Sometimes real estate can be a pretty dramatic biz to be in. I’ve always said that you know you are in an exciting field when they make TV shows about what you do. No TV show I have ever seen was about the life and times of an accountant or librarian…….well, unless it was on BBC.
Most of the drama I have ever seen or heard about seems to revolve around either misconceptions or things that weren’t spelled out clearly…….So here are a few things to think about on your next real estate deal:
1) Negotiating a price is the first stressful thing. I have NEVER seen a seller feel like they couldn’t have gotten more out of their house, and have rarely seen a buyer feel like they got a bargain. I don’t know how many deals I have had nor how many offers I have written, but my experience is that houses usually sell for what they are really worth. I guess my advice here is to expect to pay a price that is within the range of the comps. This is one of the toughest parts of real estate. I’ve seen people get down to haggling over a few hundred dollars. By the time you get to that point, you are really just trying to win. Most of the sellers I have seen that have tried to win this battle end up losing……and it is kind of a hollow victory when you didn’t sell your house……or if you are a buyer who has to keep looking.
2) Write everything that you expect to come with the house in the contract. I just had a listing where the buyer’s agent didn’t write anything in the space for that type of thing. That meant that we really didn’t have to leave all the appliances, blinds, window treatments, or anything else that wasn’t really a part of the house. I also just had a deal where a seller didn’t leave a framed mirror over the vanity in one of the bathrooms, and the buyer thought it should have stayed.
3) That closing date on our contracts is really just a target date that we are all working towards. It is not a firm committment and there is no penalty for going past it unless that is added. The lingo used to make it a firm time is “Time is of the essence.” Only when you see that is the date binding. One of the reasons for this is that we can’t really hold the buyer’s feet to the fire on the timeline because they are not fully in control of the process if they are getting a loan. As a buyer, you usually don’t want to write “Time is of the essence” because if your loan isn’t done on time you could face a penalty. Sellers don’t have to do anything except move out……and I’ve only seen that happen once (Talk about drama. That was a mess!)
4) Another high tension spot is dealing with the inspection. A seller almost always feels that they have lived in the house for so many years just fine and shouldn’t have to do any repairs. A buyer always feels like they shouldn’t have to buy a house with a problem. I’ve only had a few times where the seller just totally refused to do any repairs. Most of the time they will do some, but not all of the repairs. I think when you expect the seller to not do much, you open yourself up for a pleasant surprise. When you expect them to do it all, you will certainly feel disappointed. You know it is a true compromise when ain’t nobody really happy.
5) Next is the Final Walk-Thru. I’ve not seen to many problems happen here, but this is where it becomes obvious that there was some confusion about what was to remain in the house if you didn’t follow my advice above in item #2. In an ideal world the seller leaves the house fairly clean and hasn’t filled all the garbage cans nor left stacks of garbage on the curb…..but that happens sometimes unless the closing is on garbage day.
All of these suggestions will help……but there is still no guarantee you’ll have a stress free transaction. Things go wrong in real estate. Just take a look at all the people involved in a typical deal: Buyer, buyer’s agent, seller, seller’s agent, home inspector, appraiser, loan officer, underwriter, closing attorney. There are so many opportunities for an “i” to not get dotted or a “t” to not get crossed that I am surprised when everything goes well. While you can’t control everything nor everybody involved in a deal, you can control how you feel. It is too easy to focus on the things you don’t like. Remember that you are about to either get rid of your old house or are getting the house you picked out of all the ones available to you……..and focus on that!