Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An apology in advance to realtors, if there are any reading this

Not that what I have to say isn't true, but you may not want to hear it.

I went to see a house in a new development next to a golf course yesterday. (No, we don't golf. But we do like nice landscaping, lakes and built-in lawn upkeep.) I had initially pulled the information on this new house for cost per square foot comparison purposes with the builder-who-wants-the-sun-and-moon. It was cheaper by a significant amount and I was wondering what he did that they didn't. When I showed the listing to my husband, he said it looked interesting and why not go take a look?

So I called the listing agent and made arrangements t0 meet her there. Let me say right now that it was one of those new developments with the clubhouse and pool and the office in the model home where you have to go sign in to see the property. I felt like I was trying to get into Fort Knox. So, I got in the realtor's car and we started down the street looking for the address. We circled through and finally decided that the address listed was the open lot three doors down from the clubhouse. I.E., THERE WASN'T A HOUSE THERE YET! I don't know where they got the picture of the house on the MLS listing, but it sure wasn't here. However, it was one of the standard plans they were building, and there was a nearly completed identical one around the corner so we went in that one.

From the front it looked so promising. Only two steps to a nice front porch, which made the elevation not too high to add a ramp. It was attractive inside, too, with three bedrooms downstairs and a guest room with bath and unfinished attic storage upstairs. We weren't really looking for a house with any room upstairs, but putting the guest suite up there was a practical thing. (I was already figuring out how to make the unfinished bonus space a sewing room!)

Then I opened the door to the garage and it all went to crap. This was a plan with the garage in the rear off an alley. The lot was lower in the rear, enough that there were seven steps down to the garage floor. That many steps absolutely won't work, so this unit was off the list.

As if the house wasn't enough of a disappointment, this realtor is running her mouth the whole time we're looking around, interrupting me as I'm trying to explain what kind of house we have to have. And she's pushing some development up the road, talking about how this house is overpriced and not very well done and Mulberry Park is so much better, yadda, yadda, yadda. I had the distinct impression what was happening is her company was hooked up with this new Mulberry Park thing and she would make a lot more money selling one of those houses.

After I while I just wanted to kill her and hide the body in one of that house's many walk-in closets.

So, we leave and I tell her I will drive by Mulberry Park on the way home (mostly to shut her up). Except it's not on the way home, but waaaaay out of town and not in a handy place. I loop through and peruse the place anyway, and yeah, it's all Craftsman style and cute and everything, but it's very crowded together and I really wanted brick no-maintenance exterior. I stop at the office and check out the available floorplans, and none of them are more than 1800 sq. ft. This after I repeatedly said that we have a 2000 sq. ft. house and are not interested in downsizing.

So here is the root of my gripe: is there a realtor out there that will really listen to you and try to find the house you want? Because this isn't the first time this has happened to me. When we were looking for our last house, I gave the lady a detailed explanation of what our needs were before we even looked at a single property. (Let me add that this isn't me being overly picky, but actual handicap accessibility issues.) And after all that, she drives us to a two story house. I looked at her and said, just what part of one level house do you not understand? It was like she was going to trot us around to all the properties she had languishing on the market in the hopes she could fob one of them off on us. She made no real effort to try to locate a house we could use.

We've found the last two houses we bought by ourselves. I've never gotten any help worth mentioning from a realtor. The realtor for our first house was a bored doctor's wife that sold houses for something to do. She surely didn't need the money; in fact, she cut her commission to lower our price. I've only dealt with one realtor that approached the job in a businesslike manner, and it was a man. (OK, even I winced when I said that.) All the female realtors we've seen try to manipulate you emotionally to sell you on a house and push the properties that make the most money for them.

I've been thumbing through the MLS for weeks now, finding a good 90% of the houses have to be removed from consideration immediately due to handicap accessibility issues. The remaining ones are either too small, or too far out of town, or waaaaay too much money.

So I'm irritated and disappointed and depressed with the whole process. It took two years to find the house we're in now, and I was a whole lot younger then. I'm not sure I can do it again.

1 comment:

Pieceful Afternoon said...

I understand your pain. We have had the same problem for four years. Each time we became so discouraged that we stopped looking for a house.

Then one day we got a new agent - she ALSO didn't understand, one level, no stairs and flat house - no busy streets, no trailer parks, no freeway nearby. She sent us info on houses that were on super busy streets, two and three stories, near the freeway, in bunched up claustrophobic parks, etc, etc. She is the best we've found so far - which is NOT good.

One thing though, she never lied to us - and when we found the house we wanted (most people have to find the house and then make the agent take them to see it) she was super helpful, had things ready for signing on time - helped us to understand how to make an offer that would get accepted and at last we are in our 9 year old house, no drainage problems, no leaks, nice yard (not big, not tiny) quiet with trees on three sides and all on one level.

We love the house - love the neighborhood and almost like the agent. She also tried to give us the emotional sales pitch - but we knew what we wanted. So hang in there - find something you like and make them show it to you - even if it isn't their listing. They still make some money off the sale. Good luck.