Between accepting the offer and agreeing to the contract, a seller backpeddles on whether that flat-screen TV and the chandelier over the dining room table are included.
Then there’s the seller who suddenly is asking that contingencies stated in the offer be removed from the contract.
Or, there’s the buyer who is beginning to express second thoughts about the closing date.
And what to make of the buyer who doesn’t return the signed contract quickly?
These are just a few of the warning signs of transactions that could prove to be a rough ride or even result in derailment, and they should not be ignored. Consider what an acquaintance of mine related to me in the following e-mail, which I quote verbatim:
We are dealing with the seller from hell right now who totally just screwed us royally this week. Loooong story short, she has been a nightmare from day one (bickered over contract issues… lied about maintenance… and so on!). The final straw is that she ultimately wanted to close later in August (we signed a contract in MARCH!) We explained we could not because I am pregnant and due around that time. So.. we all agreed on July.
The contract said on or about July 1…which gives her 30 days to close. She told us she had a new place… was board approved and set up our closing for July 30th. What we didn’t know is that she was totally lying! She has not even been asked for a board interview yet. She called 3 days before our closing to tell us she is refusing to close.
Our ONLY legal recourse is to issue her a “time is of the essence” letter which forces her to close in 30 days or she could face litigation. SO… in the end – she gets her late August closing. We, on the other hand, had agreed to give up our apartment. How disgusting!!
So… I am almost 8 months pregnant and was hysterically crying the other day because I thought we would have to put everything in storage and live in a hotel. Mind you.. we have a 2 1/2 year old! Fortunately, we are in a rental and the people taking over our lease are willing to push it back a month. This woman and her lawyer have no morals whatsoever!
I’ve quoted her at length because her rage and anguish are so palpable. And justified.
It may be that either side of a real estate deal may not be able to put a finger on growing doubt, but it is important for buyers and sellers to heed their instincts and their intuition. They have to trust their gut.
In other words, if they sense something, they should do something.
If doing something means buyers have to sacrifice the particular home that matches their dream and that they must continue the search, those buyers will suffer less regret then than a situation in which nothing goes according to plan.
Dream to nightmare is not going to be a pleasant journey.
For sellers, the prospect of additional open houses, possibly lower offers and a delay moving will hurt, too. But it won’t hurt as much as having taken their home off the market while their current transaction proceeds fitfully to its conclusion, even to a dead end.
It is easy in retrospect to say that the woman I’ve quoted above would have been wise to move on. Of course, that is easier said than done. Denial is a powerful force.
To understand the obstacles, we need only consider couples who keep struggling to stay in a partnership or marriage that should have ended long before the individuals went their separate ways. Hope holds people together, and so it holds together many of the most difficult transactions.
Some questionable transactions will muddle through successfully, but buyers and sellers alike need to be aware that they ignore accumulating static at their peril.
Tomorrow: Weekly Roundup
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Licensed Associate Real Estate Broker
Senior Vice President
Charles Rutenberg Realty
127 E. 56th Street
New York, NY 10022