The Rorschach Test for Real Buyers

A few months back, I published excerpts from my new random house book, Self-Test for Pseudo-Sellers, right here in the Saturday Sentinel. I’m sure it is destined to rise to the top of the shopping cart on Amazon.com and a number of you have since called to ask about my other self-help real estate tool called The Rorschach Test for Real Buyers.

The Real Rorschach is something I designed for married couples, domestic partners, spousal equivalents and of course, all those Agents out there, who want to avoid developing irreconcilable differences around the irreconcilable differences that frequently arise in the home buying process.

It’s fascinating how often real estate agents become defacto emotional go-betweens
in their relationships with dysfunctional folks ostensibly house hunting together. If the pattern continues long enough, Agents can become full-fledged co-dependents in a rather strange and messy ménage-a-morass.

Suffice to say, no two people can feel totally simpatico with every aspect of every home they consider buying – even if they have an undying commitment to spend the rest of their lives together. Just like a good marriage, buying a good house means compromising on smaller differences and recognizing and enhancing those things that have the ability to nurture both people..

I call the inevitable cul de sacs that people sometimes find themselves circling in, in their house search, edge points. Edge points are aspects of a property that one person may feel completely positive about but the other may feel just as strongly negative about – or perhaps just not feel anything at all about – except blah. Edge points require lots of discussion and mindful effort in order to polish and smooth out the rough spots.

If too much edginess surfaces in a prospective property and there isn’t enough common ground to build a foundation on, then it is simply time to move on to another house. When one Buyer is from Mars and the other is from Venus, the Agent for both can be in a world of hurt, caught in a gravitational pull between them that opens up into gaping chasm on the way to a bottomless abyss.

What can an Agent do to avoid potential pitfalls that can grow that wide and that deep? Here are a few thoughts… Insist that both people look at properties together from the very beginning. Don’t let one be the go-fer and the other sit back armed with overriding veto power, out of touch with the whole context of the marketplace. Remote viewing doesn’t work very well in real estate. Both buyers should be fully invested and involved at every stage. Push your clients to keep talking about their hopes, dreams, desires – i.e. – their lives – because that is what is going to take place within the four walls they will eventually purchase. Encourage them to stretch the envelope at each edge point they encounter. Explore the shadows. The basements. The closets. The scary places in the back of the garage.

And if all else fails, be prepared to use The Rorschach Test for Real Buyers. Designed to simulate an attractive glossy real estate magazine, each page features a different Rorschach inkblot “house” along with random generated nonsensical copy “describing” all its features. Separate the two clients and show them each Rorschach “ad” independently. Record their impressions of what they see. Watch what flows to the surface in their waking dream and pay heed to the clear voice of the unconscious buyer that lies within each.

I stumbled onto the Real Rorschach Test years ago when I was working with a young couple. I had inadvertently spilled a cup of coffee on a featured home ad in the paper, making it almost unrecognizable. The idea light in my head went on and I asked the husband what he saw in the almost unrecognizable blob of stained newsprint. He visualized “a large home with small payments, low maintenance yard, a three car garage and a private library with a big screen plasma TV and surround sound.” His other “half” (the right brain?) saw a moderately sized home with a lush green lawn, a huge family room where lots of quality time could be spent and a beautiful master suite with Jacuzzi tub and his and her walk-in closets.

Right away I sensed something amiss in the impromptu test results and decided that some radical therapy was in order before we ever got into the car to look at anything. I think it helped preserve our working relationship as well as their marriage. Sometimes the best realty reality check is to just sit back for a moment and ask yourself: What’s wrong with this picture? Or what’s right?

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