Creamed Spinach / House Buying Hell

My paying job is as a Realtor. When I am not cooking, arguing with teenagers, singing baby shark with a 7-year-old or nagging my significant other for not being able to do 12 things at once, I sell houses. Let’s get one thing clear - all those shows like “Millionaire Dollar Listing,” “House Hunters,” “Property Brothers,” etc. are lies. Damn dirty, blatant, lies.

Let's discuss buyers. More specifically, first time buyers. I understand completely that my clients are usually only doing this once or twice in their life so they have no clue how all of this works. It just doesn’t help that they have been falsely informed by all these shows.

Shows like “Property Brothers” are misleading. Yes, there is a “Worst House in the Best Neighborhood” theory. The problem is if that neighborhood is one of the best, then the investors with big trucks and full pockets already know about it. What you are looking for is the “Kinda Ugly House in the Almost Up and Coming Neighborhood.”

That damn “House Hunters” show. Three houses really? You are evil and must be stopped. Most people look at dozens of houses, some over a years time. We do not just show three houses, make a list of pros and cons and then meet in the coffee shop and make an offer, that of course will be accepted. There are in general two types of buyers - 1. The elusive single property buyer, they know what they want they just want you to take care of it and 2. The buyer that must go through the whole process.

The beginning stage of "I want all of this - Here is my budget / What I want”. I send them a list of houses in their price range and usually it isn’t what they are expecting. Once they have recovered from the shock of how much more it will cost to get everything they want we move on to the “Dreamhouse” stage. It is a sad day when, after they have seen a dozen or so houses they realize that a “Dreamhouse” is just that - in their dreams. It always breaks my heart a little to see their excitement wane and reality set in. This is when I inform them that what they need is a house they can make into their perfect house - get a house that you can afford to change to suit you. Just like relationships, no one is perfect, houses need to be forgiven their faults too. They didn’t put those awful blue cabinets in that was an ex and now you just need to paint them over and let the healing begin.

Once we are past the giant expectations we proceed into the “Let me sleep on it” stage. This is when they learn that if it is a seller's market most houses are sold while you are sleeping. While you are sleeping there is a weary buyer who has already moved on to the next stage of

“Screw you, you are not getting my house” stage. This is my second favorite stage, my clients become warriors. They have the battle scars of house hunting and they aren’t playing games anymore. They are getting this house! These are the times I meet them at the house with a full price offer in hand and we both agree that unless there is a gate to hell in the kitchen we are not losing this house. On to stage…

“They said what?”

Inspections, appraisals, and lenders Oh My! Here is where the real stress comes in. The dreaded list of what is wrong with the house. It is very overwhelming at first. If you aren’t buying a brand new house there will be issues. The questions are how severe are the issues. Once again like relationships, it is a matter of what you can handle. You would probably marry someone that has a few quirks but if you find out they are a recently released from the psych ward for hurting kittens you would choose to walk away. Once we decide that the house is worth your understanding and patience we move on.

Appraisers… oh the dreaded appraiser. Don’t get me wrong, we do not dread all appraisers. We just have the ones we dread. The ones that just have to be the smartest person on Earth. Most of the time you don’t even see the appraiser. They are the ghosts in the house buying world. You can sense they are there but as soon as you notice them poof gone again. Every once in a while though you will get that one. They are on a mission to show you how much smarter they are than you. This is when you have to challenge them. Hoo... they do not like to be challenged by a lowly Realtor. I even had one get so angry they came back with a lower price. Strange - don’t you think that you are trying to prove me wrong by saying you were wrong? To all the appraisers that don’t do this, you are greatly appreciated and we see you. The next stage

“If they ask me for one more piece of paper!”

Whatever aggravation you had with me is now transferred to your lender. To be fair, lenders only get one fun part, the closing. Realtors get two - house hunting and handing over the keys. I have had buyers break down in tears over how many hoops they had to jump through. Yell at me, “What do they want? My firstborn child? Do I sell them my soul?” All of this is silently controlled by the ever elusive “Underwriters.” I have never met one in my entire career. Every time I hear the word underwriter I think of that scene in Wizard of Oz of that Giant floating head. I imagine the lender walking into this room shyly putting the paperwork towards them and thunder claps and the room shakes as the booming head says, “No, that is not enough! Bring me their bank statements from June 3-4 from 1-2 p.m.” I am sure this is not even close to how this goes but it is how I want to picture it so here we are.

Now Imagine starting this whole process after watching those shows. You are not prepared for the madness that will ensue. A first timer has dreams of copper sinks and garden tubs floating through their heads. I, unfortunately, I am tasked with the job of crushing those dreams. The one thing they do get right is the end. In the end, it is all worth it. The final step is the best one. They get their house and by damned they have earned it! Now it is their turn to paint the cabinets blue because damn it, it is their house and they can do whatever they want with it.

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