1. Freak-outs and buyer’s remorse.

I tend to joke with buyers and sellers alike that the on the day an offer or counter-offer is ratified, both parties spend the evening riddled with remorse: the buyers think the accepted offer means they could have gotten the place for less, and the sellers think it means they could have demanded more!  Okay, so it’s not totally a joke.

All jokes aside, it is the case that some buyers rue the day they closed on a home for years and years to come. This often happens, in my experience, when the home itself doesn’t turn out to be highly functional for their lives, the place turns out to be a lemon or the buyers find themselves overextended financially and end up in mortage distress.

Clearly, the decision-making on all of these issues – house “fit,” house condition, and how much to spend – are ultimately the buyer’s decision, not yours.  Condition surprises are only avoidable via scrutinizing disclosures and having inspections.

But I have found one exercise to be a powerful way agents can help eliminate later remorse – I call it, the Vision of Home exercise.  Before you ask them to get into the nitty-gritty details of the sort of house they hope to buy, in terms of bedrooms, bathrooms and the like, ask your buyer clients to sit down and journal out their vision for their life after they move into the home.  Tell them to go whole hog and cover what they see in their minds’ eye on topics including, but not limited to:

  • who they envision living in the home over the next 5 or 10 years
  • what sorts of things all those people will likely do, inside and outside of the home, for work, school, play and downtime (i.e., will they spend their Saturdays walking to the farmer’s market, hiking the regional parks or hammering away on home improvement projects)
  • where everyone will go to school or work, and how they will get there, and
  • how much they want to work, and any changes in their work lives that they would like to make in the next few years, like starting their own business, telecommuting or changing jobs or industries (this point goes both to how much they spend andsome of the home amenities they will need).

From there, you can work with them to move to more granular details, like the beds, baths, square feet and location details of a home that should help them realize their vision of home. And here’s how you resolve a freak-out:  if or when the buyer gets panicked post offer-acceptance, whip this original Vision of Home document right on out.

At that time, or just before you remove contingencies, you can walk through this document with them, and one of two things will likely happen: they will be delighted to find that, even after the inevitable house hunt compromises, the place still will help them fulfill most of the items on their life vision wish list or they will realize that they have wandered too far astray from their original vision and back out while they still have the opportunity to find the right home for them.