Just tell me what you want

Castles in the Sand

Remember the movie, “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson about 20 years ago? He suddenly acquired the ability to read women’s minds, not men’s minds, just women. There are real estate professionals out there that would love to have that ability when they first meet a potential buyer, only they want to be able to read all buyer’s minds.

If you have two people, you have two different opinions and real estate buying is no exception. Buying a house with another person is right up there with other major life events. One person wants a fully renovated home in move-in condition, the other wants a fixer-upper so they can put their own stamp on it. One person wants charm, the other wants function, one person wants waterfront, the other can’t stand sand. One person wants a garage, the other thinks it’s a junk collector, you get the picture.

The key to house hunting is not to dig in too much. You may think you want a pool or a basement or skylights and find out later that the maintenance involved for certain items is more expensive than anticipated.

So, who in a relationship gets the final word on whether you buy a three-bedroom single-family home or a two-bedroom condo? When I first got into real estate, we would say that whichever person in a couple sat in the front seat of the car with the agent was the decision-maker. An interesting little observation but probably doesn’t tell the whole story.

As it turns out, a survey of 33,000 home shoppers shows some of the differences between men and women in their wants and needs in a property. For instance, women tend to determine floor plan and layout, young mothers want to be able to keep an eye on the children from the kitchen and require upstairs bedrooms close to children. Men, on the other hand, are focused on location, a long-held opinion that this may be the most important thing when house-hunting.

In addition, women tend to want pantry space and closet space. They want multiple bathrooms with both a tub and a shower and, of course, large laundry rooms where they can set up ironing boards and drying racks. They also would love an office for household accounts and a master bedroom formatted as a get-away spot. Men want outdoor space, room for fitness equipment, three-car garages, a media room, green technology and high-end kitchen appliances. The bottom line is the survey showed that 92 percent of all home purchases are led by a woman.

Finally, couples need to have serious and substantial conversations before they get into the agent’s car, whichever seat they sit in. And before they call an agent, they need at least an outline of what they want in a property and, of course, an area. That’s not to say they can’t be flexible with that list, but it’s an important starting point.

Probably buyers would love to be able to read their agent’s minds as well. Chances are what they would see is, “Please just tell me what you want!” written on their forehead. Knowing what you want beforehand will help not only you but your agent as well from losing your collective minds.