Getting to Closing – Whatever it takes!

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Keeping a deal together now more than ever requires that agents remain professional, emotionally unattached and in constant communication with the other agent.  Follow through is key.  One way to be sure a deal falls apart is to leave it only in the attorneys’ hands.  Attorneys don’t often understand the client well enough to represent them in a transaction.

For example, just yesterday I closed on a deal as a sales agent.  Several times throughout the course of the transaction, the deal was ready to fall apart.

First, the negotiations were almost killed over a few thousand dollars.  The seller came down as far as he wanted to, and the buyers offered as much as they could afford.  Both the listing agent and I were able to talk to our clients and get them to come down/up and then we had a deal.  Keeping calm and rational was key.  It was also important to ensure my client was seeing the big picture.  They were getting a nice home in a great neighborhood….there wasn’t anything better on the market that we found after seeing about 50 homes.

Then, the inspection report totally freaked out the first time home-buyers.  A list of more than 25 necessary repairs was noted by the inspector. At that point, it was in my hand to help the buyer understand what they should expect to be fixed and what they might accept since they were buying a used home.  More importantly, it was also in my hand to set the expectations with the listing agent as to what my clients would be asking for and WHY.  A verbal conversation can convey so much more than a letter drafted by an attorney.  At any rate, my client asked for certain repairs, and the seller agreed.  Whew.

Well, then came the appraisal/FHA inspection to approve the loan…which we figured would be fine since the seller had agreed to repair all the safety related items from the home inspection.  The FHA inspection in fact didn’t care about any of the issues identified (roof leaks, improper electrical wiring) BUT they wanted a fence painted or removed from the perimeter of the property.  The property lot size is 100 X100, which mean 1000 feet of fencing needed to be removed.  The house was built prior to 1978 and the fence paint was chipped and the logic was that it could have been lead based paint.

Objection #1 – Seller doesn’t want to take the fence down or paint it.  He didn’t want to incur a cost or go through the trouble, after all, he had already agreed to the other repairs.

Rebuttal – My clients will remove the fence on their own dime, but since it was a requirement of the loan, the removal had to occur prior to property transfer, and this of course presented its own set of issues. My client may not get the house and thus his labor would be wasted.  Okay, they decided to take the chance.

Objection #2 – If the buyer doesn’t get the loan, the seller now has an unfenced property.  He feels the fence is attractive to buyers, and while the fence was great – I couldn’t help but agree.  Kids and pets typically necessitate a fence.

Rebuttal – My client will waive their mortgage contingency, and the lender has provided a mortgage commitment document.

Objection #3 – Removing the fence will cause a devaluation of the property upon inspection.

Rebuttal – Okay, this objection was close to killing the deal.  Thankfully, the appraisal specifically stated that the fence had “No contributory value” which meant the value of the property was the same with our without the fence.  Nonetheless, my clients agreed to put the fence back up if for some reason they could not take ownership of the property.

Of course, all of this was occurring a week prior to closing and my clients current lease is up at the end of the month, so it was pretty crucial that we got it done in time for a re-inspection.  What did that mean?  That meant my client, who happens to be a female had to physically remove the fence herself, since her male partner was out of town.  She solicited her father for help.  I felt pretty bad about her predicament so my mother and I helped as well.

Bottom line, I knew my clients wanted this home and I knew it was a good value.  It sure would have been easier to let the attorneys hash all of the issues out – but I’m pretty sure that staying on top of all the details and ensuring constant verbal communication got us to the finish line.

Sari Levy

Sari Levy is Managing Broker of Lucid Realty.

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