I’m going to tell you a story, but know that it makes my poor little heart hurt to relive it. About four months ago, I began working with a new buyer. This buyer had been referred to me by a past client with whom I have a great relationship. I had this buyer in my office for a buyer consultation. During these meetings, I like to really dig in and get to the nitty gritty of what they’re looking for. What’s their motivation in buying? What are their real needs versus their wants? How long do they plan to be in this residence? I really try to find out what exactly animates this buyer and makes them tick so that I can get a feel for what kind of house is going to make them all hot and tingly.
So once I felt that I had a good idea of what type of house this buyer wanted, I happened to mention a house I knew of that I thought might press all of their buttons. So we decided to set an appointment to see that one and a couple of others later in the week. Well, I was right. The house knocked their socks off. The wife was out of her mind over the view (as she should have been!) and the husband loved that there was a three-car garage for his vintage sports car. Those were but two of many things that it hit right on the head. Infinity pool, top-of-the-line kitchen—there wasn’t one thing they could find wrong with it.
As we got back to the car, and after some discussion, I asked, “So, should we write an offer?” They said they wanted to think about it and would get back to me. I was a little surprised, but you know, they’re buying a house. They’re entitled to some time, right? That night, they called me and said, “We love it. Love. It. But we don’t think we should buy the first thing we see. It just doesn’t feel right.” “Well, there’s nothing else like it on the market right now, and it’s a very unique property you aren’t likely to see everyday,” I answered. They countered, “Well, can we just see what else is out there?”
Of course, I have no problem with that. But here’s where it all starts to go downhill. While we continued to look over the course of the next week, someone else bought that house. Right before my guys decided it was the one for them. So now, we’ve spent upwards of four months trying to find that house again. Sadly, we probably won’t. And that house will continue to be the one by which all others are measured.
So the question is, should you buy the first house you see? I understand the fears and concerns. How do you know it’s the right one if you don’t know what else is out there? What if there’s something even better you haven’t seen yet? What if it’s overpriced? Look, at the end of the day, it’s not that hard to see what else is out there. This is the internet age, and you and your agent can pull any and all similar listings and see them right there on the MLS. You’re going to know fairly quickly, within reason, if there are any other homes that you need to see first.
Have your agent pull comparables on the house you’ve zeroed in on. See for yourself how it stacks up to similar homes—if any—that have sold recently in the area. There are some areas where a lot of the homes are somewhat similar and there may be a fair amount of turnover. If this is one of those areas, don’t sweat it too much. Another one will likely be coming down the pike. But in Los Angeles, it’s true there is a lot of unique architecture and a lot of very-difficult-to-find properties. Have your agent do a little research (or perhaps if they know the market well—which they should—they can tell you) on just how likely it is that something similar might pop up in the near future. Sometimes you just have to go with your gut. As I am always hammering into your heads, just do your inspections, complete your due diligence and make sure you’re not overpaying for the house. Make sure you have that appraisal contingency. Ensuring those things is a good first step towards feeling comfortable about the property you’re purchasing.
Should you buy the first house you see? I’m not here to tell you that you should. Do what you feel comfortable with, always. Just don’t let that house be the one that got away.
Jefferson Hendrick is an L.A.-based Realtor with Keller Williams. Contact him with questions, concerns and real estate inquiries at [email protected] or facebook.com/jeffersonhendrickrealtor.