The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Cause It Just Doesn't 'Feel' Right

Clients I’ve Attempted to Force To Be More Analytical: 5
Clients I’ve Successfully Rehabilitated of Their Emotionality: 0
Dents I’ve Put In My Wall With My Own Forehead: 12

In my opinion (did anyone see The Good Wife this week? ‘IN MY OPINION!’), all buyers are one of two things: Analytical or Emotional. They either need data, charts and numbers that unarguably prove a house is perfect for them or they need an emotional connection with the property that lets them know this is the house.

I kind of think it’s like what they say about being gay, though; it’s a spectrum thing. There’s the uber-analytical side of the spectrum (where the engineers and attorneys always fall) and the extreme-emotional buyer (this is where the ladies with crystals and cats who visit their ‘spiritual advisers’ would sit). Most people would fall somewhere in between, but generally to one side or the other of dead center.

A buyer I signed a contract with last night is definitely on the more analytical side. For her, the house was right because she could see proof that she was getting the best price anyone has gotten on that model, she had read the HOA bylaws and knew that if she could rent it out (even though she’s not planning on that), had researched the school districts (even though she doesn’t have kids right now) and had driven by the house at night to see if the street light in back was bright enough to be annoying. All of her research came back with positive results, so she knew that it was The House.

I had another buyer a couple of years back who had really general criteria for the house she wanted (bigger than the apartment they were in, with a yard, Ahwatukee, Tempe or Chandler) and when we started looking at houses, I quickly realized she was at the very other end of the spectrum. We would step into a house and she would take a quick peek in and step out and say, ‘No, that’s not the one. Didn’t feel right.’ When I pressed her for specifics about wasn’t right about the house (it’s difficult to retool an MLS search based on Chakrahs) she stuck with the reasoning that ‘something just wasn’t right’. Was it the lower ceilings? Well, yes, she said, she likes higher ceilings, but if it was the right house and had lower ceilings, that would be OK. Her husband just shrugged and when she turned around rolled his eyes. I never did find them a house. They ended up moving back East instead. So I will forever wonder what was ‘right’ for her (I did, however, learn during one of our many trips out, that you can make a print of a placenta right after a baby is born with the blood from the placenta that looks like a tree and frame it and put it in your house. Her husband did much eye rolling and pantomimed vomiting during this story also. I liked him.).

I tend to be of the more analytical variety. This is likely because the analysis of properties is the only thing i can control. I can refine searches, assemble data, find supporting graphs, pull comps. I cannot, however, feel for my clients. With 40,000ish properties on the market in Metro-Phoenix, emotional buyers tend to make me feel like I can’t control anything. They also stress me out (in a completely irrational manner on my part) that they are making the wrong choice because it’s based heavily on emotion. I’m kind of like Spock; emotion feels ‘illogical’ to me.

Most recently (a version of this has happened before, you’d think I’d learn, you’d also be wrong), I had a buyer who I was showing house after house after house and who wasn’t making a decision based on anything I could quantify. We talked about features of the houses until we were blue in the face and found properties I thought were perfect and it seemed she did, too, but when when it came down to it she wasn’t ready to pull the trigger because it wasn’t right. I decided to take things into my own hands and create an informational spread sheet for her. I thought if we could fill in all of the info about the houses and grade certain criteria (for example: The community for house #1 gets a B) as we went then I could make everything come clear for her. The data would show that she really liked a house the best and then we could make an offer! I was utterly convinced this would solve all of our house finding problems and really excited to go on our next house hunting trip and try it out.

She’s a nice girl, so she went along with my spread sheet and diligently filled in data, but I could tell by house #4 that it didn’t really matter to her. I was consulting the chart and gauging how good the houses were by the data, but for her, it was a general happy feeling of all of the things she liked in a house coming together. She didn’t need a chart for that, she could just tell.

And that’s when I realized I have to relinquish control. It’s not my job to tell my clients which house is perfect for them. It’s not even my job to agree with them. It’s my job to make the houses available and then to help them obtain the one they eventually pick. That’s all I can do (all the while banging my head against a wall as we go).

7 Responses to Cause It Just Doesn't 'Feel' Right

  1. I think the placenta print is kinda cool. And — not shockingly — I think I’m more on the spiritual crystal “it just doesn’t feel right” side of things. Good thing my realtor can see both sides.

  2. Ack – no placenta print for me! (I’ve also heard some people plant a tree in their yard with placenta as “fertilizer”… apparently there is some kind of tree-placenta connection.) I am definitely more analytical, although sometimes I’m not that great at articulating my reasoning. Maybe you should change your business card to Realtor/Mind Reader?

  3. Placenta print? Ewwwwww.

  4. The data/analytics have to be in favor of a house for me to even set foot in it and go look at it. But in the end, it still has to “feel right.” With both of our houses, we knew from the moment we walked in the door that it was the right one, but it was the data that helped us narrow it down to which ones to actually go see (we only looked at 6 houses for our first one and 3 for our second). Like you said, it’s a spectrum thing. We’re way far on analytical (both engineers), but there’s still a dollop of “gut” to go with it.

  5. Kell – Yep. :)

    Sarah – See, that is what I think frustrates me. I tend to think that all of the ‘feelings’ are actually unrecognized quantifiable things. Lots of windows, or a big great room, a large lot, no 2-stories behind crowding it. And sometimes I can get it specified by asking a lot of questions, but sometimes a feeling remains unnamed and I’m thwarted.

    Dad – Right?

    Erin – That is so true. And as a buyer myself, I definitely felt it. It’s sometimes tough to remember the ‘gut’ and respect it as an agent, but it is important.

  6. As a buyer, I found your insights very true on both sides. When I walked into the particular house I chose, I liked it right away..it felt comfortable and I knew I could live there. Emotionally, I was jumping for joy. But even as I was planning where my furniture would go and all the touches I would add, the analytical side of me was saying, hold up, I know you love it, but is it practical. Similar to a relationship, ok this guy is hot, but is there anything beyond that? So after I fell for the house, I stepped back and researched the house….I checked the stats on the zip code, checked the schools, checked every aspect of the house that I could quantify… and my analytical side was fulfilled. So for me, it is a little of both.

  7. Suzanne, I think that is a really good comparison. Finding the perfect house IS like finding the perfect man. You have to feel passionately toward him AS WELL as knowing he will be a good partner (and potentially, father). You have to rely on both sides for it to work long term. Good point.

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