I have the honor and privilege to mentor new agents who are on our real estate team or attend classes I volunteer to teach for new agents. One of the questions I get often is “If there is one thing you would tell a new Buyer agent about first time Buyers, what it would be?”
There are so many things to say on this topic. It could be that you are helping someone with the biggest purchase of their lives and the responsibility that goes with that. I could be the roller-coaster of emotions that are involved in buying a house; however, when I think of a first time buyer and the role of an agent I put on my counseling hat and start with you are going to need to be a counselor. You are their trusted advisor, counselor, and expert. It’s easy to be an expert- it’s called experience and knowing you don’t know everything and you need to be problem solver and solution “finder”. Sometimes you need to check your ego at the door and find an expert that knows more about septic designs, easements, and installing. It’s harder to be a counselor, it takes being a good listener and truly understanding what a client is feeling. That said, I want to share my one thing I think agents and first time buyers need to recognize. When a Buyer puts a home under contract and starts the process of being a home owner, you are now becoming an adult in an adult world. This is a break from a world of being a young adult to an “adult” and the roles of parents, friend, and family change. Parents have been comfortable with a son or daughter moving out and renting, but until now their parents could protect them from making a wrong “BIG” decision. They were comfortable with them in the pigeon hole called a “renter”. Suddenly they are making “big boy or girl” decisions and their parents may not be involved. Friends who don’t own a home yet may feel threatened that their friend is moving forward into the world of adulthood before they are ready. Friends often try to put them back into the “pigeon hole or box” because they are more comfortable with their friends being like them- renters. Siblings can also feel this way, but I find parents and friends subconsciously try to sabotage the purchase more often than family.
So what does an agent say to a first time home Buyer who has parents who are trying to protect them-especially at a building inspection? The building inspection is often the first time parents are involved and it’s where they make their stand. The first thing I ask the agent is: are the parents right? Is it a bad decision to buy this house? We walk away from houses that are homes that need too much work or have problems that will affect the value when they try to resell it all the time; however, when the parents are clouded by their own fears it’s up to the agent to counsel the Buyer. I say, “John, your parents mean well, but they are stuck in a paradigm that they are comfortable with- buying a house is a huge symbol of your independence and that they no longer control your decisions. That’s scary for them and they just want to put you back into that box where you are safe.” Now don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of parents who encourage their children to a buy house or invest in property, but the purpose of this article is focus on the one thing that I find is the biggest hurdle that I see in helping first time buyers purchase a home. Counseling skills are so important and observing behavior is as well. Our job is to advise our clients and it is our clients who decide what they think is best for them. Pointing out the strong emotions that are involved and talking about them helps the client have a better understanding of the dynamics of parent involvement in the process.
In my next Blog I will discuss the “Mac and Cheese every night” counseling session I have with my first time Buyers. That’s probably the first counseling session I have with my Buyers. That said, there’s more than one thing I would tell an agent when asked what is the “One Thing”.