Ever have those clients who are either all over the board on what they are looking for or so specific you just want to sell them land and let them build a house? Well I have two clients who fall into this category. One has no clue what he wants. He says he knows what he wants, but he doesn’t. He wants a house between 200k-500k, somewhere in our market (which is huge) but doesn’t matter what city, doesn’t matter how many bedrooms or bathrooms or whether it has a garage or not, or even the square footage of the house. Really has no specifics at all. In our market we have over 2,000 homes that are in his price range. And on the other hand I have a client who wants a condo on a golf course, with one bedroom facing the golf course, a patio or deck, three bedrooms, at least 2 ½ baths, a pool in the complex near the condo, a good size kitchen with breakfast bar, hard wood floors and if all possible a wet bar. And can come with a golf package. Both say they are motivated to buy now, but their actions do not say so. So they have me running around searching places and calling places to see if they offer golf packages to owners, and I know in the back of my head that they are not really motivated buyers. But they keep wanting me to search here and there, all while wasting my time when I could be spending even more time with clients I know are going to buy. So what exactly do you do with clients like these? You want to just dump them on the door of another agency, but you can’t do that. Yet you cannot waste all your time on people like this. Especially when one is so up in the air that he can’t make a decision on anything you show him from the MLS or even come close to narrowing down his search. All he says is he will know the house when he sees it. The other is so specific it is impossible to find him something that meets all his needs. Did I mention he even wants the kitchen cabinets a certain color and the master bathroom to have a jetted tub and stand up shower? That is the impossible find. Especially when he wants it to come with a golf package. I would love to strangle both. And of course both call or email me at least once a day to check on progress. I am very good with follow up and keeping my clients informed on what I am doing for them. But I normally do not check in every day when I have nothing to report. So on one hand they seem like eager buyers, but truly eager buyers are not this up in the air or this narrow in specifics. I have noticed that the more eager ones have an idea of what they want, but they are willing to not get exactly everything they want and realize that if they want hardwood floors, then they will install them if their dream house does not come with them. This gentleman doesn’t want to do any work on the condo. He wants it to come exactly as he has stated. Impossible clients, nightmare clients-you can’t really afford to kick them to the curb, but you can’t also work too hard for them since you have a stack of better clients you need to be working with. Somehow I always get the nightmare clients or situations. Beginners lack of luck. All I can do is try my best, not work too hard on them but n0t forget about them either. They may buy at some point, just not anytime soon. I have better clients to deal with who will be buying soon, so I can’t waste all my time with people won’t be buying anytime soon. Even if they seem eager, they are not. Unfortunately I have been down this road before, so I have learned the hard way who is really eager and who just says they are eager and have you running around in circles for them.
So I have these clients who loved this one neighborhood. It is near highways and get you anywhere in the Grand Strand in minutes, but off a road that keeps you away from the traffic. A real kid friendly neighborhood-even has a basketball goal at the end of a cul-de-sac for people to use. It is a little too perfectly creepy for me. It is a new development and all the homes seem to be the same and there are no trees. But my clients loved everything about it. So we found them a house they loved. The pictures of the outside and inside were perfect. They just knew it was going to fit all their needs and could really see themselves having a family here and living here for a long time. So I set up a showing appointment and even call the listing agent the day before just to remind her we are coming. No problem she said, her clients knew all about it. Great I thought-this was going to be an easy sell. So off we go the next evening to see my clients’ dream home. Perfect on the outside, the wife is almost giddy with excitement. Then we walk in… The house was a disaster. Looked like it hadn’t been cleaned in weeks, dirty dishes in the sink, closets were a disaster and dirty clothes coming out of the hamper; clothes on the floor. The look on their faces went from excitement to disgust. So I calmly, since I am about to scream, try to do some damage control and suggest may be something happened and we can come back another time to look at the inside, but let’s go look at the backyard and see the rest of the outside. I know the inside can always be cleaned up, but I want them to like the rest of the house. Of course, I am not even buying what I am saying to them. But out to the deck we go. And in the backyard, straddling what has to be the property line is the largest wooden playhouse-fort-swing set I have ever seen. It goes into half of both houses’ backyards. My clients hate it. I am no idiot but this kind of monstrosity can kill a deal and a closing. And it is heavily anchored into the ground, so it will not be easy to just move. This showing was a nightmare. I knew of no way to recover from this. I just kept apologizing and saying I would call the listing agent and get to the bottom of this. They, not surprisingly, kept telling me not to bother. At this point I am ready to kill this listing agent. So they go tearing out of the driveway, and I get on the phone. Well, the agent is barely shocked over the state of the house and is asking me what the big deal is over the play set. Well she must have gone over to the house today, because she is now singing a different tune. She was very apologetic over the state of the house, and it seems that the play set had been moved from one backyard to both since she was last there a month ago. Last night she probably thought I was just with overly picky buyers and that I didn’t know a thing about property lines or encroachments and was just being a witch with a capital “B”. Glad she now knows I wasn’t lying or over-reacting and that yes this deal is blown. Do these sellers know that they are selling their house? I know they knew we were coming; did they really think leaving the house in such a fashion was going to get it sold? I would really like to know what they were thinking. I have done some open houses and known the house was never going to sell because there was too much personality in it and a buyer was never going to be able to overlook it all to be able to put themselves in the picture. Same problem here. With all the clutter and dirt, my clients could not look past it and see what they thought was their dream home. So my easy sell just went from easy to a hard to keep them as clients’ situation. They don’t blame me and of course there are other homes in the neighborhood for sale that I am going to show them, but this was their dream home and the image of what it looked like on the inside and in the backyard is never going to leave their minds. I am really going to have to find something 100x better to get them to buy any time soon. Notice to all listing agents-NEVER let this happen and staging a home does go a long way in getting a home sold. If that place had been great condition, staged and the monstrosity had not been in the backyard, instead of writing this post I could be writing a contract. A perfect and easy deal blown by nightmare sellers. But who is at fault here-the sellers or the listing agent? I may be new at this, but in my opinion-both.
“Working through short sales is working for minimum wage.” I heard this not long ago from a respected source. Given that I was currently laboring through the toil and turmoil over my own short sale listing, I responded with spirit, “Their minimum wage must be different than mine”. That comment shook me up! Not everyone is meant to navigate through short sales, but to the rookie in the room our business is sometimes paying those starting wages. Through this marathon of unknown distance we have a fortunate opportunity to go deeper with our clients. No one quite prepares you for the challenges ahead, but soon you’re so far down the path that the only choice is to continue.
Last week I finally closed that short sale. After 12 months (yikes!), 3 sets of buyers, 2 bank approvals, countless calls and hours on the phone with the bank and collaborative efforts with the buyer’s agent, we closed. I got the see the sigh of relief on my client’s face when he learned that he didn’t have to make the month’s mortgage payment. After months of worry and stress, I witnessed a chapter close and light open towards a new beginning. In that period during closing, my career choice had re-solidified. Real estate is about creating and nurturing relationships; we are paid based upon how successful we work with others, nothing to do with the wage rate. Know how I am sure of that? I have since had two transactions with clients I met through my short sale listing.
Here are some vital tidbits of learning I discovered along the way, if you were ever to land yourself in a short sale:
Make sure you tie up loose ends at the beginning i.e. completed TISH, Code of Compliances, title clouds etc.
You may actually gain clients out of such a transaction; people are perceptive to an agent going above and beyond. Act as your seller’s strongest advocate and you will win trust.
Work as a team with the buyer’s agent (with buyer’s and seller’s permission, of course). Have them on speed dial, meet up and communicate with the bank. It works. I was not nearly as interrelated with the first two buyer’s agents, and as a result both buyers walked. When buyer and seller are on the same page, you are more likely to appear stronger to the bank and gain approval.
Have I had other transactions that have closed quickly, without problems and were more lucrative? Fortunately, I have. But I smile when I think back to the times my career has been most rewarding—and oddly enough it isn’t the easy ones that crack that smile. Do we determine our wage on dollars alone? For a newbie, can wage partially come in the form of sweaty equity? My smile says yes… and I’m okay with that!