August 16, 2012 | by Valerie Blake
What buyers want

(iStock photo)

Whatever you think of Mel Gibson, you have to admit that the sight of him in a bra and pantyhose while sporting lipstick and mascara in the movie “What Women Want” is enough to make Noxeema’s face cream, Chi Chi’s chi-chis heave and Ms. Vida Boehme roll over in her grave.

The movie, of course, features the former Mad Max as Nick Marshall, a womanizer who, after being electrocuted by a hair dryer, can hear the private thoughts of women, ultimately learning to use that knowledge to become a kinder, gentler business colleague and romantic partner.

Now, I can’t say that I would enjoy hearing what everyone is thinking about me without the censorship that we call tact, but it would sure help in my business if I could hear what people were really thinking about the homes I show them.

For example, two buyers and their agent walk into a kitchen (no, this is not a bad Siri joke).

Agent: So, how do you like this kitchen?

Buyer One: It’s nice.

Buyer Two: Yeah, lots of counter space.

So which one is actually thinking, “If I see one more galley kitchen with maple cabinets and Absolute Black granite I’ll go mad?” And why is he too polite to say it? Moreover, how is their agent supposed to know to eliminate that style from the properties she shows them in the future, based solely on that conversation?  Wouldn’t it be easier if your agent could just hear your thoughts?

Candor is very important during the home buying process.  I tell my clients that just because I show them something doesn’t mean they have to like it, but when I ask their opinion about a home’s location, layout or special feature, I want to hear the word “because” in their response.  The words that come after “because” tell the real story and help your agent focus on what’s most important to you.

No matter how long a couple has been together, they will likely have different opinions about the location, style, size, price and features of a home, so if you’re a party of two thinking about purchasing a home together, try this little exercise at home before looking at properties.

Complete the outline below, independently and without peeking at your partner’s paper.

My new home must have _______.  Limit this section to 5 items.

It would be great if my home also had _______.  Keep this section at 5-10 items.

My dream home also features ________.  Go wild with desire here.

I don’t even want to look at a home that _______.  Insert only one item here and yes, I know it’s tricky.

Now open a bottle of your favorite beverage and share your lists.  You’re probably in for a surprise.

Discuss with your partner the reasons why you selected the items you did, then write down all the things you agree on and give that list to your agent. Be prepared to explain the “because” behind your items, even if difficult to articulate, so you and your agent can develop your housing profile together.

Having a housing profile is equally important for single buyers. It can help your agent find suitable alternatives among our limited housing stock or recommend potential compromises that may not be as drastic as you think.

For example, my profile looks like this:

My ideal home has 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, tall ceilings, hardwoods and a fireplace with the flame still burning. Small grassy areas and extra storage are welcome; a dog-friendly environment is a must.

It has a solid foundation, windows to the soul and a panoramic view of life.  Its basement can be unfinished but its elevator must go all the way to the top.

It need not be expensive but must not be cheap. It should be well insulated and free of hazardous substances and its exterior should feature a liberal dose of sunshine.

No wait! Did I confuse my housing profile with my Match.com profile?  Sometimes that really is how it goes when you fall in love with your new home.

Valerie M. Blake can be reached at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Prudential PenFed Realty is an independently owned and operated broker member of BRER Affiliates, Inc. Prudential, the Prudential logo and the Rock symbol are registered service marks of Prudential Financial, Inc. and its related entities, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide.  Used under license with no other affiliation with Prudential. Equal Housing Opportunity.

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