I’d like to begin this post with a story.
The car washing story
A home seller was outside washing his car. Someone pulled up and motioned for him to come over to discuss his house, which was on the market. The sellers got caught up in the conversation, during which the passerby mentioned the house was priced “way above what he could afford.” Being comfortable thinking the person was not an eligible buyer, they shared their “bottom line” price. The very next day, an offer arrived from the passerby at that bottom-line number.
As a general rule, I don’t like buyers to meet sellers. There is a good reason for this: too much (seemingly innocuous) information may be exchanged and that has a high likelihood of affecting the selling price of the home – either higher or lower depending on the information and who reveals it.
The problem is, there is an urge to bond with the other side. Houses can be very personal and when buyers and sellers start conversing about the house, personal information is going to be given out.
Sellers may reveal how much they owe on the property, that a divorce is imminent, or that they have to move right away. They may state how much they hate their neighbors or blurt out something negative about the neighborhood.
Buyers may blab that they have fallen in love with the house and just have to have it. They may tell the sellers just how much mortgage they are approved for, that they have good friends down the street…
Even when talking with the other side’s agent, sellers should be cautious. Simple questions like: “where you guys headed” or “have you found anything yet” can quickly lead into dangerous territory. When a home seller rambles on with a prospective buyer or agent, chances are good he or she will reveal something about themselves or their situation that can give the other side a distinct negotiating advantage. Any little tidbit can be used against you. Mention that you’re about to close on your new home, that you want to be in a new place by the time your daughter has her baby, or that your company is helping you with your move and any chance of receiving a full price offer will be greatly reduced.
I coach my clients to be out of the house when prospective buyers or realtors are coming through. Buyers who come through when the seller is home, or worse walking with them through the home, aren’t as thorough as they should be. They go through much more quickly than they would have otherwise. It’s not good for anyone.
A word about social media
Do not post on your Facebook page how much you love a house and what you are really willing to pay for. If you’ve heard about the six degrees of separation, you know what the chances are good that the sellers will find out and you can end up paying a higher price. Kitchener Waterloo is the smallest big town I know. Everybody knows everybody!
It’s hard to keep a secret, I know. But you can tell me. I won’t tell anyone.