Putting Clients First

selling houseOccasionally a buyer will want to buy or a seller will want to sell — and I will suggest that they may want to consider other options. Nothing seems to surprise buyers and sellers more than when I help them find an alternative to buying or selling.

For example, a couple called me some years ago saying that they were close to being behind in their mortgage and that they felt they had to sell in order to get out from under an unbearable debt. I asked would they stay in their home if they could. The answer was a resounding YES. I helped them refinance instead. They had gotten bad advice from other agents and lenders and didn’t think they had any other options. They managed to reduce their monthly payment by a large enough amount that they were able to stay in the house.

I’ve also begged buyers to wait until they were in a better financial position before buying. Sometimes they listen and sometimes they don’t. Okay, usually they don’t. It’s not that I don’t think they can buy, it’s that I think they would be in a stronger position — qualify for better interest rates or lower downpayments — if they wait until their job situation has settled down or they’ve fixed their credit. A plan for increasing savings or for fixing credit can make a world of difference even just a few months later.

It’s not that I don’t want the business, ’cause I really do. The litmus test is this — what advice would I give to my son, daughter or my mother-in-law. If I wouldn’t give a particular recommendation to them, I won’t give it to my clients. Putting commission first is a sure way to burn bridges. If the choice is to move forward with buying or selling, then I’m happy to move forward with them, but at least I know they’ve explored the options.

(C) Susan Pruden.

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1 Response to Putting Clients First

  1. Yep. I agree that buying and/or selling may not be the very best thing for people depending on the circumstances. Yet, there are times even when people are not in the best of financial circumstances that selling of buying may be the thing to do.

    Example: I once had a seller contact me. He was truly on the verge of foreclosure. He wanted to try everything including getting his non-citizen ex-wife involved (no social security number, no loan). We ended up pricing the home low, got multiple offers to $40,000 over list and he got out with $10,000 in his pocket even after paying his arrears, attorney fees, late fees, etc. It was the thing to do.

    For buyers, rent just keeps going up and up and up. It’s hard to “save” when every year your rent goes up and the possibility looms that the landlord may want to sell the house (if it’s a house). With current (2015) historically low mortgage rates, reasonably affordable prices and the mortgage interest deduction, buying may make sense even if the buyers have to stretch a little to make it work.

    Of course, bad credit or no money are the big determinants but with people who can qualify for a mortgage, home ownership may be the way to go. Plus, they can decorate and make home improvements without needing permission from the landlord.

    Home ownership is not for everyone. I totally agree with that. And, it’s up to real estate professionals to look their clients in the eye and tell them the truth. If there is a better alternative (your refinancing example), I say “go for it”.

    There is no a one size fits all, for sure.
    Ken Montville recently posted..Home Prices And Wishful Thinking

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