Note; This is the latest post in my series the ABCS of buying, selling or investing in real estate. Each week, I take a letter from the alphabet and answer a fictional question from a fictional person in a fictional situation. It is my way of trying to keep my posts interesting. This week, I focus the letter G.
Glen had owned his home for many years when his kids moved out of the house and his wife left him for greener pastures. He got the house in the divorce settlement. Glen is not a nice person to most people. He is grumpy and fed up with the direction of his life. He was not in a good place when he approached me about selling his house. As we talked, I knew from his mannerisms that he was looking for a fight from me. He wanted me to tell him something he was against. I knew I would have to choose my words carefully. He then surprised me by telling me that he realized his mood was not right for selling a home or interacting with buyers. He wanted to know beforehand what he could do to be sure he doesn’t sour a deal with buyers.
Here is what I told Glen.
Buying or selling a house is an emotional chore for all involved. It is so easy to forget that you have to be a decent human being to to the people sitting across the table from you, when all you want is to get it done in a way that benefits you the most financially. I am happy to say that I commended Glen for recognizing that he wore his emotions on his sleeve at this time in his life. People grow emotional attachments to their homes as that is where memories are made. For Glen, most of these memories were good ones, despite the recent events. He was going to be emotional entangled in the sale, no matter what he might think of the business side of things. Frustrations will happen for him and he might react more harshly at things like a repair amendment, which tells him what is wrong with this home he loved. It is almost impossible to separate out the emotions and it always easiest to blame the buyer for his misery. With all this in mind, I told Glen that there are three grand gestures he could make to keep the good will alive between him and any buyer.
1. Respond quickly to offers made – First impressions mean a lot in life. It is no different when selling a home. Buyers will get a great sense of who you are from the very beginning of the process, which is making an offer. We are in a seller’s market that drives offers almost effortlessly to the listing agent. If you stick a property out to sell, one of the many buyers will find that they like it and make an offer on it. I have been receiving blind offers from many agents, which means the buyers have not even seen the house. Some listing agents will get lazy or too busy to respond to all the offers in a timely manner. I recommend you remind the agent to respond to the offer quickly once you have made a decision on it. In a multi-offer situation, once you make a decision on the right one, direct your listing agent to respond to all the buyers who did not get the offer first and then contact buyers still in the running. Buyers would greatly appreciate the gesture shown by you as the seller, which will make for easier negotiations later in the process.
2. Be Cognizant of life events – Life happens to all of us. Sometimes a buyer will have a life event happen in the middle of the process. For example, I recently had a buyer’s agent call me to say that her client’s grandmother had passed away and needed to go back home to take care of the estate. He requested an extension of two weeks to the closing date in order to make this trip home. My sellers were very responsive and agreed to put off the closing to allow this man to grieve. There are other things that can happen to buyers that make life a little more uncomfortable for the sellers. What do you do if a buyer gets sick while financing approval is going on. All lenders will put their borrowers through an underwriting process, which will often come back to the buyers asking for further documentation concerning certain incomes or expenses. Credit histories are also questioned often during this time. If a person comes down with the flu in the middle of this process, the lender might have to wait a week to ten days to get responses. Sellers should be flexible enough to account for these life events. If it drastically changes the nature of the deal, like a buyer makes the mistake of buying a new vehicle so they no longer qualify for a mortgage, then by all means work with the buyer to get out of the contract. I would never advise a seller to put themselves into a worse financial position, but if the deal stays in place and a buyer just needs extra time to deal with a life event, then it would be a grand gesture to work with the buyer.
3. Make it easy for the buyers when moving in – When you get towards the end of your contract as home sellers and you are clear to close on it, it comes at such a relief that sometimes you forget about the fact that you will have someone else moving into your home. There are certain things you can do to help the buyer after they move into the house. First, please make sure to bring keys with you to the closing. I actually bought a house once, where I forgot to check for the keys in the packet I was given. When my family and I went to move in, we could not locate the keys. No response from the seller or the listing agent. We ended up calling a locksmith, who made us prove we owned the place. You also want to leave any product and appliance manuals in the property in case the buyers need to look up how to use the item. Garage door openers are also an important thing to have when moving into a home. Finally, any spare tile, carpet squares or flooring could be left for the buyers as well as paint matching the walls of the house. You might also leave a note for the buyers directing them on any weird or strange things about the property like the fence gate gets stuck when it rains. As home sellers, doing this for your buyers is a grand gesture that they will really appreciate.
As home sellers, it is important to remember that there is a human being on the other side of the table. They want to be treated fairly like you do. Please respond to offers within a reasonable amount of time, 24 hours at the longest. Be flexible of buyer’s life events that might make the process come to a halt for a bit and finally, leave things for the buyer to make their move into the property as easy as possible.