Are you Looking for a House or a Home?

DSCN4282Are you looking for a house or a home? This question seems redundant. Is there a distinct difference between a house and a home? Houses exist everywhere, they are easy to find. Finding a home is more elusive.

Looking out my kitchen window I can see two houses across the street. Opening my KW app (download the app here) on my phone it’s easy scroll “nearby houses” with photos and prices of houses in Williston. Jumping in my truck and driving to Shaw’s at Maple Tree Place I pass village houses, neighborhood houses and a condominium community all within my four-mile drive. These are all physical places where people live.

A house is a building where people live. Location, size, bedrooms, bathrooms typically define a house. For example, a friend may call and ask me to look for a 4-bedroom house within walking distance of UVM Medical Center. Moving involves changing your physical location from one house to another. Often, when showing a house I am asked, “Why are they selling?” In all cases, it’s simply because they are moving.

DSCN4717When it’s time to change your physical location, or move to a new house, many real estate agents will engage you in a “Buyer Consultation.” Notes from this meeting include your wants, needs, and wishes for your new house. Most of the time, this involves the components or features of a house. For example, small yard, space for a garden, privacy, flat driveway, ½ bath on first level, walk-out basement, two-car garage, pool, etc. Most important, though, is your preferred location. Discussions about location involve a particular lifestyle that will, eventually, lead to finding a home. Another conversation follows involving personal questions. These are lifestyle questions, which, may sound intrusive or prying, but this is what I need to know to help you find a home. To assist in this quest for a change in location, there is a need to assess your lifestyle. Hence, the need to tell me about yourself. From parrots to parties, please “tell all.” No need to feel self-conscious as I am not judging you, just trying to help you find a home. Include your preferred forms of recreation, shopping, eating, traveling, exercising, etc.

Finding a home is more elusive than finding a house. The word “home” elicits an emotional connection to a physical place where one reads, cooks, relaxes. Your home does not need to fit the physical definition of a house. It can be an apartment, a boat, a trailer, a cabin, a room over a garage, or a yurt.

600x600bb-85If you’re still skeptical, watch one of my favorite HGTV shows, Love It or List It. A simple premise of “should we stay or should we go?” The “Love It” portion involves designer Hilary. “List It” features David a real estate agent. While it may seem counterintuitive for me to cheer for the “Love It” part of the show, let me explain. David finds them a physical house that seems to meet their expressed need to move. Yet, the physical house that he finds does not meet their lifestyle needs. Either the commute is too long, the schools have changed, they are no longer near their favorite gym, restaurant, juice bar. In the end, the talented Hilary has revamped their living space to make it truly a “love it” and the place that they call “home.” In conclusion, the perfect house may not be the perfect home.

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5  Inconvenient Truths About Finding a Good Real Estate Agent

Finding a good real estate agent may not be as easy as searching Google or Yelp, read on to learn why you can’t believe everything you see on the Internet when it comes to real estate.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.05.40 PM1.     The “Premiere Agent” on Zillow has paid to be in that #1 position. Many agents pay third party search engines to pop up at the top of the list of real estate agents in your area. This truth extends to Realtor.com, Trulia.com and Yelp.com. Many times, your top local real estate experts who provide exceptional service and results stay in business through repeat clients, past client referrals, and general “word-of-mouth” networks. Ask your colleagues, friends and family who they recommend before jumping on the internet to look for an agent.

2.     All “public” websites that provide house searches include “for sale by owner” properties. Many buyers are thrown off guard when they find out that the house listed on Realtor.com and other real estate websites may not necessarily be offered through a real estate agency. Buyer beware as dealing directly with the owner may result in a “lopsided” transaction where the buyer is not aware of traditional real estate practices in their local area and many times is at a disadvantage dealing with the seller.

Screen Shot 2017-10-19 at 1.34.09 PM3.     Internet sites that promote “We will match you with a Top Agent” usually send your information to several agents that have signed up for that websites services. These agents scramble to be the “first” to contact you and the agents pay a hefty “finder” fee to the service.

4.     Reviews may not tell the whole story about an agent. While it’s interesting to read the 5 star reviews, sometimes when you see a “plethora” of them you may need to ask “Why are there so many reviews for this one agent?” There are no rules or regulations governing the procurement of these reviews from previous customers. Let that sink in.

5.     Sometimes your “marquee agents” burn and churn their clients. Again, the agents that pay to show up on searches may not be the type of agent that you are looking for. Many so-called “top” producing agents are working with multiple agents on their team who are doing most of the work with the buyers and sellers. You may not have access to the “top agent” at all.

 

Who Finds the House, Anyway?

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P: Realtor.com

When I first meet with buyers they ask, “Why do I need a real estate agent if I find the house?” They also show me the various apps they are using to search – Realtor.com, Zillow, etc. This is a good question, and one that many in the industry ponder. You enter your criteria on these websites, wait all day for your phone to ping, ring, or buzz, and then you contact your agent for a showing. Sounds easy, right?

After about three of these pop up showings, buyers tend to get discouraged. “But it looked so much better in photos,” and “I didn’t know that the neighbor had pit bulls until we drove up to the house,” are just some of the disappointments that befall the buyer.

libn.com

P: libn.com

And, to add to more stress and discouragement, some houses that pop up on your phone are not actually available to see as they may already be under contract with another, more fortunate buyer. Or, so the buyers think.

These scenarios occur when a buyer is “chasing the market.” You need to get ahead of the market by working with an experienced, professional real estate agent that knows the local market inside and out.

In fact, the house you are looking for is most likely going to be brought to your attention by your agent.

Since real estate expertise is something accumulated over years of going in and out of houses, townhouses, condos, and neighborhoods on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that an experienced agent will be able to find you a house that meets your needs.

Property MapOnce I know what you are looking for, I can “edit” the list of potential homes and hone in quickly on prime candidates. After we see a few houses together I will be able to figure out what will be ideal. What does that mean to you? It means you can relax. Don’t jump every time Zillow sends a notification. While it may meet your Zillow criteria, it may not meet your other wants and needs.

I only take on a few buyers at a time to give exceptional service and “house finding” expertise. Is the perfect house on the internet? Maybe, but an experienced agent will keep you “ahead” of the market, which is preferable to “chasing” the houses.