Let’s be honest. Buying a property in today’s capital city markets is a bit of a dance, involving you, the real estate agent, the mysterious seller and your expectations.
Agents know how to deal with buyers — what to ask them, how to impress them —but some buyers still talk to agents like they are working for you. They are not. They might be nice, but it’s because they want your money.
It may seem like a trifling matter, but the language buyers use can be the difference between overpaying and buying at market value. Here are four things you should never say to a real estate agent.
Mistake one: “I have (insert dollar figure here) to spend!”
Real estate agents want to know how much you have to spend, but buying a property is no different from any other negotiation and you shouldn’t reveal your hand too early.
“Until agents stop underquoting then there really is no onus on you to reveal how much you have to spend,” says buyer’s agent and founder of Property Mavens, Miriam Sandkuhler.
“There are good agents and bad agents, of course, but essentially what they are trying to ascertain is whether you have the money to reach where they are hoping to take the property.”
Fellow buyer’s agent Patrick Bright says it is best to give agents a very “rough guide” of your range based on the types of properties you’re inspecting, but once they know your real budget “a selling agent will do everything they can to extract every cent out of you, especially if they haven’t reached the reserve or the vendor’s bottom line yet”.
Mistake two: “I love it!”
Big, big mistake, and one that is very hard to come back from, says Ms Sandkuhler.
“Buying a home is all about emotion and agents are trying to trade on that emotion,” she says.
“You don’t want to be so aloof and cool that you seem completely uninterested, but you should always say you are buying for investment purposes.
“And certainly don’t run around picking out children’s bedrooms and telling them where the furniture will go.”
If you unable to divorce emotion from house hunting then it is best to use the services of a buyer’s agent, according to Ms Sandkuhler.
Property investor Stephen Zamykal will also nit-pick a property in front of an agent.
“Even if I like it I will focus on the flaws,” he says.
“And I also let them know I have another property in mind, even if I don’t.”
Mistake three: “We are so keen to buy!”
Ms Sandkuhler also recommends home hunters keep mum about their reasons for purchasing; don’t, for instance, tell an agent your rental lease is expiring soon and you really need to buy.
“Tell them very little about your circumstances because, as far as I am concerned, that stuff is off the table, it really isn’t relevant,” she says.
Mr Bright agrees that property hunters should always play the “indifferent buyer”.
“Never let them know your motivation to buy,” he says.
“If you’re buying property with your partner, let one person do all of the talking and have all the communication with the agent otherwise the agent will easily play one of you off against the other in order to get information out of you.”
Mistake four: “I think the property is worth (insert dollar figure here)”
A few agents may ask for your estimation on what the property is worth.Stephen Zamykal recommends to try and avoid this trap as it is just a way for an agent to gauge how much you would be willing to pay.
“I would respond to this question by telling them I like to do my research first,” says Mr Zamykal.
“Or you could even flip it around and ask them what they think it is worth.
“Tell them you are there to find out the value from them.”