November and December are always our busiest time of the year. I think as the year comes to a close, people discover that their New Year’s resolution of buying or selling a house didn’t happen and it’s now or never for the year that’s ending. Right now we’re right at the middle of November and the typical escrow period is 45 days so this weekend is the time to act for most lenders to close by year’s end.
It’s interesting to watch the psychology of buyers and sellers play out in real life. It’s sometimes hard for sellers to internalize that list prices are a combination of a sense of market value without absolutely knowing market value + what the seller anticipates he’ll get out of his property. True market value is what a buyer will pay and close on the open market. When the price a buyer will pay is not exactly the price the seller had hoped or planned to get, the seller needs to decide if he cares more about selling his property now or he cares more about holding out for the price he hoped he’d get. And it’s not very different for the buyer. When a seller decides he’d rather hold out and wait for the price he hoped he’d get, a buyer has to decide if he’d rather own that particular house or he’d rather hold out and wait to pay a price for a different property that makes him feel like he got the deal he had in mind.
I got a call this week from a buyer who made a handshake deal with his neighbor to buy his neighbor’s house directly without any agents. The buyer called himself for a general inspector to look at the house and he moved past his inspection contingency. He called a lender to do a loan but the house didn’t appraise. And so he was calling around and asking agents for comps to send to the lender to send to the appraiser. He was panicking that his neighbor would cancel on him before he got his loan approved. I got another call from a buyer who is representing himself on a purchase but he’s running into trouble because he made a deal for the seller to remediate all the mold in the house before the close of escrow and the seller isn’t living up to his promise. We have a house in escrow with a buyer who hired a discount agent so he could get a commission rebate + a new lender who also agreed to give him money back. The buyer is stuck because his lender can’t approve the loan without paperwork from the IRS and the IRS isn’t responding and so the lender can’t move forward. The buyer stood in line for 6 hours yesterday to find out that the IRS isn’t issuing the needed forms for the next 6 months. They’re two weeks past their close date and they have no loan and they need to start a new loan from scratch now. It’s interesting to see consistently that the quality of the representation makes a huge difference for buyers and sellers – both financially and even more important, in whether or not they ultimately get to buy or sell at all.
I’m thinking this week of a light bulb moment from so many years ago. I sold a duplex on Detroit Street for a son who lived in Northern California after his mom, who lived at the property on Detroit, passed away. When the buyer removed all contingencies the seller was so intensely distraught. I asked what was wrong and he couldn’t identify it but he was so upset. We went back through the whole sequence of events that happened since his mom died and he started the process of selling the property to dive deep and to discover what was bothering him so much. I asked if he was happy with his choice of real estate agent because he interviewed multiple agents and he said yes. I asked if he was happy with the improvements he made to the property before sale and he said yes. We went through every step and there was nothing about the real estate process that he regretted. But he was so distraught. He was deep in thought for a while and then he concluded that parting from the property was representing letting his mom go because it was her HOME and that made it his home. He was grieving the loss of the home that was so much a part of him. It was so sad for him to know that mom’s home was sold and gone forever.
When we sell people’s homes, we’re working with their hearts and souls. There’s no way for the transaction to be just about the dollars and cents. It’s about people’s identity, pride, memories, connections to the people in their lives. I identified this week what I personally need from vendors who work with me as their client and it’s probably the very same thing that clients need from my team who is selling their home that’s really their heart and soul: high standards and a high level of competence, a lot of transparent communication, and a high level of caring and respect for the client and the outcome. We all need to be represented by competent people who communicate and who care.
I had a magical moment this week. By mistake I left my phone in a public restroom at The Farmers Market. I drove away without retracing my steps so that I wouldn’t be late for an appointment with a client. My assistant called my phone trying to reach me, and a woman in the restroom at The Farmers Market answered! She waited right outside the restroom and my assistant went and got my phone back. I was without my phone for a half hour total. We never got the woman’s name or number and I never had the opportunity to thank her personally for being so kind. But she’s a hero. People who care and who are kind are heroes.
This weekend feels like our real estate Black Friday weekend of the year because we’re exactly an escrow period away from year’s end. I wish for everyone to succeed in getting in touch with their dreams and what their souls really want and if it’s to buy or sell their home, that they do what they need to do to make it happen for themselves. I always love dreams coming true and happily ever after endings and it’s the biggest honor to shepherd people on their journey to get exactly where they dream to go!
Have an awesome weekend!