Are you a browser or a buyer?

When I meet a potential buyer for the first time, I need to assess where they are emotionally and personally with regard to a purchase. Not everyone who wants to buy a home is actually ready to do so.

Here’s how I can tell if you are a browser instead of a buyer:

1. You are not in a position to change location. Jobs and schools are big reasons people stay put. We also probably shouldn’t be sitting down to talk if you’ve just signed a year lease on an apartment or are celebrating the birth of a newborn.

2. You lack financial security. This includes people who are worried about getting laid off, people who just started new jobs, or people who just left their current job to start a new business.

3. You don’t have your down payment together. I don’t care how motivated you are or what get-rich-quick-in-real-estate seminar you just attended. If you don’t have the cash to bring to close, you aren’t ready to buy yet.

4. You think you have friends or family who want to invest with you — but have yet to sit down and work out the nuts and bolts of how such a partnership would work. This is probably a corollary to number three, but I single it out because it’s one that really drives me nuts, especially when the friend, cousin or auntie is a perpetual no-show in the process.

5. You aren’t ready to commit to living in one place for the next five years. Young couples who are trying to figure out when to have kids often fall in this category because of the quality of our public schools. So are people who think they may get relocated within the next few years.

6. They don’t have a time frame for a purchase in mind. When I meet with clients, I like to ask if you have a future holiday by which you picture yourself in your new home. If it’s January, I’ll ask if you’re ready to be in by Easter. If we’re meeting at the beginning of the year, I ask if they’re ready to be in by Easter. If it’s Easter, I ask if they can picture themselves there by the Fourth of July. If they’re cagey or cautious when answering this question, it’s a red flag.

7. You have unrealistic expectations. If your laundry list of must-haves is as long as my arm and you are unwilling to concede on any of it, you may be at an impasse with the current market.

8. You only want to look at foreclosures or short sales. Never mind that foreclosures and are almost always overbid in this market. What you’re really saying to me is that you’re a seeking a too-good-to-be-true deal. More power to you, but in my experience your needle-in-a-haystack mentality isn’t in line with market realities.

Dreaming of San Francisco? Cece Blase offers local advice to San Francisco buyers, sellers and owners– and feeds the dreams of those who wish they could live in Tony Bennett’s ‘City by the Bay.’ Call 415-577-0809 or email