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Engineering marvels: buying a home by spreadsheet

“People buy on emotion and justify with logic,” so the saying goes.  Only, I have found this pearl of wisdom to be a little less than universal. Would that it be otherwise.

Here’s a confession: I don’t really enjoy getting down into the weeds.  Analyzing cost per square foot, running spreadsheets of the “must haves” and “would like to haves”.  You know the drill. The client has spreadsheets out the yin yang with all the factors in the column and all the houses in the row.  Checking off  each one, in turn, and providing a weighted scoring system intelligible only to themselves.

Occasionally, I’ll run into one of these types who also enjoy playing the violin or reading a trashy mystery novel.  They’re analytical and fun.  They’re systematic yet allow a house to “sing to them” and be able to make a decision with a strong emotional component. It’s rare, though.

10 Questions You Should Ask Every Real Estate Agent

Here’s another confession: I have rarely been asked to “interview” to help someone buy a house.  Maybe this isn’t such a good thing.  God knows, I’ve hooked up with many a buyer client that made me want to stick a red hot poker in my eye.  Yet, there is something eerie about sitting down with someone who has “read a lot” about the home buying process and “has some questions”.

The questions never vary:

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  1. Are you a full time agent?
  2. How do you delegate tasks? (this assumes a team)
  3. What are your designations? (whew!  I knew I went to the trouble to be able to trot them out sometime.)
  4. How long have you been a real estate agent?
  5. six more…

To be fair, they’ll answer some of your questions, too.  But my experience has been that they are never too specific and are really more focussed on gathering together the perfect team (real estate agent, lender, etc.) than they are on the house they plan to live in for the next five to ten to thirty years of their lives. I guess it’s first things first, huh?

The Bottom Line

Of course, there are those in the world that just love this type of client. The real estate agent who is more patient than Job himself while the buyer pores over his spreadsheets and than does a cost/benefit analysis, SWOT analysis and comes back with more and more questions about his or her (usually his) top three picks.

It’s just not me.  I look at buying a home not as an investment, per se.  A home is a place to set down some roots and personalize the four walls and a roof into your own sanctuary filled with the things that make your heart sing.  That involves emotion.

Sure.  Safe neighborhoods, good schools, well maintained homes on the block are big plusses.  At some point, you have to say “I really like this place.” and adjust the weighted scoring system accordingly.

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Written By

“Loves sunrise walks on the beach, quaint B & Bs, former Barbie® boyfriend..." Ken is a sole practitioner and Realtor Extraordinaire in the beautiful MD Suburbs of DC. When he's not spouting off on Agent Genius he holds court from his home office in Glenn Dale, MD or the office for RE/MAX Advantage Realty in Fulton, MD...and always on the MD Suburbs of DC Blog

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. elizabeth cooper-golden

    March 5, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    Ken, It seems you have written this specifically tailored to my vast pool of Engineer buyers. They show up with clipboards, armed and ready! The majority of my buyers want to know how much it costs to heat and cool the house per cubic foot, among MANY other things.

    By the time I get an Engineer client under contract, I am over the spreadsheets. I need a stiff drink. I married an Engineer and am thankful that I have such a great client base, but holy cow! I”m a hyper person by nature, so moving at a snails pace while previewing homes and answering endless questions does push me to be a “stronger” person, lol.

    I sure wouldn’t trade them for the world, really. I almost like the emotionless buy…it makes it easier at times to find the right home based on factual data.

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