Buyer Secret: How to Predict the House You'll Fall in Love With
Posted on November 12, 2017
Kim and Lane Fisher were Harvard-educated professionals, the first in their immigrant families to graduate from college. In their mid-thirties, they juggled two jobs and two kids under the age of 6.
They loved their trendy NW Portland neighborhood where shops, a yoga studio and other amenities were within walking distance. But as their kids got older, they wanted more space, inside and out. That’s when they contacted us.
The Fisher’s “wish list” was exacting: a home with cutting edge design, a thriving retail district nearby, a good school within walking distance, and a safe outdoor space for the kids.
Over lunch one day, after another unsuccessful morning of house hunting, I asked them to tell me about the homes they had lived in.
Kim described her childhood neighborhood, replete with big lawns, kids running in and out of neighbors’ doors, and a sense of community. Lane talked about the feeling of safety he had, prompted by the unsettling childhoods his parents had experienced as immigrants.
By the end of our conversation, I knew exactly what the Fisher’s priority was in a home: quality for their kids. We paid the tab, I made a phone call, and, as we left the restaurant, I asked them to trust me on the next showing.
We drove south, out of the trendy NW side of Portland, and into the north end of Lake Oswego, into a well-established neighborhood with good schools, big lawns and mature trees.
As soon as we drove into the neighborhood, Kim gasped.
“Oh my god,” said Kim. “This is exactly like the neighborhood I grew up in! I love it.” Lane agreed and we signed a contract within a week.
What buyers say they want in a home is often 180 degrees different from what they are attracted to. And in the 25+ years that we’ve been doing this, we’ve learned that familiarity is often what buyers are attracted to.
We’ve learned, too, that identifying past “house patterns” often reveals those emotional attractors.
That said, if you know your pattern—and whether you’re willing to consciously change it—that awareness will help you identify the home you’ll fall in love with.
Do You Fall Into One of These 5 Home-Buying Patterns?
Pattern No. 1: The Big-Small-Big
Boomers often fall into this category. They‘ve raised their kids and are ready to downsize, or so they think. They sell the family home, move into a condo, and then claim it “doesn’t feel right,” and move back into a bigger home.
Pattern No. 2: The Big-Small
This pattern is a conscious choice to downsize and create a home that is manageable for the next stage of life, after the kids have left home. These buyers still have a guest room for kids and visitors, a home office and a neighborhood that reminds them of past ones. And whenever it doesn’t “feel right,” they remind themselves why they bought it and stay put.
Pattern No. 3: The Triple Decker
Families are supposed to live together according to this buyer. After all, it’s what their parents and grandparents did, and what they got used to as kids. (Ethnicity often plays a role in the familiar feel of this pattern, considered normal in their culture of origin.) The place this buyer will fall in love with invariably accommodates multiple generations under one roof (and multiple cars in the driveway).
Pattern No. 4: The Minimalist
Whether due to values or circumstances, the minimalist is used to being able to vacuum the entire home without unplugging the vacuum cleaner. Even a second floor is considered too much space, and requires too much energy. A condo, not a townhome, is ideal for this buyer.
Pattern No. 5: The Gravy Maker
Whether this is a second home, an investment property, or a “love nest” for late life long-distance lovers, this property is similar to the properties desired by The Minimalist. However, space (or the lack of it) is not the priority. It is the ability to build equity quickly and to have no outside maintenance.
More than once, we’ve seen these patterns repeat themselves, often within both the buyer and seller. This was the case with the Fishers. The sellers had bought the home years ago because they, too, had wanted quality for their kids. Interestingly enough, like the Fishers, they were also ethnically diverse.
To protect our clients’ privacy, anecdotes shared are based on true stories; however, names and specifics have been changed and/or combined into composites.