When Does a Home Buyer get Possession?

buyer possessionNew real estate agents have it kinda tough in a market where they are supposed to know what they don’t know, especially when it comes to the final walkthrough for the buyer. The problem seems to be that some think it’s a time for the buyer to conduct a final inspection, which it is not. I’m not sure where they get that idea, but probably from the same place that other bad ideas come from, the land of assumption. To get to the land of assumption, you’ve first got to cross the river of confusion and hope you don’t have to navigate blindfolded at high tide.

I wish there was some sort of handbook, filled with mistakes that rookie agents make, so we could buy this book and gift it to them, but life seems to do a pretty darned good job of preparing them for mistakes through the gift of consequences. It’s a good way for people to remember mistakes and not make them again. Although it can be painful.

Things are not always as logical as one might assume. For example, for some reason, a buyer’s agent thought a home would be vacant for the final walkthrough. The agent believed it would be completely void of personal belongings, including said person. This information was conveyed to the buyer as a matter of fact when it was actually a matter of a big mistake. I suppose when it’s your first deal, you don’t necessarily think through every step or you believe things will happen a certain way, even when they happen a different way.

In times of confusion like this, it’s always a good idea to read the Residential Purchase Contact. Buyer possession is handled in a paragraph under “Closing and Possession.” By default, the contract gives possession of the home to the buyer on the day of closing at 6 PM. This means the seller retains possession of the property and can keep his or her personal items in the property up until 6 PM on the date it closes.

So. if you’re planning to do a final walkthrough that morning, guess what? The seller may still be living in the home and still in the process of moving out. If that is unacceptable to the buyer, the time to address this is prior to closing, say around the time the contract is presented for acceptance or any time after that, prior to the date of closing. One does not wait until the day it is supposed to close escrow and then decide to ask the seller to vacate the premises earlier. That’s poor planning and likely to backfire.

But that’s why buyers want to hire an experienced agent to help. Buyers deserve an agent who understands buyer possession and can arrange for possession to be delivered in the manner the buyer desires.

Call partners Elizabeth Weintraub, Sacramento Broker or JaCi Wallace, RE/MAX Gold at 916.233.6759.

Chickens in the Road and Fairytale Town

chickensMy office is always running some kind of “togetherness” team-building promotional event for its real estate agents, but expecting this Sacramento REALTOR to dress up like a chicken should not be one of them. To be fair, this did not happen in real life but it is what I dreamed last night, and let’s face it, sometimes dreams turn into reality; at least mine often do.

They styled my hair into a chicken comb — btw, am I the only person in the world to google: what is the name of the thing on top of a chicken’s head — and dressed me in white skinny-leg pants, paired with a yellow top and painted scary looking chicken toes on my feet. It was some sort of Mardi Gras party and there was me, dressed like a chicken. You know, I can see the reason I had that dream. But it’s not what you are probably thinking.

When I was in Molokai earlier this month, one thing you can’t help but notice is all of the red hens and roosters –chickens, running in the wild. You see them everywhere on the island, pecking in the grass, sprinting through the trees along side the road. If you ask Don, who looks like he’s been driving Midnight Taxi for decades, he’ll tell you it’s because the plantation guys brought in chickens around the turn of the 20th Century for cockfights. He’ll also groan about the guy on Kamehameha Highway who won’t share his mangoes with anybody, even if you politely ask.

On top of that, I spotted a chicken yesterday walking around the parking lot outside of Fairytale Town. I suppose they can fly. Or maybe some careless kid left a gate open. It was strutting back and forth, wondering why it had black tar under its feet instead of sand, I imagine, or maybe it was enjoying exploration beyond the fence and sending text messages back to the other chickens: nope nothing here in the parking lot except for some Sacramento REALTOR pounding on her cellphone and blowing up Ingress portals.

I felt the need to stop at Fairytale Town on my way home to Land Park after shooting photos of a new listing in Freeport Park, just across the road from Hollywood Park. The portals beckoned. For more info, call Elizabeth Weintraub, 916.233.6759. There are a ton of Ingress portals at Fairytale Town. And that one chicken running loose.

The Fate of an Appraiser is Worse Than an Internet Mortgage Lender

sacramento agents talk to appraisersA friend promised yesterday: tomorrow will be better. Well, honestly, tomorrow will be different but it won’t necessarily be better because there is always room for stuff to get much worse. And tomorrow is already here. The important thing is to keep a sense of humor about the roller-coaster ride called Sacramento real estate. Because managing real estate transactions as a listing agent involves sometimes jumping into the middle of a tornado, even if it’s not necessarily your job to fix the situation.

One of the biggest problems we’re facing right now is a shortage of appraisers. We are selling about 80% fewer homes than we were 10 years ago but our pool of appraisers has shrunk. A bunch already dropped out. Plus, many appraisers are aging, getting older, near retirement, and I think they’re leaving the appraisal business because of the way the business is moving:

  • Being plucked out of an appraisal pool as nothing more than a number and not based on value or experience, and
  • Getting their paychecks sliced by at least a third because the appraisal management company needs to get its cut, and
  • Now, with all the new regulations, especially collateral underwriting, the same job takes 3 times longer.

Who wants to be an appraiser anymore? Being an appraiser is a sucky job and it’s getting much suckier.

There’s like one appraiser left standing on the face of the earth in all of Sacramento, and nobody can find that guy to do an appraisal for several of my listings which are so far past due for a contingency release it’s insane. Throw into that mix an East Coast internet lender, and I don’t think I have to tell you which company, and we’re lucky if the loan ever closes. There is something to be said for dealing locally and not using an appraisal management company out of Ohio or Pocatello, Idaho, or American Samoa.

When will buyers wake up and realize that no internet lender is going to give them a break or some special deal that a local lender cannot provide? There is nothing magical about getting a mortgage loan unless you end up with a person managing the file who doesn’t pay attention to detail. Doesn’t hit all the marks when the marks should be cleared. Lets things slip through without noticing. It’s all the same bag o’ money and rates can change hourly. Don’t get suckered by slick websites and false promises.

Pick a local mortgage guy you like and trust and stick with that person. You very well might find that your Realtor is recommending a mortgage lender for a reason. That mortgage lender can find you an acceptable rate. You don’t have to hop online to find some stranger who can mess up your transaction ten ways from Sunday in exchange for waving a low interest rate in your face. You can get the best rate available and competent service if you choose a local lender with a strong track record.

But no, buyers go with the fast talker they found online who works several time zones away and is accountable to no one. By the time they figure out they had made the wrong choice, it’s too late. Instead, listen to your buyer’s agent. If the agent is recommending a lender, it’s for all the right reasons.

In Defense of Multiple Offers from Sacramento Home Buyers

homebuying tipsThe biscuit recipe for Sacramento home buyers that is guaranteed to drive multiple offers in the Sacramento real estate market goes like this: add 2 cups of a highly desirable home in the right location, perfect condition and priced well, toss in a pinch of salt representing all of the other homes for sale in that particular neighborhood (none), stir in 2 teaspoons of pending sales, cut in a stick of low interest rates and blend well with a cup of eager Sacramento home buyers. Drop on to a Sunday open house and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes — within 2 hours they’ll be history.

Our Sacramento real estate market reflects low inventory, low interest rates and a high demand from buyers. Sacramento home buyers, who often say things like: I don’t want to be involved in a multiple offer situation. It makes me wonder what they mean. Do they want to buy a home that nobody else wants? Some ugly dog that is overpriced and under-loved? Is that it? Because there are some of those homes for sale in Sacramento, and nobody is trying to buy those homes. The field is wide open for that kind of home. No competition for that stuff.

Don’t they want to be the winning bidder for a home that everybody drooled over but only they were smart enough and lucky enough to win? One thing is for certain when a home buyer goes into contract in these situations: when the time comes to sell that home down the road — maybe not next year, maybe not in 10 years, but eventually when that buyer turns into a seller — that same intense interest from buyers will still exist. The home will hold its appeal. Your hair might start to turn gray by then and your body might run off southbound, but that home will still be alluring, even after the Sacramento real estate market cools.

That extra $5,000 or whatever a multiple-offer might cost, can be the difference between owning a home or not owning a home. Think how less important that will seem 5 years, 10 years from now. Sure, your emotional conscience might be fighting a losing battle by telling you not to pay more than list price, but what if the list price is low to start with? Listen to your logical, rational side. What do the comparable sales reflect? Because remember, the home will most likely still need to appraise. It matters less what the list price is and matters more the value of the home.

And let’s not forget about appreciation. Home prices are on an upward swing right now.

I also wonder if “I don’t want to be involved in multiple offers” means the buyers intend to lowball the sales price and realize they can’t possibly win with that strategy when other buyers are offering more than list price. Of course, if that’s the case, they are not buying a highly desirable home in the Sacramento real estate market this spring.

I’ve heard agents say they think sellers are greedy when multiple offers occur. As though somehow it is the seller’s fault for maintaining such a beautiful home in pristine condition. It’s not the sellers who are driving the marketplace; it’s the buyers. Buyers establish final value. My advice is don’t worry about what everybody else is doing. Focus on yourself. Write your best purchase offer and call it a day. Don’t wander about wondering “what if” . . .

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