On the flip side of the joy and excitement that a home sale stirs up, real estate professionals must also guide clients through the wrung hands, stress dreams and emotional lows that wreak havoc when plans or promises fall through.
And no one is immune to the anxiety or “what ifs” that creep into this high-stakes event, with life savings, financial futures and set hearts on the line.
Below are two viewpoints that explore the most pressing fears that homebuyers and sellers experience. Taken together, the split perspectives that define and shape the real estate transaction emerge.
Here are the most common fears that buyers have:
Are your buyers paying a fair price for the home? What if they are overpaying?
What if similar properties in the area sell for less or prices drop? Should the buyer have waited, or did they pull the trigger too late?
2. Buying a money pit
This is a big concern for every buyer, no matter how novice or seasoned they may be.
What if the inspection finds major issues, or what if there are more problems of a deeper nature discovered upon moving in? If a seller wishes to sell the property “as is,” a buyer wonders “what are they hiding?”
If buyers are planning to renovate, they often worry that the remodeling process will reveal large-scale issues like foundation problems or hidden termite damage that will cost significant amounts of money to repair.
3. The neighbors and the neighborhood
A buyer often fears moving into a neighborhood and discovering it wasn’t what he or she thought it was.
What happened to those nice neighbors who smiled and waved as you drove past? What if the neighbors aren’t friendly or turn out to be strange?
What about discovering the crazy tenants next door, or cars coming and going at all hours of the night at that cute home across the street?
No matter how much due diligence a buyer does, there is no substitute for physically being in the neighborhood 24/7 to know what it is really like. Pitching a tent on a neighbor’s lawn is not always an option.
4. Interest rates
What if the interest rate goes up before your buyer finds something?
This concern wasn’t as prevalent over the last couple of years as it is now. In just a few weeks after the election, interest rates climbed into the 4-percent-plus range and bounced around as high as 4.5 percent, depending on the hour and day they were checked.
This is a real concern for buyers who are likely stretching themselves (isn’t everyone?) to get what they want. A lack of inventory and affordability at varying levels in different markets is stressful enough for buyers — let alone now having to worry about interest rate fluctuations that could affect their comfort level with monthly mortgage payments.
5. The house is not what it seemed
To a certain extent, every buyer falls in love with a home while wearing rose-colored glasses.
The in-person showing creates excitement and anticipation as a buyer starts to envision their life in this space. During the second visit (if the market affords the time for a second look) the buyer starts to mentally move in, and it can be hard sometimes to objectively look at the home to see how it will really work on a day-to-day basis.
What if the floor plan doesn’t work as well as the buyer thought, or the closet and storage situation becomes much more challenging than he or she anticipated?
Sometimes it is easy to rationalize something that is not quite a fit with a “will make it work” attitude. Coupled with the urgency that often accompanies making an offer before multiple offers come in or losing out to another buyer, it can be easy to have a skewed view when under pressure.
Experiencing fear when embarking on one of life’s major milestones is not unusual. The fear of the unknown and doubts often arise.
However, buyers can rest assured knowing that there are ways to mitigate these fears — an experienced agent by their side to guide them every step of the way.
1. Selling too low
Just like buyers fear paying too much, sellers often worry over whether they could have gotten a higher price when they accept an offer.
This can be particularly true when a home sells fast — within the first day or a few days after hitting the market.
Real estate professionals know that when this happens, it’s most likely because the home was priced right, but a seller often has lingering thoughts about “what if” they could have asked for more.
2. How will the market respond to my home?
What if buyers don’t run to the front door the minute a home comes on the market, or the features that a seller thought buyers would gush over simply get a lukewarm “that’s nice” reaction?
What if a buyer isn’t willing to pay top dollar for the blood, sweat and money a seller has put into the house?
3. What if the buyer can’t move forward?
As exciting as it can be to work out an accepted offer for both parties, a seller fears that once their home is under contract, something will arise that prevents a buyer from being able to close — a job loss or financing troubles.
In most cases, sellers are already in the process planning, packing and purchasing another property. The stress of a potential domino effect can be overwhelming.
4. What will the buyer’s inspection find?
Whether you’re a first- or fifth-time seller, having a slew of inspectors crawling around a home looking for problems can be scary.
The fear of the unknown with this kind of fishing expedition is nerve-wracking.
Even if the sellers have taken meticulous care of their property, they know that inspectors always seem to find something.
5. Showings, but no offers
How many showings will it take to get an offer? Some homes see a lot of foot traffic and then — silence.
A seller fears this in addition to offers that are much lower than anticipated.
Assuming a seller has properly prepped the home for sale and it is priced within range, it can be difficult to compete, depending on the other options in the marketplace that buyers are considering.
Selling a home is a stressful experience, as it can feel as though little is under a seller’s control.
That’s why agents well-versed in handling listings can be a huge asset in being as proactive (rather than reactive) as possible.
A good listing agent expects and heads off potential problems before they become major issues.
Cara Ameer is a broker associate and Realtor with Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida. You can follow her on Facebook or Twitter.