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The Top 5 Myths Shared by Home Buyers

By Marcus Fleming, Purplebricks REALTOR® | April 26, 2019

Recently, I came across an article listing top myths shared by first-time home buyers. I often see many of these myths borne out in my daily work, and I believe they’re worth elaborating on. After all, there are so many nuances involved, and I think it’s important to explain, not only that these are myths, but “why” they are myths, and how first-time homebuyers can use them to rethink important parts of the buying process. Buying a home is one of the most important decisions most of us will ever make in life, so it pays to go in with the best and most up-to-date information possible.

So with that said, here are the top 5 myths shared by first time home buyers (and what to do about them):

Myth #1: All real estate agents are the same.
I actually feel pretty bad for my friends and family, because they have certainly heard me go on about this one ad nauseam. I’m very passionate when it comes to changing the expectation of REALTORS®. True, becoming a real estate agent is easier and faster than getting a PhD, and the barrier to entry is lower than many other professional pursuits. However, like most professional pursuits worth actually pursuing, it doesn’t stop with the certification — it’s what you do with that coveted piece of paper than matters.

A good REALTOR® takes the time to get to know their neighborhood, continually addresses new buyers’ and sellers’ needs and stays on top of market trends. On the education side, agents can obtain additional certifications to round out their experience, including a Certified Residential Specialist designation (CRS), Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR) certification or a Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI) designation. Agents with an eye for the design can become specialists in home staging, while those with an interest in aging in place can become a Senior Real Estate Specialist (SRES).

Myth #2: The agent on the “for sale” sign will look out for my best interests.

I think this is a misunderstanding of how the industry works. Simply put, the agent on the For Sale sign has been hired by the seller and therefore has a primary duty and responsibility to look out for the seller’s best interests. The buyer in any transaction also needs an agent to represent their interests as well, in order to ensure a fair and balanced process. For example, a buyer’s agent can pull neighborhood comps to assess a home’s value and then advise the client on how much to offer. Buyer’s agents can also help answer tough questions regarding the home inspection, financing and overall affordability. In short, both parties on either side of such an important deal need representation — and that two-sided representation can’t come from the same person.

Myth #3: I won’t be able to find all the “for sale” properties in my area without an agent’s help.

Back in the dinosaur age (when the internet wasn’t around), REALTORS ® walked around with massive books containing all the homes for sale — and these coveted books weren’t readily accessible or viewable to the public. Hence, you had to hire a REALTOR ® to provide a full picture of the homes available in your area at any given time.

The Internet has changed the game for REALTORS ®, as listing sites like Trulia ®, Zillow ®, Realtor.com ® and now Purplebricks have made property information readily available 24 hours a day to anyone with a device and a basic level of computer savvy. That means, agents’ value no longer lies in their ability to access listing information. Rather, a good agent must go beyond the basics of information access to provide a full-service experience to customers, including market analysis (not just market information) and a human and personal take on each client’s unique situation.

In short, REALTORS ® should no longer find homes for you, they should be helping you select your home. The rest of an agent’s value comes in guiding you through the process and getting you through the finish line.

Myth #4: I shouldn’t settle for less than all the items on my wishlist.

It’s very rare to find a home that ticks every box on your wishlist. And while you’re waiting for that residential unicorn, you might be missing out on some wonderful spaces — and some opportunities to negotiate the price based on what’s missing. That’s why I advise my clients to observe the eight-out-of-ten rule. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Write down your top ten needs and wants for your new home (note: needs come first).
  2. Choose a home that has eight top-ten items out of ten, in priority order.

That’s it! Some time after you find your home and move in, it can be interesting to look back at your original needs and wants. You may find that they’ve changed a great deal as life has evolved.

Myth #5: I’ll improve the odds of finding a house if I work with more than one agent.

When you start the home search, it’s common (and understandable) to want to get out and see as many homes as quickly as possible. By using multiple agents, you might find your home sooner. But when it comes time to write the contract, which of these agents will prove the best in the long haul?

Good agents are hard to come by, and you certainly don’t want to be stuck with a less-than-quality REALTOR ® when the time comes to negotiate on the contract, do the inspection, and undergo the renegotiation and troubleshooting that is often required to keep the contract together. My advice is to choose one agent who’s with you from start to finish; someone who has gotten to know your unique needs and personality over time. This individual will be able to guide you through the process better than someone who has squandered valuable time bidding for your business instead of focusing on your process.

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