Tim’s Two Cents: How Much Does a First Impression Really Matter when it Comes to Buying a Home?

How Much Does a First Impression Really Matter when it Comes to Buying a Home?


Real Estate Market Pulse


Recently, I had difficulty with two appraisals. They came in below the contract value agreed to by the seller and buyer.  Prior to this, I had not witnessed an appraisal issue for about 9-12 months.  I produced a strong case, for a reconsideration of value, to the appraisal company that produced the low valuation.  They altered their appraisal report after considering the comparable sales, and missing property advantages, that I supplied in a narrative.  A second appraisal is out for review as I write! Interest Rates are holding at their lowest levels for the year. Inventory remains very low. Buyers are aggressively bidding on properties days after they hit the market!


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The real estate market in San Diego has been experiencing low inventory for several years now.  A diverse economy, and arguably the best weather in the nation, continue to attract new residents to our city. San Diego possesses a very high monthly rental rate.  When consumers perform a “rent vs. own” analysis, they often discover that they are better off purchasing a home over renting.


Whether you are buying a primary residence, or investment property, your search should always begin by aligning with the right real estate broker.  There are over 20,000 active real estate licensees just in San Diego County. This choice is paramount in the type of market we have been experiencing for the last few years.


After twenty two years of experience in the San Diego real estate market, I tend to work with sellers about 70% of the time, and buyers 30% of the time.  Newer agents, and those that are part time in the industry, typically lack the financial power to maintain a detailed marketing budget. Leadership and strong negotiation skills are honed after many successful transactions.


So, you select an agent and hit the streets in search of a great home.  The inventory is low.  The open houses are packed. You find yourself waiting on the curb to privately tour a property, only to witness all of the other interested buyers in front of you, as their agents replace the key in the lock box following their tour. You tour the same property. Immediately, you see yourself living in the residence, and want to make an offer.  So, what is next?


From the standpoint of an experienced listing broker, I can tell you that first impressions are E V E R Y T H I N G! If you are at an open house, hopefully your broker showed up dressed professionally, and was able to walk you through the property, while providing accurate answers to each of your questions. They will need to be wise enough, throughout their negotiation process, to keep any information that may put you in a position of weakness, to themselves. You would be amazed by how much I learn from clients, that are not accompanied by their agent, or are with an agent that shares too much information with me. This puts the client a definite disadvantage.


As I mentioned earlier, we are in a low supply, heavy demand market.  As a listing broker, I am receiving multiple offers on almost every home I list.  My job is to evaluate the total package within each offer…from the buyer’s situation, to their agent’s experience level. One of the most important criteria is the presentation of the offer. I am amazed at how many experienced agents do not know the first thing about the residential purchase contract.  This is the road map to success for the escrow period.  Presenting an offer with grey area could potentially result in a legal dispute.  I receive offers with client’s names misspelled, missing information, and pertinent boxes that are not checked. The immediate perception is, if these details are handled in such a careless fashion at the very beginning of the trade, then how will things unfold over a 30-60 day escrow period?


Lender information should be included with the offer.  The lender should have the buyer’s loan underwritten to the point that all they need is a property address, and appraisal.  I receive numerous offers without a loan approval accompanying the offer. This offer is worthless.


Kristine, and I, do things differently for our clients.  First, we always dress for success.  We own and operate our business.  We take a tremendous sense of pride in being business owners, & are always cognizant of our reputation. Therefore, it is our goal to present ourselves as full time, experienced business professionals. We are assuming the responsibility of assisting our committed clients with the largest financial undertaking of their lives. Their total satisfaction throughout the process is our number one priority.


Next, we attempt to learn all that we can going into a property showing through having a conversation. We still drive clients in our vehicles to see properties. We provide a comparative market analysis of the last 6 months sales activity, and review those sales with our clients prior to writing an offer. We write our own offers, and present a sample that we take the time to explain to our clients.  I always take 30-45 minutes to review and paraphrase each section of the Residential Purchase  Agreement with clients when we make our first offer on a new home search.  Then, I obtain signatures and submit to the seller’s agent.  Furthermore, I call to make certain that the agent is aware that our new offer is waiting for them.


I strongly believe that our next steps set our client’s offer apart from all other competitive offers.  In a low inventory market this is what makes all the difference.  I call the lender, and have them reach out to the seller’s agent.  I ask them to please share all of the great things about our client, such as the client’s financial ability to perform, and to reassure the seller’s agent that all has been done to have my buyers completely ready to purchase a home.  The lender can also add reinforcement by sharing their own experience, the strength of their lending institution, and the synergy they have with Skoglin Real Estate.


We will also have our clients write a short, friendly letter to the sellers to share who they are as people.  We will have them include a photo to make the letter even more memorable. Many times we will offer suggestions and advise what to share.


After our client’s offer is presented in this fashion, I diligently follow up with the seller’s agent. It is important that a seller’s agent hear emotion in your voice. I share that we manage all of our own work throughout the entire transaction. When agents, and sellers, notice how we fight for our clients, it often results in our clients being awarded the home of their dreams!


It’s a lot of work. This is why you must hire someone who will portray you in the best light from the start.  Otherwise, in this escalating market, you will miss out on the home. All too frequently, the next property in the same area to hit the market will inevitably be at a higher price.  If time, money, and sanity are things you value, hire someone that treats your business as if it were their own. Entrust an experienced real estate broker, who is passionate about every facet of their business, & strives to see that you fulfill your dream of owning your own piece of America’s Finest City!

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