Trying on Buying

Buying a home is an exciting, sometimes-daunting and often unexpected experience for many people. 

Few things in life can match the excitement of deciding to earnestly look for a new home.  Sure it’s fun to go shopping for a new vehicle, TV, laptop or clothes. Those are items that can give you temporary contentment. But a home? Man, that’s the place you’ll call your sanctuary, experience many of your most meaningful life experiences and feel most secure. It’s a whole new level of experience and cost and it’s interesting to witness how people can react to the task of physically viewing places.

I know many people usually spend a few months checking out listings online through realtor.ca before they get serious or interested enough to start viewing places in person. Looking at pictures of homes is great – but it can’t replace the value of physically being at a property.  Sometimes what you see isn’t exactly what you want. People can fall in love with a place before they ever see it. My job is to get them to remove their tunnel vision and look at them objectively.

Let’s use online dating as a parallel. That person who looks amazing, has a great background of varied interests and appears to be funny and charming may be all of those things. Or not.  Once you meet them in person, they might have used a picture that’s 20 years out of date, have a nasty belching habit and racist opinions.  You just never know. Homes can be kind of like that.                  

Some common responses I hear when I start showing places to clients are: “This doesn’t look at all like the pictures” or “Wow, its much smaller than I thought” or “I didn’t know there was a major street right behind here.”

Yep, realtors usually hire professional photographers to market the property and ensure it looks as good as possible. What is not captured in photos are the missing baseboards, 30 year-old withered shingles and a basement that looks like a torture dungeon.      

The expectations of buyers can vary greatly, too.  I often get asked (usually by first-time buyers) “How many places do you show people before they end up buying?”  It’s a hard question to answer because everybody is motivated by different factors.

Without even taking into account that Calgary has experienced a protracted buyers’ market (which has slowly slipped back into more balanced territory), people have been very picky about what they want in a home. It’s my fault, really. I’ve told them they can afford to be picky.   

There is no one-size-fits-all approach with buyers. Price and location are always important factors. But so are style, age, and amenities. Some may value certain criteria higher than others. If they only want to see West-facing split-level homes on a corner lot in Roxboro no older than 1986, well, that’s a limited supply. Patience is key.             

A couple with a young family may want to live in one particular neighborhood that is close to schools or transit, or a retired person wants to move closer to their grandchildren so their sample size of places to look at will be pretty small. It may take longer for that property to emerge but when it does they will usually pounce on it. They may only look at a handful before deciding.  

That’s a very different search than someone who says “I’m looking for something in the Southwest, between 400 and 600 thousand.” There will be literally hundreds of listings to sift through. Of course, I’d get as much specific information as possible to whittle down the search to serious contenders only.

So how many homes should you view before you offer on one?  Depends. I think it’s invaluable to physically get out there to see what your criteria and budget looks like. And if you change your mind after seeing a fair number of places, great. l had a client who started out looking at inner city condos and ended up buying a four-leveI split in the suburbs. So you just never know where it can go.

Sometimes people buy the first place they see. It can happen. Some marry their high school sweethearts after all. Others take much longer.  I would say on average people view 10-20 places before they decide to offer on one. If they have looked at 50 or more places, they are in the upper range!

Whether you want to offer on your 1st or 50th viewing, we can provide the experience and stats needed to establish a fair price for that home in that market. 

One thing l would tell buyers now is that the timing has never been better.  With mortgage rates and terms as good as they are and with supply just starting to shrink a bit, you may lose out on that perfect place. So take your time – just not too long. And call me when you’re ready to view some places in person 🙂            

  – Bob