Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Viewing a FSBO

One of the main reasons a person will choose to purchase real estate without a buy-side broker is the perception that they will get a better deal. I have covered this before so won't get into it here. I recently had a personal experience of having to deal directly with the owner/seller of a house we happened to drive by. We are working with a broker but after leaving an appointment we happened past a house with a For Sale by Owner sign. We stopped, took a flyer and called to make an appointment. Ten minutes later the seller called back and we drove over for a look.

This initial appointment was fine but just a little awkward as we pointed out some of the pimples on the property. It was obvious the seller was getting a little defensive about our remarks. I kept it to a minimum because bottom-line was that we liked what we saw and the home had some potential. After we left we were a little excited that this could be it (worthy of an offer!) but we would have to see it again. A few days later I scheduled an appointment and we headed over for a closer, more critical look. Usually I would be talking to an agent and would feel comfortable asking critical questions. But facing the owner, knowing this was the house his parents lived in and his father had tinkered with made me feel a bit uncomfortable. As a broker who represents buyers, I am never afraid to ask the tough questions. It's never personal. I have a client whom I am looking out for and I want to know all there is to know. That said, the listing agent usually understands this and it remains a business conversation, although we may disagree, we understand we are representing different interests.

Back to the house, where an owner and a buyer (me) are conversing without agents involved. As I pointed out the proximity of the neighbors, the condition of the pool and the fact that both bathrooms and the kitchen would need to be replaced things got a little tense. But when else was I going to start laying the groundwork for our offer? We stood in the kitchen and I began my build up to our offer...awkward! Lol. He didn't feel our renovation plans should be factored into the purchase price, I disagreed a bit on this and felt of course there had to be an adjustment, perhaps not dollar for dollar but an adjustment none the less.

Anyway, no need to get into the entire discussion/negotiation. The point is it was quite uncomfortable negotiating directly with the seller. It was his home, of course he was going to take it personally. I really believe the process (most of the time) is more efficient when both the buyer and the seller have representation. I created a company to address the concerns people have with the compensation model but whichever model you use-I think you are best off with your own agent. I know I prefer having my own agent representing my interests, a buffer to relay my comments to the sellers agent.

In a current deal we are involved with, I had asked for a very delayed closing date for tax reasons. I knew the seller would probably not like hearing this but I explained it to my agent who then was able to inform the seller's broker. Of course the seller was not thrilled but at least her agent was able to explain our situation clearly and act as a buffer.When I had tried to discuss this point directly with the owner/seller of the other home, he just balked and said "no way" before I could give him the full picture. What a difference it was to have my agent discuss my needs with the seller's agent without any emotional noise getting in the way. Thanks in part to their teamwork, we are now in contract.

I am the first one to tell you there is no one way to buy or sell a property, this was just my experience and two cents on the issue of agent representation.

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