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Hawaii Real Estate Buyer Tips

Buyers who want to save time and money should give an experienced agent a chance to tell them how to maximize their time, effort, and energy in the marketplace. It is really so important to set up a meeting to introduce yourself to an agent probably prior to searching hours on the internet. Yes, we know almost three quarters of all buyers start online, but there are some real shortcuts buyers have been taking, and it may not be such a great thing if they skip making the effort to find a buyer representative.

Most agents do both buyer and seller representing. In some cases, they represent a seller and a buyer on the same property. As an agent, I also look forward to meeting new buyers. As a buyer representative, I think it is really old fashioned and kind of nice to shake someone’s hand, and see their sparkling eyes. I want to have a few minutes to “talk story,” and find out who the buyers are and to let them know who I am. I feel their needs to be a common bond of trust and familiarity to go forward into a meaningful negotiation on behalf of the buyer.

To formalize this relationship the buyer can sign a buyer representation contract. A buyer’s search is important to me because it may be a home they live in for the next 7 to 19 years. They may end up raising their family, or be transitioning into retirement. It can be an exciting time and there usually are a lot of challenges in making a move. Establishing a friendly relationship with a buyer helps them feel secure, and it is my first priority to set the context of their needs and how it will impact the quality of their lives for the future.

If a young family is put in a house with a huge mortgage then often stress is what they will bear. A lot of young adults having been raised in an era of prosperity have very high standards. Often their standards are higher than their incomes. My favorite story was the single mother with two teenage daughters. “Mom,” they declared in exasperated despair, “this house has three bathrooms,” and the younger one protested, “I am not walking downstairs to use the one down there. We can’t get this house.”

It was on this occasion I realized the client needed to find exactly the same bedroom, bathroom compromise so the two daughters were exactly equal. Now, I did take a moment to suggest that the house was affordable and this was their Mom’s priority in hopes to teach the daughters to learn to compromise. Since the daughters ultimately had control in the purchasing decision…I was never able to make any progress using logic.

With this in mind, buyers do know what they want and I just keep showing them homes until they find the right one. A few years ago, a lot of buyers purchased so close to their qualifying mark they got into trouble when the economy shifted. Buyers are now in a market to gain off of this unfortunate cause and effect. I try to think about real estate as an investment potential that grows with you. Everyone for years always perceived owning real estate as a guarantee to make a profit. It had been fairly predictable until the recent collapse, but you always had heard people say, “timing is everything” in relation to buying at the bottom and selling at the top. It is also true when making an offer.

Buyers want all the questions answered prior to making the offer. I always tell them you ask all the questions after you get the offer accepted. While buyer A is out there making an offer on the house you liked, buyer B may be writing up a list of questions he wants his agent to answer. By the time buyer B’s agent gets the questions, the house is in contract with buyer A. This is using “time” to your advantage.

Although you can find good deals on the market if you find a short sale or foreclosure, often the process is very long and frustrating. Not all buyers can wait out the process. Sometimes the interest rates go up from the initial quote the lender gave a buyer and they no longer qualify on the offer they made. It is kind of an old-school idea to start small and work your way up. For beginning buyers, I try to get them to look ahead two years and think what will make the most sense as far as commuting and financially. Location has been a solid way to keep values stable in a challenged market.

Commuting is also a key factor in daily obligations which should be considered. Buyers can search the internet and find great houses, but they need a little perspective from an agent who might ask the questions to trigger considerations a buyer may not have thought of. A buyer is in a great driver’s seat. I recommend buyers select an accredited buyer representative (ABR) who is the “transaction negotiator” who represents the buyer in the transaction. There are no fees in retaining a buyer agent as in most transactions the sellers agree to pay the buyer’s agent when a transaction closes.

Feel free to call me, or e-mail me with questions or comments. I always welcome working with buyers in my marketplace.

Aloha, Diane Chavez RS, ABR, GRI, diane@hawaiilife.com

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