I was talking to a friend about her recent home buying experience. Things were going well in the beginning, but as closing approached more and more issues came up. They decided they didn’t like certain aspects of the house as much as they thought they would. Some of the renovations that they wanted to do were going to cost more than expected. Some issues arose at closing that soured the deal (I don’t know the specifics). They even started having second thoughts about the neighborhood. Yet despite all of this, they bought the house anyway. They are now unhappy and stuck.
When I asked why on earth they went through with the purchase, she hemmed and hawed and said, “Well, we felt like we’d come that far and we had to go through with it. I mean, the real estate agents and bankers had spent so much time on us we felt like we had to buy the house. And the buyers were counting on us so they could move to their new house. We mentioned our concerns to our agent and she applied some light pressure, kind of told us we wouldn’t do better anywhere else so we should really get this house. In the end, we just couldn’t walk away.”
The ethics of a realtor who pressures his or her clients into buying a house they don’t love aside, my friend ended up buying a house because she was embarrassed to walk away from the deal at the last minute. That’s all on her, but it’s not the first time I’ve seen something like this happen. I’ve seen it happen on a much smaller scale, such as the woman who buys the dress she doesn’t love to please the salesperson who spent an hour waiting on her. It can happen with everything from clothes, to cars, to houses. Humans are wired to please others and avoid embarrassment (and some of us are more heavily wired that way than others). We don’t want to cause a scene, renege on a deal, cause someone else an inconvenience, or damage our reputations.
Sometimes, though, that’s what you have to do if you want to save yourself some money and avoid financial headaches. The thing to remember is that it’s never to late to walk away from a deal until you’ve signed all the papers and handed over your money (and even then, some states have a buyer’s remorse clause that allows you to get out of certain contracts within a set timeframe). Even if the other people in the deal “hate” you for walking away, you have to remember that it’s your money and your happiness at stake. Your embarrassment will fade, but you’ll be stuck with that house or car for a long time.
Most salespeople, bankers, and lawyers couldn’t care less if you are genuinely happy. Your happiness is not their problem. It’s business. They want their commissions or fees. You have to think the same way. You can’t care whether your realtor has spent weeks putting together a deal, or whether the car guy has spent hours negotiating a price with his manager. Their happiness or commission is not your problem. You have to be happy with the deal or the product. If you aren’t, you need to walk away and find something that does make you happy.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to abuse the people who are helping you. Far from it. Being polite will always get you further than being rude and you may cross paths with these people later and you don’t want them to remember you as, “That rude SOB.” But if it comes down to signing your name to that contract and you aren’t happy with something or clear on the terms, you need to have the courage to say, “No thank you” and walk away. Either that or be willing to go back to the beginning and renegotiate the terms of the deal that are troubling you. You can’t give in to the pressure to just finish the deal, or the desire to spare yourself some harsh comments or rotten looks.
A deal isn’t done until everything is signed and paid for. At any point before that time, you have the legal right to walk away. There’s nothing in the law that says if a realtor has spent two weeks working with you that you have to go through with it, or if you’ve spent an hour in the car dealership that you must now buy a car. Sure, it may be uncomfortable and awkward to walk, but think how much more uncomfortable my friend is now sitting in a house she doesn’t like, in a neighborhood she doesn’t like, and all the poorer financially for the experience. Walk away and don’t worry about what other people think.
(Photo courtesy of quinn.anya)