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You're Not Doing This Alone: Amy Goodman Talks About First-Time Buyers

Reaching out to real estate professionals this week, we turned to uber-agent Monica Pauli of TRI to find out how she works with first-time buyers. It turns out she doesn't, much. Selling so many millions of dollars of property each year takes a team, and for Monica, the task falls to team member Amy Goodman- who told us that the overwhelming majority of first-time buyers are referred by parents or relatives who have worked with Monica previously. We had a chat with Amy earlier this week, and she struck us someone who combines knowledge and discretion with a little mothering. In the best possible sense.

CSF: How do 1st time buyers expectations differ from others?
AG: It's their first home, and they want to get it right, but unlike people who've done it a few times, they don't have first-hand experience. Often they've grown up in some fantastic properties- or in very close proximity.

CSF: Are they nervous?
AG: Not always. But they're not casual about it, either. Sometimes they're pregnant. There's some hand-holding involved and a lot of details to work out- especially after the inspection reports come in. If a house isn't in move-in condition, we can refer architects and contractors to get a better picture of what's possible and how long it will take.
CSF: Do you vet your new clients?
AG: No, since they all come from referrals, that's not really necessary. But most of them want to take advantage of financing, so we get any loan pre-approvals out of the way in the beginning. With mortgage rates so favorable, I've handled only one all-cash sale in the past year.

CSF: How do you manage their expectations?
AG: Most of them have very realistic expectations, but sometimes I have to be frank. If you come with a list of 20 must-haves, most likely you're going to get 14 of them. On the other hand, I've had first-time buyers completely fall for a property that's unlike what they started out looking for.

CSF: How do they react to a suggest to bid over asking?
AG: No one wants to pay too much- no matter what they're spending- and no one wants to feel taken advantage of. But most of what I do is educating clients about the realities of the San Francisco housing market- which despite problems in other parts of the country, or the world- is doing very well. There's a shortage of good stuff on the market, especially Mid-Century Modern, and throughout TRI there's a lot of activity in "pocket listings" right now- houses that never make it to the MLS.

CSF: Do they think it's going to be like an episode of HGTV's House Hunters?
AG: (Amy's never heard of House Hunters. This strikes us a good thing, and we move on)

CSF: Do they shop the internet? Read real estate blogs?
AG: Absolutely. They're very comfortable online.

CSF: Any other thoughts?
AG: We try to keep it simple. Sometimes there are surprises, but it should be a good experience for everyone involved.
· Monica Pauli [Monica's List]