Real estate agents are walking, talking one-stop shops of great advice on how to buy a home. Yet amid the flurry of questions you might be asking in order to close your deal, you may have missed the juiciest question of all: How do real estate agents buy their own homes?
In the same way a fashion designer’s closet is particularly on trend or a sommelier’s wine cellar has some hidden gem of a Chianti few have tasted, real estate agents have their own insider tricks for scoring a real estate deal. Guess what? Most are perfectly happy to share for all who ask!
Check out these five stories for how they scored their own homes for a whole new insider’s perspective.
1. ‘I was first in line’
When Brendan O’Donnell with Center Coast Realty in Chicago saw a sweet condo listing pop up on the multiple listing service, he knew it wasn’t going to last, based on how quickly similar properties were selling.
“I was the first buyer to see the condo, mere hours after it was listed,” he says. “I didn’t offer the full asking price, but because I came in with a strong offer so quickly, the sellers felt confident accepting it.”
Lesson learned: When your agent calls to tell you there’s a hot new listing, drop everything and go see it.
2. ‘I took my sweet time’
But not all agents rush to new listings. Some, such as Christina Souretis with Engel and Völkers in Pembroke, MA, wait until they’ve gone a bit stale.
“Putting an offer on a just-listed, perfectly updated home will never get you a deal,” Souretis explains, adding that her favorite trick is to focus her buyers on homes that have been on the market for more than 21 days.
That’s how she ended up buying property that had been languishing on the market—for $120,000 below asking price no less.
3. ‘I house-hunt in the fall and winter’
Houses just look better in the summer, due to the added sunlight and fresh flowers on the porch. But as Marie Bromberg, an agent with Corcoran in Brooklyn, NY, knows all too well, “This means sellers are liable to collect top dollar.”
Her solution? “I wait until the summer frenzy is over, when houses have less traffic and waning curb appeal,” she says. “That’s how I was able to nab a great deal on my own house. I made an offer during Thanksgiving weekend, when open houses were deserted.”
4. ‘I delivered my offer in person’
When Michael Hausam, an agent with the Hausam Group at Shore Capital in Irvine, CA, found a house he loved, he decided to meet with the seller personally—before they even started talking numbers—and he explained why the house was ideal for his expanding family. While many buyers may include a personalized “love letter” with their offer, Hausam believes the in-person delivery was key.
“If it had just been emailed over, the listing agent would have immediately scrolled down to look at the bid price and ignored everything else,” he says. He now uses this technique with all his clients and suggests others try it.
“The personal connection makes it easier and smoother to put a transaction together,” he says. “When I was standing there negotiating, my request for a better deal was much harder to refuse.”
5. ‘I followed up with a stubborn seller until he caved’
Home buying is a numbers game, says Lucas Machado, a real estate agent and president of House Heroes in Sunny Isles Beach, FL. He scored a deal on a property by spreading his net wide. Basically, “I submitted below-list-price offers on many houses I found suitable, knowing that having lots of irons in the fire is the only way to play to win,” Machado explains.
While most home sellers weren’t interested in playing ball with this bargain hunter, Machado stayed in touch with one seller, knowing that his refusal might soften in time.
“I followed up once a month to reiterate my interest,” he says. “I found that the seller was much more reasonable when the house was still on the market after a long wait, and I was pretty much the only potential buyer still paying attention.”
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