I Thought I Was Watching ‘Attack of the Clones’—But It Was Just an Open House

published Mar 7, 2019
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(Image credit: Trinette Reed/Stocksy)

In Los Angeles, people build entire careers out of resembling someone else. There are the impersonators, the stand-ins, and the stunt people who make a living looking like celebrities. It seems pretty cool to look like someone else—until you’re searching to buy your first house in a super competitive real estate market.

Suddenly, you’re at an open house, surrounded by a swarm of doppelgängers. How can there possibly be so many millennial couples sporting the same plaid shirts, hoodies, and yoga pants as my husband and I are? And, of course, we’re all looking for the same things: the same adorable vintage details, the same tempting fixer upper, the same hidden gem located on the edge of the amazing school district, etc.

When I see the same faces at all these open houses, part of me wants to laugh, but another part is filled with dread–how can I ever get the edge over these exact clones? How can I beat myself?

The easy answer is to have a lot of cash. Nothing separates you from the pack like a pile of money (especially if you carry it with you in sacks marked with dollar signs). But since that’s not an option for me, I asked Jami Nash, a real estate agent with Redfin, for some pointers and tips:

“Be sure to introduce yourself to the listing agent, shake their hand, make eye contact, try to make them laugh,” says Nash, “If you get into a situation where there are multiple offers on the house, the listing agent will remember the people who were nice to them and left an impression, which will work in your favor.”

Listing agents spend all day just standing in the property and often welcome the chance to engage with visitors, she says. Agents get into the business because they like people, so don’t be afraid to make a little small talk.

Your negative behavior can also affect a sale. If you bad-mouth the listing in front of the agent and then make an offer, they’re going to be less inclined to sell to you. Jami also stresses to let your agent do the negotiating:

“Your agent is there to have the hard conversations, so let them!” she says. You aren’t getting a better deal by trying to negotiate directly with the listing agent. You’re showing them that you’re going to be a difficult buyer, someone they wouldn’t want to go through escrow with.”

There are also ways to stand out when it comes to making an offer. Writing a personal letter to the sellers about why you love their home and who you are can help separate you from the crowd. Also, before you start looking, be sure to get pre-approved for a mortgage so you don’t have any surprises later in the process.

Even though I’m going to take all of Nash’s tips, I’m still considering getting a parrot and teaching it to say “Nice Hardwood Floors!” Because people always remember a bird lady. But do they sell to a bird lady? That remains to be seen.