I’ve helped people with the process of selling and buying houses for over 23 years. It’s a complicated sometimes volatile mix of analysis and emotion that people have compared to death and divorce regarding the strain it puts on people. There’s another stress-inducing activity I’ve been thinking about recently, dating. There are plenty of similarities between those two as well.
The home search process and dating have changed in the past 20 years. Now they both are driven, at least in the beginning stages, by the internet. The last time I was dating, it was mostly a question of who you knew, and who they knew, which watering hole you frequented, where you worked or went to school.
Those were the places where many people met their partners. As for houses, when I first started in real estate, there was no online access to the public and no online photos for anyone. You had to go out there and look. You had to kiss a lot of frogs before you found the right one.
That leads me to another similarity, the fact that pictures online can tell one story, but face to face can be a very different one. I advise my seller clients that the war for the buyer’s hearts and minds is won or lost with the first picture they see, and the same can indeed be said for online dating sites, swipe left or right, the decision happens in an instant.
In today’s low inventory market, the buyers and their agents have to play a waiting game. They watch their phones, hoping that the “right one” will appear today. Every time their phone pings they jump. When they see something that looks like a winner, rush right out to see it. They pull up front, and nervously walk to the door, the agent fiddles with the lockbox, and finally, they open the door. Is it going to be love at first sight or just another disappointment?
Now let’s look at the seller’s side for a moment, there is waiting for many of them as well. They get their house all gussied up in a pretty black dress by clearing out the house, put on makeup by staging and maybe even get a manicure and a pedicure, landscaping and exterior improvements. Next are the pictures, and preparation of marketing materials, and finally I push the send button, and the listing is live!!
Then the waiting starts; they’re hoping for the first call or online showing request. It seems to take forever, but eventually, it arrives. Now comes the last minute primping before a showing or the open house. More dusting, straightening and putting things away. Finally, the buyers come and look, sometimes they’re in and out quickly, but maybe they linger. The sellers wonder, what do they think, will they come back for a second look? What other houses are they seeing? If the buyers don’t call quickly, then the sellers start to wonder and worry. Why didn’t they like our house? What’s wrong with them?
My job as an agent is to help my clients, buyers or sellers, understand the emotions, and come to grips with them. My goal is to help them look at the situation with a clear lens, to put the rose colored glasses away and try to focus on what’s important.