Found some time today to write about a subject that is right at the core of my business. As a realtor we do a lot of things that people may not realize we do to help them, but the biggest goal in each transaction is to bring the buyer and seller to an agreement. Personally, I like it when the agreement is fair to both sides, but not every transaction is going to work out that way. The circumstances around the buyer or seller can always negatively impact them or the market itself can favor one over the other. I take a lot of pride in the way I help people through transactions and getting them to the finish line feeling good about the purchase or sell and the process in general. However, it seems over the last two years this has become harder and harder to do every time. In years past, I would seldom see a contract terminate. It seemed I could always find a way to bring the buyer and seller together when issues arose. In fact, I think at one point I went almost 3 years without one contract terminating. Conversely, the last two years in our real estate market have seen more terminations than ever before. I know this based on what other agents have told me and my own experiences. I have seen more contracts terminate in the last two years then I saw in the previous ten.
That’s right more in two years then in the past ten. Don’t get me wrong when the deal is just not right you should part ways. And yes, I am a real estate agent and I do like to get paid, but I also like to have happy clients, repeat clients, and to feel good about what I do for a living. Contracts terminating aren’t such a big deal on investment property, but when it comes to homeowners it can be a lot to handle. Sellers are making plans to pack up their whole life and then suddenly they’re not. Buyers are paying for appraisals and inspections only to terminate a contract and then pay for more appraisals and inspections. Overall, it is just a negative experience for both sides when it comes to a home purchase. So why are we seeing so many terminations? I am going to take stab at this and see what I come up with based on my experiences. Please try to keep my sense of humor in mind as you read further as I have tendency to rant.
- Seller’s Market– It can be quite competitive right now depending on your price point, and buyers are having to act quickly to offer on a property. In some cases, they offer sight unseen. A good agent will see this coming and avoid contracts with sight unseen buyers, but in some cases sight unseen is all a buyer can do if they don’t live in town. This creates a lot of offers that may not be all that sincere.
- A Culture of Fear– You must admit everyone is a little more scared after the recession and people in general just seem more sensitive overall. Just look at politics nowadays. Doesn’t matter what side you are on because both sides have lost their mind to some degree. Often, it seems like the buyers are looking for a reason NOT to buy instead of working out the problem or issue. A property inspection is not designed to be an automatic price concession. Yes, in many cases repairs are needed, but it also meant to inform the buyer about the property as the new owner. A home built in 1985 is not the same has buying one in built in 2016 so don’t expect the report to be same.
- Everyone is An Expert Now– Thanks to the internet and google no one is required to learn anything or at least that’s the way it seems these days. Everyone has an opinion and they are happy to advise their friend on what to do. You can simply google something from a report and read all kinds of information about the topic. While that can be a great thing, it can also grossly misinform the buyer or seller. I don’t give legal advice, tax advice, or medical advice because I am not a lawyer, a CPA, or a doctor. And I know just enough about those topics to be dangerous. It has become too easy to make a mountain out of a molehill especially when taking advice from someone not knowledgeable of the problem or even directly involved with the transaction. People should ask the expert and not their pal.
- Bad Real Estate Agents– The market has grown a lot recently and many more people have transitioned to real estate as a career. There are some very sharp people working in this industry that are good at what they do, but unfortunately like any profession there are plenty that are not. A bad agent will give you bad advice or offer none simply because they don’t know what to do. A bad agent will create a problem where none exists. A bad agent treats you like a lead and not a client. I urge people to understand that you don’t find a good agent by calling on a property through Zillow. You find one by researching, interviewing, or asking people who they know that is good. Everyone is entitled to learn their trade and gain experience, but a face on Zillow next to the property isn’t usually the listing agent, it is just a person that paid the highest price to put their face there.
- The Contract is a Buyer Option- Many commercial agents are surprised when they see the residential contract. Essentially, the contract gives the buyer a due diligence period or what we call a free look. This is when inspections can be done, and any other property concerns researched. At the end of the day, the buyer isn’t on the hook to buy for 10 to 14 days or even more. This makes it easier to walk away. However, I think this is necessary and fair to the buyer. So, this is just part of it and part of the job. But when things must move quick it allows a buyer to tie up a property and take a look around for two weeks without much risk.
So, what can you or I do about it? Well the seller or buyer can do a little more research when choosing an agent and that will go a long way in helping them through the transaction. For agents, we just have to do our job. It is our job to manage these transactions between people and advocate for our client. Unfortunately, that is going to result in some contracts being terminated, but if we work smarter and know more, we can keep people on the same page to get everyone across the finish line in good shape.