The very first time I heard the expression “buyers are liars” was shortly after I started working as Realtor. I was annoyingly surprised that someone would actually say that. So cynical. Buyers aren’t liars, they just know what they like — or so I thought.

  • Buyers aren’t liars; they often just don’t know what they want until they see it.

The very first time I heard the expression “buyers are liars” was shortly after I started working as Realtor. I was annoyingly surprised that someone would actually say that. So cynical. Buyers aren’t liars, they just know what they like — or so I thought.

Then I started working with buyers.

One set of buyers told me emphatically, that they would only look at new construction. I showed them all the homes that were new construction within their price range.

The challenge was finding the right house in the perfect location: most of things they could afford were on small lots or located near a busy street. Or the houses, themselves, were poorly constructed. They were discouraged and kept expecting me to miraculously find them that perfect new construction home.

I finally convinced them to broaden their search. So we started over. I began showing them renovated homes. As I suspected, they fell in love with a 100-year-old house that had been updated and was in a terrific location.

Obviously, it didn’t take new construction to meet their needs.

Practical vs. emotional

There are two forces at work when buyers purchase a home: the practical and the emotional. The practical side may say — “must have finished basement,” but the emotional side will gravitate toward something as insignificant as a pretty chandelier.

Disciplined buyers will sacrifice their emotional needs for the practical needs, but very few buyers are disciplined. Most buyers will instinctively know when they have found the home of their dreams — and it often has nothing to do with what they outlined as requirements to their agents.

Although good agents learn to understand their buyers and begin to identify which houses are going to work and which ones aren’t, it’s never fool proof.

Buyers are attracted to the strangest things: the color of a room, a beautiful front door, a nice bathroom — it could be anything.

I had one buyer who liked that she could see both the front and backyard from her kitchen windows and could keep an eye on her kids playing. I didn’t even notice that feature, but she did.

Another buyer picked a house because the owners had pictures of three children, that looked just like her three children — it was sign that it was the right house! The emotion they felt overruled any objections to the house.

Buyers just know what they like and what they don’t like, and as an agent, you can’t always be certain what that is.

I can tell when a buyer doesn’t like a home — it shows in their body language and their expressions. I can also tell when they like something. They start talking in possibilities — “We’ll put the flat-screen TV there,” or “This will be Sam’s room.”

Often, when I have a listing, my sellers understandably get frustrated when the showing ends quickly and the feedback is unsatisfactory.

Can’t the agents do a better job of screening their buyers?

The answer is, unfortunately, not really. If the agents eliminate a house and don’t show it, buyers sometimes insist on seeing it.

More importantly, sometimes the buyers themselves don’t really know what they like until they see it; every showing is a new opportunity for a seller and should be welcomed.

Even when the buyer doesn’t seem a likely candidate to purchase the home — you never really know.

Buyers are liars? No, those aren’t the words I would use. Buyers are intuitive and often unaware of what they really value and need — they have to see it, to know when they’ve found home!

Ann Jones has been a respected Realtor on the North Shore of Chicago for nearly 15 years. Her primary market is the Lake Forest/Lake Bluff area but serves clients along the shore as well. Follow her blog at anns-blog.com or on Pinterest.

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