Buyers For The Birds

Shouldn’t Real Estate Buyers Actually Buy?

Never will your home seem to be instantly sold more so than the day you mention to your friends, neighbors or colleagues that you’re putting it on the market. Suddenly, it seems people come out of the woodwork that really, really secretly loved your home and have always wanted to buy it. Maybe it’s just the idea that they are scooping everyone or getting “first crack” at a new offering that peaks their interest.

Ask any real estate agent and they’ll tell you dozens of circumstances when they list a home and the seller says, “You know so-in-so has expressed interest. Would you mind adding them as an exclusion to the listing contract?” The reality of the situation is that the overwhelming majority of the time the property simply doesn’t sell to that buyer.

Over the years I’ve had several circumstances where phantom buyers of real estate were excluded from a listing contract for a period of time. One that sticks out in my mind was a couple touring a condo I was listing at the same time that the sellers were finalizing the listing paperwork.

We’re Not Sure We Want to Buy

The buyers wanted two weeks to make up their mind whether they really wanted to buy the condominium or not. They, of course, would prefer that the condo not be listed while they make up their mind. Losing two weeks of the busy winter tourist season in Southwest Florida is a high cost for a “maybe buyer”. Add to that the holding costs associated with waiting on a maybe and the seller’s bottom line starts shrinking.

The sellers decided to list in spite of the fact that they had a potential buyer wandering around. I offered the sellers a blank contract and let them know that if the buyers were really buyers they were welcome to write the sales contract and save the expenses of real estate commission.

The sellers had originally looked at those phantom buyers as potential. The reality is they were just a potential fly in the ointment. If they wanted to buy the condo, they would have moved forward and bought it or at least offered an agreement with time periods to satisfy any objections that were holding them back.

As the buyers walked out the door that day they also asked to be contacted, right away, if anyone else made an offer in the next two weeks. Basically, when there was another qualified, motivated buyer on board they wanted us to call them so they could then muddy the waters with an offer, that they weren’t committed to making and following through with only days earlier.

Throwing Away The Best Buyer

I later asked the sellers, “If someone walks through the door tomorrow and offers you full price, cash, closing in days do you think it would be in your best interest to call them?”

As expected, the phantom buyers for this condo never pulled the trigger.

The real goal when selling your home is actually selling your home. Picking up the tab while a buyer with commitment issues makes up their mind costs time and money.

Unless that phantom buyer puts an offer on paper, they’re usually just window shopping on your dime and wasting your time.


Real Life in Bonita Springs is a project by Chris Griffith dedicated to writing useful blog posts for consumers about the Bonita Springs, Florida area.  Find out what it is really like to live in Bonita Springs, Florida by reading about our fair city. You’ll get the latest in local real estate information, Bonita Springs real estate market reports and a little bit of humor.  If you have topic ideas, feel free to request a story about the idea, after all, this site is just for you.

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