by Todd Lewys
“Focus” is a quality that, more often than not, determines success or failure in any venture we undertake.
Perhaps, the most daunting venture we face in life is buying a home. At it’s best — guided expertly by an experienced REALTOR® — it’s an organized, largely stress-free process that ends in finding a home that meets a buyer’s needs. At it’s worst, it can be a disorganized, stressful process that can result in making an erroneous, emotion-driven purchase.
That’s why it’s important to rely on an experienced REALTOR® to make the buying process as organized and stress-free as possible. With that in mind, the first-step in that process is a relatively simple one, said REALTOR® Andrea Wiebe.
“To get things started properly, I always do a buyer’s interview first,” she said. “It’s important to sit down and talk about what you need to do before starting to look at homes.
“For example, some people might have an idea about what neighbourhood they want to live in, but it might not necessarily be a realistic one. They might think that they can get a good home for $150,000 in the North End or West End. That’s where I come in with my expertise — to tell a client if their expectations are realistic, or not.”
Long-time REALTOR® Cliff King added it’s essential to get a client focused before they head out to start looking at homes.
“It’s absolutely critical that REALTORS® sit down before and ask their clients all kinds of questions: What neighbourhood do they want to live in, what style of home are they looking for, and what price can they afford?” he said.
“Right now, there are over 5,000 listings in the Winnipeg area. With so many choices, it’s not easy to find a home, so getting clients focused on their needs is very important.”
Wiebe added that one of her first questions involves finding out if a prospective home buyer is pre-approved, and, if so, for what amount.
“I won’t take anyone out to look at a home until I learn what amount they’re qualified for,” she said. “Once I know what their budget is, I’ll then go over the options that are available to them. It’s then a matter of taking them out to view a cross-section of homes to see what’s available.”
In some cases, Wiebe said, clients get focused on a number, whether it be high or low.
“Some might be qualified at $300,000, but are only comfortable with the idea of spending $250,000, while others might want to spend the maximum they’re allowed,” she said. “That’s where I come in.
“Sometimes, I’ll get a client to go up an extra $20,000 to get a home that better meets their needs. In other cases, I might take a client through $300,000 homes to show them it might be possible to get as much at that level as they would get at $350,000.
“As REALTORS®, it’s our job to guide clients to the home that’s right for them,” she added.
That goal can only be accomplished when both the client and the REALTOR® are thinking in-synch.
“Communication is huge,” said King. “Both parties have to sit down at length so they can work to narrow things down. That’s the only way you can get on the same page.
“Buying a home is a complicated process. It’s not just about getting a bunch of quick details, and then running out to look at a bunch of homes,” added King.
He said failing to take the time to do due diligence can lead to the process becoming onerous rather than enjoyable.
“If you don’t get a specific idea of what a client’s needs are, it’s hard to find the right home for them. The process can be a waste of time for the seller, buyer and REALTOR® because you’re looking at homes in the wrong price range or area, or both. That doesn’t make any sense.”
Taking a little time to get focused prior to getting engaged in the buying process can go a long way, said Wiebe.
“With more inventory available to choose from than in past years, it’s essential for home buyers to rely on the expertise of a REALTOR®. I don’t expect every client to be totally aware of what their needs are. That’s why we’re here as REALTORS® — to help buyers identify the home that’s right for them,” she said.
“But to do that, we both have to be on the same page. Otherwise, the process can be a waste of time for everyone involved.”