14 November 2012
Whose real estate advice is best?
This is a topic about which I have often thought about and seen in action but something I have always bitten my tongue about because I worry that clients might take it the wrong way. Perhaps here is a safe outlet for this observation about human nature which is typical in my working world. More often than not it is not an issue but fairly often it is and I see people leading themselves away from what they want or benefits they could have had in a brief period of confusion and stress.
In just about every deal, there are a handful of friends and family who are rooting for their own. This is especially true during negotions. If it's a Buyer they are usually telling them to offer a lower price and telling them scary stories of things that happened to them, someone they know or someone in the newspaper. If it's a Seller, there is at least one friend who is telling them they should ask for more money. So on either side of the deal, we have a similar dynamic of support for the individual(s) that are involved in the transaction.
Now, I'm not going to say not to listen to these supportive people because they are people who care and are trying to help. Emotional support when facing a big decision and life changing event is important. I have seen many good questions and ideas come from friends and family over the years but I have also seen a lot of clients excessively rattled to the point of emotions being stronger than ability to reason as well. My position is that one should take the advice of well wishers with a grain of salt while also be thankful for their good intentions. We are, after all, lucky to have caring people in our lives.
Please allow me to explain further.
If you're a Buyer, your friends/family haven't looked at all the properties that you have and they (usually) don't know your whole financial situation let alone how it works in conjunction with the current market and mortgage conditions. They probably don't have the same tastes as you. It's likely that they will have either more or less handyman skills than you and have different standards about how much work should go into a property, how much a particular place will need and for what reasons. When they bought a property many things in addition to the above were probably quite different and they may or may not recognize that. (Read my post about "Negotiating a Good Price as a Buyer" for more about this.) Add these variables up and you can see why even in a time when you can look up almost anything on the internet, the vast majority of people are still using professionals to help them navigate and interpret the information they need.
If you're a Seller, your friends might have some ideas on how to get more money out of the sale using a variety of strategies. Some are good, and some are outright grim for your finances. (Read my series about "The House That Wouldn't Sell." for more about this.)
The well wishers mean to help but they're not out there in living and working the real estate market every day. Things are constantly changing and being immersed in it is the only way to keep up. Some things never change and some do, knowing the difference isn't so easy though. This is why you have a Realtor (me), a Mortgage Broker, a Property Inspector, a Lawyer and potentially more professionals working with you on what is probably the biggest financial transaction of your life. We are here to make sure that the transaction is as safe as possible and we want to protect our clients. We want you to use us, our knowledge and our connections to make up your own mind of how you want to proceed in as clearminded and informed of a way as possible.
In the end, it's your life, your goals and your money, and no one else's. It's easier to give advice than to live out that advice after all. And who would you rather take that advice from? You wouldn't go to a Grocer to get advice on how to fix your car, would you? Or to a Dentist to help you learn to play the piano? There are so many pros out there who have so much experience and knowledge who want to help you. It's just a matter of speaking with them.
No matter what property you choose to buy or sell and no matter what you pay there is a certain amount of risk involved. It's up to you to know what you are comfortable with and it's up to us professionals to make sure that whatever decision you make is an informed decision.
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