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Fighting Buyer Burnout

House Hunt

The cliché is that buying a house is not a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Sometimes it can take years for a buyer to find the right house, and then they have to make an offer that is acceptable to the sellers to begin negotiating.  These days demand is so great that listing agents are setting offer dates, appointing dates and times when sellers will look at offers, and then opening them like presents on Christmas morning.  So in addition to everything else buyers are finding themselves pitted in psychological brutal bidding wars, agonizing over how much to offer.  Are they overbidding and paying too much?  Are they underbidding and paying too little?  What happens if they miss out on their dream house?

This process has some buyers at their wits end.  They’re sick of getting their hearts set on homes where they are visualizing raising their kids only to have another buyer come in and out dance them at the offer date disco. Or properties are getting scooped up and attracting acceptable offers even before they come on the market.  It’s enough to turn off some buyers.  Other buyers are sticking around until the early summer, but at some point their home buying obsessions will become too burdensome and they are going to turn their attentions to camping, vacations, and other summertime activities that are more pleasurable than getting their home buying dreams crushed.

It’s really awful and not a joking matter for those going through it.  The worst part of it will be when the buyers finally decide to give up.  Melissa Bradley used to use a gold miner analogy, where someone’s digging for gold and they give up and pack it in.  Then the next miner comes along and hits pay-dirt in the same spot.  House hunting can be like that.

When things seem bad this summer, and buyers have finally decided they’ve had enough they should not quit.  Discouragement in these situations is a natural thing.  Wanting to string your Realtor up by the toes for not advising you to make a larger or more attractive offer is common.  All this is okay as long as you aren’t the one who quits. 

Let the other buyers you’ve been competing against be the quitters.  Interest rates and prices are still low.  Despite the daunting competitive landscape if you score the right house it’s absolutely the right time to buy.  The rewards of finding the right house can be reaped for a lifetime, that’s why it’s worth trying so hard.

So what is the best way to fight buyer burnout?  Try not to get too emotionally invested in or excited about any single house before you write an offer that is accepted.  A wonderful Realtor I was fortunate to know, Darren Coleman, RIP, used to say that if your buyers weren’t able to get the right house it wasn’t meant to be.  I remember she had one set of buyers who wrote nine offers before finally finding a great house they were delighted to purchase.  A few years ago I outdid Darren and I think I wrote sixteen offers for one buyer before they were able to get the condo they wanted.  Then they ended up buying several more.

It is possible that in the mix of properties you are going after you will miss out on a great house.  It can be horribly deflating.  But I think the best advice that I’ve been able to give, and I’ve always been right about this, there’s always another house coming on the market.

Read Andy Falk's blog on San Rafael Patch.

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