Dear Buyer – Don’t Give Up

Roseville Rocklin Playing Cards

Cue the Kenny Rogers tune … Know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em. 

So there are times as a buyer, when you should “fold ’em and walk away” from a home. You’re in escrow / contract and purchasing a home, but are feeling a tingling urge to walk away from the deal. A contract isn’t to be taken lightly, regardless of our investigation periods. But sometimes you have to walkaway for unforeseen life circumstance, loss, or perhaps a discovery about a home during investigations – just became too much to take on personally. Things happen. It’s life. But when it’s none of the “above” … what do you do, when it’s just that the seller is acting odd and/or might be difficult to work with … (now I know buyers can be the same way, trust me – it’s a human trait, not a role trait – hear/read me out). This will be helpful for both sides, I promise. 

Reality is, there are many buyers that will walk away from a transaction, when spooked by seller behavior (both seasoned and first-time home buyers). No matter how one tries to diffuse and analyze behavior, and one’s “why” for acting a certain way, it is a real thing. It can scare off folks – often when it comes to seller’s response to a buyer’s “request for repair.”

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So let’s pretend you find a home, that fits your pocket books, financing is secured, function, and location. Then … you realize the seller might be a “rough sailing partner” in this financial deal. Maybe it starts with preventing access to the home, canceling last minute on challenging appointments to set, odd hostility to small requests when no prior activity has created reason for distrust. Or a common one we see, seller doesn’t allow access to the home, but then are frustrated when items can’t be turned quickly because everyone has schedules to consider. Now, by typing any comments – I’m not defending anything. Just sometimes humanity needs to stay in tact, to realize “things happen.” Not all items are defendable, nor believable, but if you’re in real estate, you know things happen to even the best and most prepared individuals.

So here’s the process of realizing “something’s wrong here,” and some helpful tips analyzing each phase:

  • Noticing confusing or odd behavior patterns: So there may be odd challenges in the transaction, that you don’t understand why they’re there … You have been nothing but nice, and trying to be courteous but it could be: A. Listing agent may not be communicating clearly or sending mixed messages, that aren’t even there – everyone communicates differently. B. Seller is accepting for less than they hoped for … B. Seller is losing money and they’re simply frustrated, and it’s not personal. C. Emotional: it’s too hard to say goodbye, and they didn’t want to leave the home (relocation, loss, divorce, illness, or financial reasons). D. Seller may not have a place lined up to go to (not your problem, but it’s often one of the triggers). Or E. They didn’t get hugged enough as a kid, or they’re the “get-off-my-lawn” person in the neighborhood and EVERYTHING will be a battle (rare, but it does happen). ~ An objective person, may be able to separate themselves from emotion, but bad behaviors that get layered on so thick and heavy, sometimes it just becomes too much. This phase can take place even in negotiations. 

  • Control: You’ll see us shift into, empathic, but “stay in objective” mode. Why? If we know how much you love a home, note it’s not for being pushy, but the seller will not be there when you move in. The neighbors may be throwing a “good bye we’re sad to see you go” party, or they might be hosting a “don’t let the door hit you on the butt” party. You don’t know. You laugh, but we live this lifestyle. We hear the stories of “relief.” Give folks a why, if that helps to deal with a stressful situation. Snark-alert: Now, that is not to say, roll-over. No way. We’re just saying, if you’re getting a great deal on a home, this is the right home – maybe it might be worth ignoring the “drama mama.” Some folks get off on the chess game of the transaction, some folks might be oblivious with what’s not a big deal to them, is a big deal to you. Assess the situation, see what feels right – but think long and hard, before you walk away. (Second snark-alert: avoiding a “country sad song” of the “one that got away.”) It happens in life and in houses. True story, sans snark.

  • Hold tight: If it’s the home is it, inspections went smashingly, loan and appraisal went well – then you might want to consider ignoring the emotional war. Heck, it could be a nice seller and an aggressive agent (or both), you don’t know. Or a nice agent, that has a fiduciary obligation to their client and is doing what their client is asking them to do. Try and think the best of everyone, really … and to become as objective as you can tolerate, and not dive into the emotions and draw your own conclusions. Ask questions if you’re concerned about items.

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So question – when does one decide to cancel or wait it out?

Well, it’s case-by-case. So this post isn’t a blanket “cure-all” … but maybe it will help give some extra thought, to the “why” for odd behavior. There are stories and history of the home consider that tie into the seller (of course), their “why” for moving, and believing all the information shared. Ultimately, it’s you in the home after closing day, not that seller. They’ll be in your rear view mirror soon – if you opt to move forward.

The success and “after closing” invites … how many times we hear. “Wow that was a joke how they behaved, but I am SO glad I held out. I love this neighborhood. We love our home. Thank you SO much Steve and Heather.” <— not for hero mode, but this is the truth. Our job also includes simplifying and making it less emotional, and/or knowing when to calm, and knowing when to light the torches and it’s “time to head back to the drawing board.”

Home Sweet Home

Flickr: Photo property of and taken by: Zejneb Abdul Rahman

Are you glad you weathered the storm?

Aren’t you glad you got past that ugly “Request for Repair?” Aren’t you glad when the seller said they wouldn’t do anything and wouldn’t allow you to measure for carpet before closing – that you stuck it out, even with all the trouble? (yes, folks get ridiculous). It’s a short window of discomfort … take a step back. Most problems are fixable and great things, don’t always come easy. We are often defined by not the adversity, but how we react to the issue. Nothing is perfect, but if this is “the perfect for you” home … maybe it’s worth putting aside emotion? It’s something you’ll need to decide … Let us know if you need some guidance in your journey to home selling and buying. 

Words of wisdom: it’s a small world. Treat the transaction, with respect and that you could meet up with them in a store, and have no shame in your business game. 


Property Questions or Showings? 916-308-2446 – Homes@RosevilleAndRocklin.com – REALTORs Steve + Heather Ostrom
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Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage

See more informative posts at:  www.RosevilleAndRocklin.com – Roseville and Rocklin Real Estate + Lifestyle

Author: Heather Ostrom, Real Estate Marketing – REALTOR

Steve Ostrom, Primary Listing Agent + REALTOR – 916-308-2446 – Homes@RosevilleAndRocklin.com – Coldwell Banker  – Roseville, CA – CALBRE# 01344154 + 01899313 2200 Douglas Blvd B-200, Roseville, CA 95661

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  • Ryan Lundquist

    This was a very thoughtful post. It’s full of good stuff. I remember being in contract once with an owner who definitely needed to freshen up on his people skills. That was a red flag to begin the transaction, and more red flags kept coming. There was no sense of negotiation being able to happen other than meeting his unrealistic price. On top of everything there ended up being a bankruptcy lien on the property that made it impossible for the seller to sell because of how much he owed on the house. It was frustrating to spend a good $500 on inspections only to have that discovered. But thank God the deal fell apart because the home just needed too much work and I really didn’t want to pay what he was asking anyway. But too bad the owner was so unpleasant to deal with during the transaction. This makes me really appreciate your last line: “Treat the transaction with respect and that you could meet up with them in a store, and have no shame in your business game.” Very well stated.

    • @ryanlundquist:disqus thanks for chiming in … it’s a very delicate line to walk on this post, because not trying to take sides, but I am also giving perspectives to give levity to a transaction. This past year, was easily some of the most hostile and hardest files, we have dealt with, since the REO boom. I don’t know if it was our luck of the draw, or we’re simply increasing production. But we had many buyers verbalize, “I’m so glad we stuck out, past some of the games.” Sometimes, it’s simply folks are just being difficult. There’s no slicing and dicing it any other way. And it’s hard as the other party, and challenging as an agent, but our fiduciary duty is to our client. So it’s definitely complex … particularly if you have a strong sense, this is the best deal on the table or this is the best house we have seen and it’s a great deal, and/or overall cost, is still less than the previous property, and probably will be – but there’s no crystal ball, but you base it on your experience, history of your own work, layered with all the different variables. Ultimately buyer or seller are drivers. Thanks always for chiming in, and the thought-provoking dialogue (and your experiences, Ryan).

      • Ryan Lundquist

        I like that you heard this so often last year: “I’m so glad we stuck out. We love where we live.” Escrows are full of drama because people and emotions are involved. Not everyone has to sell for happy reasons either. That doesn’t excuse sellers from misbehaving, but it’s true.

        • We had it happen quite a few times – too many escrows were quite rough! That’s okay – it happens. And nobody is completely innocent on either side. Seems to be an approach and state of mind, more than who’s buyer or seller 🙂 Thanks for chiming in @ryanlundquist:disqus