Crazy Escrows in Sacramento Mean We Stay to the End
Of all the crazy things that could fan the flames in an escrow, this particular case I’m about to discuss was exceptional, but then many Sacramento short sales are unique. This was also a small transaction as compared to selling luxury homes in Sacramento or in Davis — but as a Sacramento Realtor, I really don’t look at the sales price and tally my potential commission or I’d never list and sell half of the properties that I do. Or, as my husband likes to point out, still much more than his paycheck.
The property itself was somewhat unusual in that deferred maintenance and dry rot was evident, among some nice upgrades. That makes it hard to appraise because some BPO agents struggle with repair issues. It’s easy when all the homes within a half mile are similar to each other like those homes in Elk Grove or Natomas, it’s quite another thing when the neighborhood is distressed and the homes are not so new.
We received a few offers during the first 2 1/2 months this home was for sale, but none at the price we needed to gain an approval from the bank. Agents seem to think we should be grateful for their buyer’s lowball offers and send them to the bank on the off chance they might get accepted, and I guess they seem to forget that we don’t work for their buyers. We work for the seller, and if we’re gonna work, by golly, we’d also like to get paid for it, however small that paycheck might be. We’re not interested in hearing why the buyers feel the home is worth less, in many cases we know what the bank expects. Meet it or you don’t go into escrow. Finally, a buyer who would occupy the home wrote an acceptable offer.
Wells Fargo sent us an approval within 8 weeks, which is a little bit longer for Wells Fargo than normal, but it was also a HAFA short sale. We still had the second lender to contend with, which wasn’t budging from its high demand and, on top of everything else and typically par for the course, vandals broke in to steal appliances and wreak havoc. The sellers handled much of the repair though their insurance company, thank goodness. Then we went through 4 or 5 rounds of proposed approvals from USAA until we were down to the last 400 bucks.
I pleaded, cried and practically wept out loud to the negotiator about the sellers’ particular medical condition. Think about the worst health thing that could possibly happen to a human being, apart from maybe cancer, and that’s what the seller was going through. Then February 1st rolled around and the 2015 HAFA short sale guidelines changed, so I resubmitted the package to Wells Fargo and requested a revised approval letter to include the $10,000 relocation incentive to the seller and to pay the second $12,000. It took Wells Fargo another month to release the revised approval letter, which was finally, finally followed by the approval from USAA.
The appraiser then requested a pest report and a pest completion. Fortunately, the buyers agents, super team that they were, stepped in to help the buyer handle it. We were all ready to fund and close when the appraiser went back to confirm the pest work was completed, and she decided, on a whim, to make the crazy escrow even crazier. She noted that the floors were buckling and presented a trip hazard. Bam, the buyer’s agent was over at the home on his knees with a belt sander, fuming and mentally cursing that appraiser, I’m sure. Who knew an appraiser was also a home inspector? There’s a special place in hell for those kinds of people. If the appraiser had a problem with the floors, why didn’t she note it in the first place instead of waiting for the funding and preventing a timely closing?
Yet, close we did. From start to finish on this short sale, over 8 long months, we dealt with hostility from other agents, rejections from the lender, vandalism, inept appraisers, repair requests for the buyer, and yet in the end we prevailed. I don’t give up. As the seller mentioned yesterday when I called to congratulate, that couple would hate to think what could have happened in some other agents’ hands.
The thing is this crazy escrow was gratifying in many ways to me. A first-time homebuyer got a great deal on her first home, and the sellers received their release of liability, plus $10,000 to help ease the transition into a new life elsewhere.