Sometimes it’s baby steps; sometimes leaps and bounds

#97 in a series of true experiences in real estate
May 1995, Hills Newspapers

Once you’re on my primary buyer list, I spend a lot of time on you. I think about you, I dream about you, and every single day, I look for the right house for you. In fact, once you are in my brain, I can’t seem to get you out.

But maybe you’re just at the beginning stages of buying – thinking and gathering information. You may not be ready to move for some months, or even years.

You’re not alone. Most people thinking of buying, even those who have gone through it before, don’t know where to begin. They don’t know how much they can borrow or what amount of money it will take to buy something they would like to have.

Sometimes they are worried about their credit and aren’t sure if they should do something about it. Or they need to know if their bedroom addition added value to their present home. Their parents have talked about lending them money or they’re about to receive an inheritance.

I’d love to talk to you now. I can help you by talking about what you will feel comfortable paying each month, telling you about closing costs and property taxes, talking about neighborhoods and beautiful houses.

I can ask you why you want to buy a house. You can tell me where you live now and how long you think you’ll be staying in this area. I can explain how the process of buying works and how long it usually takes. And while we talk, we can decide if we want to meet one another, perhaps work together – or if it is too early to decide.

I probably won’t put you on my buyer list yet. At this point, I won’t look at every house that might work for you. I probably won’t call you every week, although you are welcome to call me anytime. You can ask questions and you can tell me what you’re thinking. And, because I can’t help it, I’ll keep you and your house in the back of my mind.

Sometimes people never get beyond that stage. They change their minds about buying or what they want to buy, or what they want to buy isn’t very realistic. For example, a man once told me about his dream of living in a warehouse space. He described huge open spaces, high ceilings, tin roofs – all probably available in industrial areas. But his wife and small children wanted to live in a regular neighborhood. Couldn’t I find a warehouse located where they’d all be happy?

Twenty years passed before I saw a building that made me think of that man. It was the first time in all those years that I’d seen anything like what he had described. I didn’t know if he’d even remember me, but I was so excited, I had to call him.

He did remember and thought the building I described sounded just right but, not surprisingly, his circumstances had changed. It was no longer what he wanted.

Maybe you’ll come to an intermediate place – not ready to leap but not sure what you’re after. I’d like to talk to you then, too. Maybe we can look at some houses together, find out what you like about them and what disappoints you. I’ve probably seen quite a few more houses than you have. I may be able to tell you if the direction you are going in is pie in the sky or is pretty likely to exist. Maybe I’ll have some suggestions about other directions.

Before we shift into high gear, if I am going to work every day for you, we both need to believe that you know where you are gong, that you are determined to get there. But there is no hurry. Taking your time now is fine – far better than finding yourself in the middle of something and not wanting to be there.

So you talk to a loan broker. Maybe you explore neighborhoods where friends live. You might look at open houses until you have a good idea of what you can afford. And maybe you will reach the “go ahead full steam” stage.

Boy, do I want to talk to you now! You should be using my prime time. This is when you use my experience and my time to locate what you would have trouble finding and learning about on your own.

This is the optimum situation for us both. Now I will put you on my list. Now I will work every day until we get what you want.

Here is a story about the right house, a good match, and a goal. A woman called me who wanted to buy a house. She knew just what she wanted and was able to describe it so well that I knew too. She told me the size, the style, the location and the price.

“I know precisely what you want,” I told her happily. “It isn’t available right now, but it will be – maybe tomorrow, maybe in six months.” Then I asked, “Do you need to see other houses while you wait?” “No,” she said. “Call me when you find it.”

She was the best kind of client – comfortable with me, trusting, and she understood my job. We did not meet in person until the day some months later when I saw and instantly recognized her house. I had spent a lot of time looking for it, which I was glad to do. I knew what I was after, and I was pretty sure she’d buy it when I found it.

She came to see it that afternoon. “This is it,” she said. Then she bought it.

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