Touring with a Poet

I’ve always thought it would be a cool experience to blog about a home purchase or sale with a client who was also blogging about it from their perspective. Being on the “Realtor” side of a purchase is a vastly different experience from being on the “Buyer” side. I’m excited to have found a blogger that’s up for the adventure.

Dogpoet, a blogger you should read if you aren’t already, is an all-around great guy that I’ve stalked, er read, for years. It just happens he’s half of a couple in the market for a house, and when I threw out my crazy idea about blogging he didn’t stop returning my emails or phone calls, and in fact seemed vaguely interested.

He’s a bit ahead of me, and if you want you can read about our first tour together from his perspective.

Dogpoet’s husband is a phenomenal barber (the best in the Castro, if not all of SF, I’d venture), and during a haircut we ended up talking about real estate (if I had a dollar for every place I’ve talked real estate I’d be retired). So most of my conversations about homes and neighborhoods had been with The Husband, and I really hadn’t had much of a chance to talk with the Dogpoet about what he was hoping for in a home, and what his biggest concerns might be about buying a home. I’d reached out to him to offer a chance to sit-down or go look at homes, and the timing worked out so that I could tour homes with the Dogpoet while the Barber was out-of-town.

I always get a bit neurotic (okay, maybe a lot) before meeting with a client for the first time in a professional context. Even if I know them really well, I still up my personal expectations of myself when venturing into the realm of professional services and I always assume my clients do also. Preparation for a tour usually starts with a trip to the car wash, which inevitably leaves my car 95% really clean and 5% not-quite-awesome, which is the 5% I inevitably notice. I suppose it’s a good thing when looking at homes…

Our first home tour had us looking at single-family homes on a Sunday afternoon in the Sunset, Parkside, and Ingleside Heights. Our tour was a combo of open houses and vacant homes on lockbox.

Here are a few impressions:

- One of the homes we visited already had two offers in on it, and it was hosted by an agent who wasn’t the listing agent. This is pretty common, the listing agent has other things to do and the agent holding it open is actively trying to solicit buyers to work with them. This particular house had an unfortunate layout and an aggressive agent, so I was ready to flee through the door sooner than the Dogpoet was. Or, we were equally ready to flee but kept our game faces on.

- One of the homes we visited was on lockbox, but the owner was home. Which is incredibly, extremely rare in San Francisco. He was gracious and polite, but it is still odd walking through someone else’s home, making internal judgments, while the owners (and their children!) are lounging about playing online games. I understand, logically, that sellers have their quirks, but at the end of the day I think sellers should leave their home during showings. Period, end of story. Call me old-school.

- One of the homes we visited was just plain unfortunate (the Ms. Martha home if you read his blog). Fortunately for us, it was the first home we saw and things improved on the next homes we visited (which isn’t always the case – I arrange tours in a geographic order that makes sense, and don’t put houses that I think clients will like or dislike at the front or end of the tour).

- One of the homes was as enormous as it was cosmetically challenged, but that didn’t stop several hundred people from descending on it like locusts while we took a look as well.

- No matter how well I prepare, I always end up answering at least five questions with “I don’t know – that’s a good question, let me find out.” While beginner’s mind is a great state to be in and an honest I-don’t-know is better than a fictional but authoritative answer, I sometimes wonder if clients find themselves thinking “WHY THE HELL DON”T YOU KNOW THAT?!”

In between homes we chatted a bit. It was important to me that the DogPoet felt as involved in this process as The Husband had been up to this point, particularly since this is his first home purchase. So we chatted a fair amount about the buying process in SF, the market, neighborhoods, and his concerns and worries about buying a home. I tried to throw in a little witty banter every now and again to keep things from being too intimidating. One man’s witty banter is another man’s fingers-on-chalkb0ard-annoyance though, so I won’t grade myself on whether I was witty or insufferable.

After a few hours of touring we had some definite “no way would I live in that” homes, a few maybes, and some that were of definite interest.

Which is always a good start.

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