Those of you who have ever been a seller or a buyer in a real estate transaction likely know firsthand that the process can often be riddled with twists and turns. It is the job of your real estate professional to not only talk you through it all, but to bare the brunt of the stress for you by navigating the trenches on your behalf. Here is some advice for both buyers and sellers on what to expect of these three most common challenges.
It’s no secret that sellers want the most for their property, and buyers would prefer a great deal.
Buyers: It can be fun to fantasize that the waterfront, east facing, fingtertip property in mint condition with a pool exists for pennies on the dollar. But, being unrealistic will only hurt your search and waste your time. Stick strictly to your budget and work with your top 3 must-haves. Then, be fair with an offer given the comps your agent can pull for you. This way you’re being fair to both yourself and the seller.
Sellers: Sit down with your agent and have the lengthy discussion that may be necessary to price your property properly. Compare past sales, run net sheets, look at all the numbers and know where you need to be to not only attract the most buyers, but to get what you need out of it. This will be helpful during negotiations as you’ll already know your bottom line.
Inspections are the buyer’s way of performing due diligence on the property to know exactly what they’re getting in to. Inspections mark any and all deficiencies with the subject property, most importantly the ones concerning the “bones” (foundation, pipes, roof, etc), major systems (HVAC, plumbing, etc) and appliances. The buyer is permitted to make any desired repair requests of the seller after the inspection. If the parties cannot come to an agreement, the buyer is entitled to exercise their right to terminate during the time period prescribed and walk away from the deal without losing their Earnest Money Deposit.
Buyers: More often than not, you’re purchasing a previously owned home. Systems will very well be near their expected useful life, yet still functioning as intended. It can be unrealistic to expect a seller to replace said system. Be sure to ask that they do provide a very comprehensive residential warranty in exchange. New construction is more expensive for a reason.
Sellers: If something simply doesn’t work or is broken, it shows good faith to fix it or offer the buyer a comparable credit. Most inspectors will find the same deficiencies, so it’s in your best interest to work hard to compromise with a current buyer instead of letting a deal go and risk facing the same problem(s) with all future purchasers.
Financing and Appraisals
All the puzzle pieces have to fall in place for a borrower to secure a loan in time to close. Over the years, banks have significantly increased the paperwork requirements and scrutiny on buyers, and recent changes by the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) have changed the protocols between lenders and settlement agents. These cause difficulties for both parties. If a mortgage is involved, the bank must also complete an appraisal of the home. A satisfactory appraisal substantiates the agreed upon purchase price of the home. If the bank determines that the home’s value is less than the agreed upon purchase price, this can create problems. Without financing, there’s no deal and if there’s no deal, Earnest Money Deposit may be at risk.
Buyers: Refer to your agent for a local lender who is responsive and has a good reputation. Your pre-approval should be based on a detailed review of your financial accounts and include a credit check. Services offering “immediate” approvals that don’t require documentation should be avoided. Finally, do your homework while you’re searching for properties so that you’re ready to select your lender within a day or two of going under contract. When you find a property you love, ask your lender to prepare a few estimate sheets so you’re comfortable with the numbers and the type of loan that works best.
Sellers: Have your agent check in weekly with the buyer’s agent on how the loan process is coming along. You can even ask that they call the loan officer themselves and ask questions about what they have reviewed. Either way, you want confirmation that the lender is accessible and proactive with the file. An unresponsive lender makes life tough on the buyer and could cause possible delays, which is stressful on all. It happens, but constant communication will ensure there are no surprises and then even delays don’t seem as scary if everyone is informed on how the loan is moving along.
Having the knowledge that challenges will exist when buying or selling a home can make a world of difference. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can control how you react to them.
Whitney Noble, RE Agent with Coastline Properties Real Estate