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Here's The Truth About Real Estate: It's Just A House

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Originally Posted by Joan Herlong on Forbes.com on November 13, 2023 (Original Article)

Cliché. Fairytale. Fantasy.

That is what rushes through my brain whenever I see a real estate professional claim they are putting people in their dream homes. Or condos. Or houses. Or dream locations. Basically, if you are a real estate professional using any reference about finding a dream home or perfect home, you’re doing your clients a great disservice.

If you are buying a home, and your real estate agent hypes you on finding “your dream home,” then you might want to keep looking . . . for a different buyer agent.

It’s. Just. A. House.

You’ll make it a home.

Houses Are Just Collections of Objects

Houses have walls, roofs, floors, doors, windows, toilets, showers, sinks, etc. They don’t have any magical ability to change your life no matter what Disney movies tell you. At the end of the day, it’s just a house.

Case in point, consider the following anecdote that has been attributed to many, but I’m going with baseball legend Branch Rickey. Rickey would tell his managers and coaches the tale of a man who stepped off a train in a new town. He asked someone what the place was like, and the answer was it was a cutthroat, no-good place where everyone was only for themselves.

The man found that description of the town to be true. The next day another person got off the train, and asked the same question, but he was told that it was a great place where people willingly helped one another. The man found that description of the town to be true.

The Lesson for Real Estate

You are going to make your house a great place. You are going to enjoy life in a house once you make it feel like home. A buyer agent’s primary role is to help their buyers remain fixed in reality. If a buyer falls in love in a “dream house” — but doesn’t get it, then every other house will seem inferior. That mindset helps no one.

If they do get the house, thinking it’s a “10 out of 10,” reality will eventually sink in. Even if it’s an 8, it will feel like a disappointment compared to “the 10” their agent let them believe it was. Classic recipe for homemade buyer’s remorse.

How can agents and buyers avoid falling for “the dream house” bête noire?

  • Be an advocate. The real estate agent best serves their buyers and sellers by acting as their advocate and guide through a process that is foreign to them. They need to help clients navigate the complexities of a real estate transaction to make the very best decisions. The best decisions are fully informed decisions.
  • Focus on realities. An adept buyer agent will let you rave about the purple exterior, but they will also caution you that – on resale – purple homes in that area often take longer to sell. You’ve hired a professional to do a job, and that’s not the same as echoing everything you say.
  • Look at every house. A lot of potential buyers will not look at more houses once they have their heart set on their dream house. I say no, remain open. If you have five houses to look at in one day, you need to look at five houses. How else can you make an informed decision? Plus, it’s common courtesy. Those five sellers made their homes available to you so you need to respect that effort.

Remember, while buyers might tour dozens of properties before making an offer on one, and sellers will agonize over putting their home on the market, they spend precious little time looking for the right real estate professional to help. They assume they are all the same.

They are not. One way to tell the better ones? Ask them about finding you your dream home.

- Joan Herlong

Click here to order my book, "As Is: An Insider's Guide to Real Estate". Follow me on LinkedIn. Check out my website.

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