Years ago, when I worked in Corporate Real Estate, I would take Branch Managers on site selections in their geographic area.  In the smaller cities, one of the manager’s main requirements would be how many traffic lights it would take to get to work!  The New York City team (who commuted one to two hours a day to work) would quietly shake their heads in disbelief.   Sometimes these folks had occupied an office for a number of years, had outdated furniture, no lunch room, a neighborhood with limited shopping.  When shown updated office space with sharp-looking systems furniture and great vistas and malls nearby, they frequently could not resist expressing their enthusiasm.  I reminded them that the more excited they acted, the less meat I could negotiate for them.  When I narrowed the sites down from perhaps seven to three, I prepared a spread sheet showing what each landlord would contribute to the deal, i.e. moving costs, build-out, free rent, etc.  I then requested each landlord sharpen his pencil, and I would arrive at the best financial deal for the corporation which would dictate the new location.  

Likewise, when I take prospective purchasers to view homes, I suggest they keep their feelings to themselves until after we leave each property.  The family home is the most important and probably the most expensive purchase many people will make.  Emotions run high when they see something they really like.  If they show too much excitement, negotiations may not be successful.  


I ask the clients to share with me their priorities and decide on the must-haves which can run the gamut—two-car garage, walk-in closets, finished basement, master bath with jacuzzi, in-ground pool, wrap-around porch, deck. 

           Nowadays, with so many TV shows about real estate and how to renovate fixer uppers, buy your dream house, flipping investment properties, the public has an inordinate image of what they want vs. what they can afford.  If stainless steel appliances are on the wish list but the dream house does not have it, the buyer could consider replacing the white appliances at a later date.  If the cabinets are dated, they can be refaced or replaced. 

Paint color - While one buyer may like loud colors, accent colors on walls or faux painting, another buyer may be turned off by it.  Easy fix--repaint!  

Staging  - Real estate professionals do occasionally use professional stagers.  It is easy to go into a staged house and say, “This is definitely mine—perfect!” But when the buyer pictures their furniture, kids, dog, life style into the same house, it can look mighty different.  Do not be suckered into a staged house with nicely arranged furniture, fresh flowers, and the smell of potpourri.   


School districts - It is best for the client to do his own research which is readily available on-line especially in New York City.  They can speak to friends/neighbors who live in the desired areas for their insight. 

Neighborhood – The purchaser should research the neighborhood on different days of the week and different times.  I have shown homes in quiet neighborhoods only to return on the weekend for a second showing and find teens and children hanging out in front yards or driveways.  For someone who likes peace and quiet, this can be a big turn-off.  If a client asks you what kind of a neighborhood the house is in, advise them to do their own due diligence.   

Keep the big picture in mind—You want to buy your perfect dream house!  Try not to stress out and nitpick and the perfect home will find you.  Good luck!

Let me know if you have found your dream house.  What obstacles did you face?  How long did it take you?  Write me at or call me at 646-258-9696.  Thank you for reading.

Posted by Joan Coogan on


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