or are purposely hidden. Grocery shopping has now become a journey, taking about the same amount of time it took for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For me shopping is a task to be dispensed as quickly as possible. I can easily pick up a week’s supply of food and be through the self-check-out in a few minutes. Pretzels, beer, beef suitable for grilling, sourdough bread and I’m out of there.

Everyone is a little different when making a buying decision on products or services. Good real estate agents intuitively respond to their clients’ different personalities and approaches to selecting a home. Buying a home is a big decision. Unlike a can of soup, once escrow has closed the return process is difficult. Here are a few pointers that I routinely discuss with my clients.

“You may feel a little pressure.” That’s what my dentist tells me before he inserts a needle the length of a football field into my mouth. Nobody likes pressure and hasty decisions made under pressure are usually not the best. Some buyers may feel some psychological pressure to make a commitment on a particular home. A few agents effectively use or actually instigate that tension. When a buyer begins to feel the pressure it’s time to take a break and examine those feelings or get another agent.

Shopping for a home should be a fun and exciting time. The relationship with their agent should be comfortable and professional. Appointments for previewing homes should be more than selecting a property. It’s an opportunity for buyers to educate themselves by asking their agent, questions about financing, home ownership and the homebuying process.

“I’ll know it when I see it.” That’s a statement I hear often from impulsive buyers. They are short on specific requirements but quick to judge a home. They trust their instincts to a fault and discount cautionary advice. Once they find the right house they become too emotionally attached to it, often dismissing defective issues discovered during the inspection process. A few years ago while showing a home to an impulsive buyer client, she told the seller that she loved the house and wasn’t going to look at another. Against my advice, my client offered full price. After closing, the listing agent told me the seller would have accepted much less. Impulsive buyers need to guard against thinking there is only one special home for them. They need to be emotionally prepared to walk away from the deal if warranted.

My analytical buyers usually know more about the property and the neighborhood than I do. They have already researched the schools, looked up the value of every neighborhood home on Zillow and can tell me how long the home has been on the market. Before making an offer they will call in their cadre of advisors including: inspectors, contractors, family and friends, carefully weighing the pros and cons of making an offer. They frequently visit the property measuring the rooms for furniture placement. While all that assessment is taking place someone else is making an offer.

If the initial impression of a home is favorable and it appears to be priced competitively, chances are the other buyers will feel the same way. There is ample time after an offer is accepted for a detailed analysis of the property. Making an offer is only one small step in the entire purchase process. Standard contracts contain ample opportunities to re-evaluate that initial decision. Rarely is a buyer’s deposit at risk.

The price is always less expensive someplace else. A home’s price is naturally important but it shouldn’t be the only factor. Paying a little more for the better location will be appreciated while living in the home and rewarded upon resale. Generally, less expensive homes requiring obvious minor repairs have other deferred maintenance issues disguised someplace else. A home that comes with property disclosures is more valuable than one without any disclosures or seller warranties.

El Dorado County’s median selling price of $264,000 is the highest in our eight-county region. There is a reason. County homebuyers believe they are receiving more overall value here than someplace else. A home is more than square footage with a roof. Buyers are paying for our top ranking schools, crime free neighborhoods, and an abundance of parks and recreational opportunities. That quality of life is not always available in other counties. Often the old adage about getting what you pay for is true whether you are shopping for tomatoes or a home.

Ken Calhoon is a real estate broker in El Dorado County. He can be reached through his Website

Ken Calhoon

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