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The Randomness of Real Estate

Let’s Talk Buyers

Getting buyers get educated and confident about the market is my number one job.

I do a deep dive with homebuyers to understand who they are and what they’re looking for.  I get to know them, their dog(s), their kids, watching them bicker, argue, joke, yell- at me, at each other.  They laugh with their children, or bark on the phone. I get to know their different facets.

I constantly remind myself and my team that despite our best efforts, buying a home can be incredibly stressful.  We don’t always catch people on their best behavior.  I see the spectrum: CEOs who are particularly good at delegating, control freaks who find huge flaws with every listing (those buyers always renovate their apartments).  Quiet introspective buyers who are mistrustful, or brash buyers, unafraid to ask the bold questions of me and everyone.

The deep dive into what buyers want

My buyers and I walk through apartments, trying (in the most loving way) to be Sherlock Holmes.  We discover (or invent) the story of the owners.  We uncover the age of a renovation.

Apartments are time capsules- a certain style of tile, a size of tile, granite counters, cherry wood, hunter green, artifacts of the late 80’s and early 90’s. Even 5-year old renovations start to show their age.  I’ve seen new tags on 30 year-old stoves!  Those advertisements where people use the stove as a storage for sweaters?  That’s totally true.

Style is constantly changing.  Colors are of a moment (Salmon Pink?  Very 90’s).  I see bad design choices, great decorating choices, lots in between.

Over time, I get glimpses of what home means to someone and how that new space will fulfill on those needs.  Perhaps they want small rooms, cozy rooms, or one big massive room, a room for kids to play in.  A kitchen for a real chef.  Wading through all of that visual noise, a decision emerges.

And Yet

Despite all of the work to discover what moves buyers, our preparation to educate buyers and help them gain confidence in the market- and how we are leading people to these amazing Manhattan and Brooklyn homes- I’m stuck with the underlying randomness of real estate.

Timing is everything with property, like it is with most things.  What property happens to be on the market (or available off-market) at a given time when buyers are looking will be what buyers will likely buy.  So many random factors add up: How many things have to line up for a seller to accept a particular offer- this could happen over weeks of negotiation, or could happen in a single day.

How do mortgage rates line up with a buyer’s timing?When does a buyer gets that particular raise at work, which enables them to make the purchase now, versus a year from now.  So many moving parts.

It goes on.  Does an estate decide to be flexible after months of stubbornness?  Are the executors of the estate in a good mood because the stock market is up that day, will they let the apartment go at a reasonable price?

Will a buyer feel good that day and associate that positivity with a particular property?  Was that optimism tied to some random piece of news from that day?  Will they change their mind after visiting a property a second or third time (usually, unless that property is a good fit).  Either way, a random nugget somewhere in the world may have started the momentum towards the purchase.

What about the salesmanship of a broker showing the apartment?  Did a photo in an apartment remind someone of a childhood home?  Maybe a color does the same.  What about good feelings engendered by the sweater that a broker is wearing that particular day?

Or a listing agent who was in a BAD mood and turned off the buyers!  That property could have been the one, but the buyers were skittish and didn’t “feel it” because of an offhand comment.

So much of what happens is random.

And as someone sits in their new apartment, in that building, and their lives unfold by design or by accident, or some combination of the two, they don’t think about the randomness that got them there.

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