My Second Homebuying Journey: Recognizing Your Client’s Priorities

I’m lucky to have an insider’s view of the mortgage and homebuying process. But as many industry people know, that vantage point doesn’t guarantee our own homebuying journeys are a breeze.

Finding the home that meets your family’s needs and priorities can still prove challenging.

I wrote awhile back about my first home purchase of a fixer-upper. This time around our priorities shifted and the scenario was much different.

When my husband and I purchased our first home, we decided to tear it down and build a new one. We stayed with my parents for an entire summer, and our nights and weekends were consumed by the new build.

Six years later, our priorities are much different. We have a young child and our schedules revolve around naps and bedtimes.

Priorities change, make sure you're listening.

Priorities change, make sure you’re listening.

Recently, a local real estate agent asked if we would consider selling. Our house wasn’t on the market, but she had a very interested buyer. Selling was something we planned to do eventually, but we hadn’t decided on the timing.

We ultimately agreed to a showing. Several rounds of negotiation followed, and we’re now under contract and scheduled to close in a few weeks. This development was unexpected but welcome. But it also meant we had to jump into the home search head first, without much planning.

We were uninterested in repeating the process of working on a fixer-upper.

At this stage in our lives we want to ensure that our second home reflects our changed lifestyle and new priorities.

First Home Priorities

When we bought, tore down and rebuilt our first home, I was finishing my law degree and my husband worked with my dad, who’s a contractor. We purchased the home in the spring and moved in that fall. Because of my dad’s experience we did most of the building ourselves. We also managed to plan our wedding during this time. We moved in and were married two weeks later. Talk about a busy summer.

As young newlyweds beginning our careers we loved the fact that our home was so close to downtown where I worked and where we frequently ventured for local meals and entertainment. The home sits on a main road, and it’s ideal for a quick walk or drive downtown. At the time, our main housing priority was proximity to work and play balanced with the ability to cut costs by building “sweat equity.”

Second Home Priorities

Moving day is fast approaching.

Moving day is fast approaching.

Over the last six years, we’ve settled in and considered what we would do differently the next time around. As our family has grown and developed we also had a new list of wants and needs for our second home. 

A main floor laundry room is a must for me. In our first home the laundry room is in the basement. I have to walk up and down a flight of stairs with a heaping pile of laundry. My husband wants a garage to store his bicycles (and I agree — I want them out of the house). These features and many others made it on our list to consider when we started looking at new homes.

Most of all, we want our son to grow up in a neighborhood with good schools.

Our priorities changed when we had our son, which is common for many young families. We’d rather be on the edge of town in a quiet neighborhood than in the center of all the city action. We want our son to play with other kids his age and ride his bike down the street.

When it came time to start the house hunt again, we narrowed our search to just a few neighborhoods. Knowing what worked and what didn’t in our old home made it much easier for us to identify what qualities we wanted to see in our new house.

Why Priorities Matter To Agents

So why am I telling you all this? Because it’s really important to always get a clear understanding of your client’s priorities and motivations. You’ll gain more trust and respect by listening to your clients and showing them properties that reflect their specific priorities.

There will always be clients who establish expectations out of their price range or community. You can’t please everyone.

But you still need to listen and discuss your client’s priorities regularly. Reviewing each home after the showing to see how it stacks up. Educate your buyer on how the market may impact their priorities. By doing these things you can become an agent your client will want to refer to others.

Military Buyer Priorities

While I’m not a military buyer, I’ve worked with plenty, and I can tell you that they’ll have many of the same priorities as your other buyers. From school systems to the type of neighborhood, some things don’t change based on military service.

But some things do. It’s important to understand the unique needs of military homebuyers.

Here’s a list of priorities I’ve created based on my conversations with military buyers during my time as a loan officer and with one of my colleagues, Jon Pharr, a Marine and Operation Iraqi Freedom veteran:

  • A quick resale or opportunity to convert to an investment property. Many active duty service members relocate frequently. The ability to list and sell a home in a short period of time or to convert it to a profitable rental may be near the top of their list.
  • Close to military base or VA hospital. Reducing commute time for a disabled veteran or an active duty service member may be key.
  • Move-in ready. Active duty military buyers often have a short time period to move before they jump back into full-time service. A home that doesn’t require many changes can save valuable time.
  • Accessibility for those with a service-connected disability. About a third of VA borrowers have a disability rating of 10 percent or higher. Some may require specially adapted housing to accommodate their injuries.

This list isn’t all inclusive. Continue asking and listening to your buyer throughout the process. Their priorities may change or evolve as the homebuying process moves forward

Jon also pointed out that many military buyers seek homes in areas with low crime rates. Many military buyers have a heightened awareness of their surroundings, and some also struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder. Prepare yourself for these and other demographic questions to help ensure you stay on the right side of Fair Housing Act regulations.

Finding a home they believe to be safe will be a high priority.