Aesop's Fable 133: The Dog and Its Reflection
Aesop’s Fable 133: The Dog and Its Reflection

This post from February 2012. (Perhaps you, too, are tired of silly lists like “10 Ways to Do Such n’ Such” or “5 Top Reasons for This n’ That” but I’m told numeric list-making is supposed to catch readers’ attentions. Well….did it? Catch yours? Let me know.)

This week I heard of several first-time buyers’ plans to shoot themselves in the proverbial feet, so I thought I’d offer just a smidgen of advice. Here are seven things that make it hard for a so-called buyer to actually buy.

1.) “All my agent cares about is making a sale.” It’s possible that you are indeed working with an agent who only wants to make a sale (see #3 and #4). However, the smart agent knows that ensuring a client’s happiness is the key to continued success. A satisfied buyer brings return and referral business to the agent who cares.

2.) “I’m going to work with a family friend.” There’s a teeny chance the family friend is qualified to represent you, but more likely he/she is either: a.) Part-time b.) Semi-retired c.) Completely unfamiliar with SF inventory, contracts, customs, or pricing d.) Responding to the wishes of the buyer’s family, not the buyer themselves. Saving money is usually the true (unstated) motivation for this choice, but the kickback of commission seldom compensates for poor service and bad advice.

3.) “I don’t need an agent, I’ll just look on my own and have the listing agent help me.” Typically, the seller has already contractually agreed to pay buyer’s agent’s commission. Why wouldn’t you avail yourself of free expertise from a professional whose sole purpose is to please you? (Also see #2 and #4)

4.) “I’ll have the listing agent write my offer.” You think the person who has a fiduciary obligation to get the very best result for the seller is going to serve the buyer best as well? Buyer can buy anything currently listed for sale in his/her price range. The listing agent has a vested interest in selling this one property. Ever read Aesop’s fables? I’m sure there’s one that applies to this scenario.

5.) “I’m in no hurry, I don’t have to buy now.” Then why are you searching the internet, going to open houses, getting preapproved for financing, asking for disclosure packages, contemplating writing an offer, writing an offer, writing a counter offer? We know you don’t have to buy now. We can’t and won’t wrestle you to the ground and force you to pay cash for a place you don’t want at a price you can’t abide. Why, then, are you going on about how you don’t have to buy now? Do you think that inspires us to pull out all the proverbial stops? What’s really on your mind?

6.) “I’m going to work with a high-profile agent, not a rookie.” It’s true that most high-profile agents are hardworking and devoted to their clients. That’s how they achieved their current status and success. However, despite their best intentions, Top Producers may not have a whole lot of time to offer first-time buyers. A hungry, relatively new agent may be a better bet.

7.) “My agent wants me to pay more so they’ll earn a higher commission.” First, revisit #1 above. Second, consider that the individual agent’s take-home commission is going to be somewhere in the vicinity of 2% of the purchase price. On a $1,000 price increase that’s $20 (before taxes) more for the agent. Yet, that same $1,000 could determine whether or not the seller accepts your offer. You do the math.

To conclude, if you’re a real buyer and you’re not a liar (as the crude saying goes), start acting like a real buyer. Find your agent, get your financial ducks in a row, and buy something.

Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For info on SF real estate visit

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