Three Potential Disasterous Things That Can Happen When Selling Your Home

Note: This is the next post in my continuing series of ABCs of Buying, Selling and Investing in Real Estate.  Each post I select a letter (D this month) and write a fictional story centered around the letter.  I then give advice.  The story is fiction, but the advice is real(ty)

This post continues the story found in Three Dangers All Sellers Should Consider Before Putting Their Home on the Market

Darren had approached me about putting his home on the market.  He had some misgivings based on his conversations with friends and family about the hassles of selling your home.  He had listened to what I had to say about the dangers about selling your home and then decided to go forth with it anyway.     After three days on the market, he called me with a horror story about a friend who had also put his house on the market just the month before.  Apparently, during an open house, two people had come into their home and proceeded to make their way to the bedroom where they had a little too much fun together.   Darren was shocked that people would think to do this in someone’s else bed.   He was worried again that he had made the wrong decision about selling his house.  He was calling to discuss it with me further.  “What other disasters could happen?” He asked me.   

This is what I told Darren….

I first told him that open houses do pose a challenge for most agents because of the security issues that can arise.  It is always best for agents to take precautions when holding an open house including keeping an eye on every corner of the property.  If they expect too many people to come for one person to handle, the agent should ask for assistance from colleagues.  Yes, people do some strange things at open houses including having relations in a bedroom.  The worst thing that can happen is that the agent is mugged while holding the open house and thieves take off with a lot of valuable materials from the home.   It always best for the agent to be prepared and to always remember to keep people at arms length and never turn his or her back on anyone.    I then told Darren that he shouldn’t have to worry too much about disasters, because, although they do occur, they are the exception versus the rule.  Most sellers sell their homes without anything out of the ordinary happening.   However, it is always a good idea to keep in mind the following items when selling your home.

  1.  Storms, Fire – The first item to consider is a disaster itself like a storm comes through and damages your property.  A fire in the house could also be considered a disaster.   If this happens before you have a contract on a home, it is best to take the property off the market temporarily and work with your insurance company to repair the damages.  The listing agent should make sure you fill out the Seller’s Disclosure Notice again with the updated repairs and get receipts online for buyers to see that the repairs have been made.   If the disaster happens after a contract is already in place, their is a paragraph in the contract to cover this possibility.   As you can see from the paragraph below, it covers several possible options when a disaster damages a property.   Be sure to speak to your agent and your attorney about your rights in cases like this.   

 CASUALTY LOSS: If any part of the Property is damaged or destroyed by fire or other casualty after the effective date of this contract, Seller shall restore the Property to its previous condition as soon as reasonably possible, but in any event by the Closing Date. If Seller fails to do so due to factors beyond Seller’s control, Buyer may (a) terminate this contract and the earnest money will be refunded to Buyer (b) extend the time for performance up to 15 days and the Closing Date will be extended as necessary or (c) accept the Property in its damaged condition with an assignment of insurance proceeds, if permitted by Seller’s insurance carrier, and receive credit from Seller at closing in the amount of the deductible under the insurance policy. Seller’s obligations under this paragraph are independent of any other obligations of Seller under this contract.

2.  Theft – When selling your home, it is always best to take an inventory of your possessions and put your most valuable items in safe spot somewhere outside the house.   Some thieves will take advantage of your house being for sale and either steal something while being shown the home, or break into the home.   As with any criminal, they have put a lot of thought in how they best can take advantage of other people and these crooks have figured out that homes for sale can be a big boon to their businesses.   Security cameras are always good to help capture images of the crooks.  It is also good to ask the listing agent to use a lock box that tracks who accesses the key and what time they do so.  In this way,  if something is stolen, you can look at who had the key during the time period the theft occurred and provide this information over to the police.   

3.  Mischievous Buyer Behaviors – The last item to keep in mind when selling your home is that buyers can behave very poorly when visiting your home.   I have seen buyers look through the desk drawers of the sellers (something I stopped when I saw it happening) to see if they can find out more about the owners.   Some buyers will do their best to figure out more about the sellers by looking at personal items in the house.  Buyers like to see if they can develop a story about who the sellers are and why they are selling their home.   Buyers will use restrooms without cleaning up after themselves (something else I will stop if I see it happening).   Buyers will sit on furniture and even eat your food (never happened to me but i have heard it from other agents).   Buyers will track mud throughout the house so if you are worried about that, require them to remove their shoes or use shoe coverings before entering the room.   If you can think of a way for someone to misbehave in your home during a showing, it is best you prepare for it, because most likely it has happened.  

Darren didn’t sound too excited when I was done.  I did remind him that actually disasters happen rarely and the contract covers the possibility of it happening.   Theft can be deterred by a little work on his part and making sure nothing of value is in the home.   Buyers will not be able to cause issues if you work to make sure the temptations are not there for them to do so.   I told him I would help him by coming over to the property that evening so we can walk the home again to make sure everything has been done that needs to be done before his next showing.   Darren gladly accepted.