Buying a home is easier than buying a car.

When you talk to clients about how our real estate market works, remember this.

Buying a home should be harder than buying a car.  It should be, but it’s not.

I mean, yes, it’s harder in the sense that you generally need a lot more money, and you have to sign a LOT more documents.  But FINDING a home is actually easier, and more fun, than finding a car.

Why?  Two things.  First, you get your own agent to help you. When you’re buying a car, everyone works for the seller.  It’s not like you go to the car lot and someone comes up to you to help you identify the right car for you, assist you in getting the right financing, and negotiate your deal.  I mean, you’ll get someone to help you with those things, but they won’t be working for you, they’ll be working for the seller.   But when you buy a home, you can retain a buyer agent who has a fiduciary duty to represent your interests — against the interests of the seller.

(As an aside: Can you imagine how great it would be if someone created a company that provided for “buyer agents” for car purchases?  Someone who would research all those car styles for you, help you figure out which car was right for you, and then negotiate your deal, your financing, and your insurance?  I LOVE that idea.  Please, someone steal it and create that company.)

Second, the broker-supported (i.e. MLS) real estate market has developed into almost a perfectly fluid market — virtually all the inventory is available on that market, virtually all buyers and sellers participate in the market, and the result is that homes pretty much sell for what the market will bear.  Think about it: almost all sellers in the Hudson Valley put their homes in that MLS-created market, almost all brokers will work to show and sell all those homes, and every buyer who participates in the market will find every one of those homes if she looks for them.  What that does is create a fluid market where prices rise to the level of the real demand.

You don’t see inefficiencies that, for example, would create a situation where a home on one street sells for $X, and an identical home a block over sells for $X-plus-a-lot.  You see that in car sales a lot, since most people don’t have very good information on how much similar cars are selling for in the area  — you don’t get “comps” when you’re looking at cars.  And my sense of car dealerships is that even two identical cars might sell for very different prices on the same day from the same dealer to two different buyers.

The other nice part about the open and fluid real estate market is that you don’t have to visit every real estate broker to SEE that inventory.  It’s not like car dealerships, where that dealership can ONLY show you the cars on its lot (or in inventory), but can’t sell you the cars offered by other dealers.  So if you’re buying a car, you have to visit the Ford dealer, and the Chrysler dealer, and the Chevy dealer, and the Honda dealer, and the Nissan dealer, and so on.  And you can’t even just visit ONE Chrysler dealer, since the other Chrysler dealer in the next county over might have other cars you might want.

Now, I’d certainly like it if every buyer came to Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty to see our listings, since we have more listings in the Hudson Valley than any other broker. That would be pretty good for us.  But we all know that the Rand listings are available to all MLS brokers, meaning that you can see our listings whether you’re working with one of our agents, or another company’s agent.

So because of the way the real estate market works, you have a nice open market with someone who will guide you as your fiduciary through the whole process.  But when you’re buying a car, you have a closed-off market that requires a lot of extra work for you to hunt down what you want, and throughout the process you’ll always be working with people who work for the seller.

Buying a home is a great experience, or should be when you’ve got a great agent.  Tell your clients that.