Sell me what I want, not what you want

We have some friends who have recently moved to town and were looking for a house to rent. We hooked up with a real estate agent one day. I told him exactly what we were looking for. It needed to be 4 bedroom and 2 1/2 bath. Bigger was fine, but it could not exceed a certain amount of money per month.

He had just the thing. Or, at least that is what he said. He described it on the phone. Well, except it was twice as much per month as what we said was possible. He just had to show it to us because my friends just might be willing to spend the extra money once they saw how beautiful it was. I don’t know about most people, but I do know me and my friend. If there is a budgeted amount for a project, especially something like rent that goes on forever, I am not willing to pay more than the amount set aside. But at his insistence, we went to see it.

It was awful. The house was not at all impressive. It did fit the bedroom/bathroom criteria, but was otherwise a mess on top of costing way too much. He had another house just down the street. Same issue. We live in a city that is 550 years old. I think these were probably not the first 2 houses built in town, but pretty close to it. I know many people move to town and want an old “colonial style” home. But that is not what we were looking for and I specifically told that to the agent.

Another house later, and we were ready to ditch the agent. It was a disaster. Our friends have moved to town to live and work, not to retire and fix up a house that is falling apart. Not to forget, all of these were out of their price range.

After going over again what we were and were not looking for, he thought of one more house. He described it and it sounded great. So we drove to the fourth house. It was exactly what they were looking for in the right price range. It was in a neighborhood that they did not like and therefore they ended up not renting that house, but it was what they had been requesting all along.

Why is it that some sales people feel compelled to sell you the product that they want you to have and not the product that you have requested? The first three houses were not only not what they wanted, but caused the agent to lose a sale. Even if they had really liked the fourth house, they were no longer interested in dealing with that agent.

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