Dealing with seller’s remorse is an interesing piece written by Elizabeth for another publication. It is true that seller’s remorse happens and they cancel listings. Without motivation a seller may put a toe in the water but will not dive in. Enjoy…
— JaCi Wallace
Real estate agents are used to working with buyers who sometimes freak out when they realize they have actually purchased a home. Sure, looking at homes, writing offers, negotiating, it’s all fun and games until the time comes when a seller says, “Heck, I’ll take your offer.” That’s when the panic sets in — which, by the way, is a normal reaction for a buyer.
Seller motivation is important in any Sacramento real estate transaction and extends beyond an urge to sell a home. It extends all the way to closing. Seller motivation means many things, though. When buyer’s agents ask me if my seller is motivated, they are asking if my seller will accept a lower price for her home, and the correct answer to that question is: I send all offers to the seller. A listing agent who responds without permission: heck yeah, let’s negotiate, could be guilty of violating her fiduciary duty to the seller.
Sometimes I spot listings in MLS in which the listing agent has entered that phrase into confidential remarks, the seller is motivated. This may cause a person to think to herself: sure, of course the seller is motivated because the seller has his home on the market, right? Followed by well, there is the matter of the home being priced $50,000 over market value, so that sort of extinguishes the flames of seller motivation right there. In those types of cases, seller motivation might be a secret code to buyer’s agents, letting them know the agent is aware but can’t say so.
Sellers often don’t want to reduce the price because they expect a buyer to negotiate. They fail to understand that buyers really don’t want to negotiate. They cannot wrap their heads around that fact because they are too stuck on the mentality of being a seller. In cases of homes priced too high, buyers often just skip them.
There is also seller motivation that backfires and turns into seller’s remorse. This tends to happen when a home quickly sells or at a higher price than the seller anticipated. The flurry of marketing activity, preparing the home for the market, surviving buyer showings and open house traffic can shift the focus from moving out to getting ready to sell. When the purchase offer arrives, it can cause shock, especially when the seller typically needs to sign within a 24-hour period. A seller can feel pushed. Aggravated.
Harried, exhausted, irritated and feeling like always running a day behind can cause seller’s remorse. It’s not unusual for a seller to question whether he or she has done the right thing by signing a purchase contract. Often this feeling of uncertainty will pass if they just give it a little bit of time to settle in. We all do not process data in the same way. This is why it’s more important now than ever to establish and review your reasons for selling a home before putting your home on the market.
I try to spend a sufficient amount of time with prospective sellers before I take a listing. I met with two different sellers on Friday who are not yet ready to sell their homes. One seller lives in Elk Grove and the other in a 1920’s brick bungalow in Midtown Sacramento. It was easy for me to ascertain that the time is not right because I asked the right questions. The last thing anybody needs is an unexpected upheaval in her life or feeling coerced into signing a listing agreement. I have plenty of patience and compassion. When you’re ready to sell your home in Sacramento, I hope you will call Elizabeth Weintraub at 916.233.6759.
This is how Sacramento real estate happens today. Sometimes you sell in one day. If you are lucky. We are ensconced in a real estate market of low inventory. Lots of buyers are scouring the new listings every day, looking for that special gem. If your new home listing fits those requirements, bam, it’s sold. There is no shame in selling a house in one day.
Last week I put a bunch of new listings on the market, and one property in particular, well, the first few days were a little slow. No phone calls, not much activity for 24 hours. Then, out of the blue, an offer arrived. It was the sole offer. Not really astonishing given the fact that there were no inspections nor opportunity to view the interior until after offer acceptance. While this did not sell in one day, it still sold fairly quickly.
The seller asked if he should take the offer. It was over list price by a few thousand, which to this experienced Sacramento real estate agent is a sign of urgent and serious commitment by the buyer, followed by perhaps a hope harbored by the buyer that the few thousand extra will be recouped upon inspection — the answer to that game-playing strategy when I’m the listing agent is generally NO, because I bring that possibility to my seller’s attention at inception. Plus, I hail from Minnesota; I expect people to stay true to their word and don’t much care for those who lie. The seller could not believe that we received an offer so quickly. The implication was should he wait to see if a higher offer would arrive?
We had received no phone calls and no inquiries. I suggested he take it. When opportunity presents itself, you can be cautious, but you should proceed. I had that lesson engrained in me when I was a kid — only fools kick the door of opportunity closed. Sure enough, though, a few days later, we received another offer not as attractive. The first offer is usually the best.
Selling is just the beginning. Closing is another journey.
This doesn’t mean that your particular escrow will close 30 days from short sale approval because your particular escrow closing period is defined by your Residential Purchase Agreement. Right on the first page, close to the top, there is a box that will probably be checked and the number “30” or “45” written into the space. That number could be “10” or “14.” The closing date is defined in paragraph 1 D. It can also be written into the blank line such as “10 days after bank approval.” But whatever date is agreed to as closing, it always follows the short sale approval letter. The time frame for closing begins on the date the short sale approval letter is received. In the event of dual lenders, the time frame begins when the second approval letter is received.
If the buyer needs to get a VA loan or some other type of loan that might take a few days longer, one might need to get an extension to the short sale approval letter. In other words, the parties to a short sale can close sooner than the date in the approval letter if the purchase contract so stipulates, but cannot close later than the date in the approval letter, unless the agent obtains an extension from the short sale bank.
Closing escrow after short sale approval is sometimes very stressful for sellers. Especially if short sale approval is received faster than the Sacramento short sale agent initially estimated. Lenders are unpredictable at times. There can be no rhyme nor reason why one month the approvals take 90 days and the following month, an approval arrives at 4 weeks. Approval times like this can throw a seller into hysteria. A seller might not be prepared to move, either financially, or emotionally, or both.
To be fair to all parties, though, if a seller has concerns about closing and moving, the first thing the seller should do is talk to her short sale agent about it. The last thing a seller should do is wait 3 days before closing to announce that the seller is unprepared to move. Sellers who refuse to close can cause extreme havoc in a transaction and incur legal ramifications.
If a seller needs more than one extension in a short sale, the bank is within its rights to withhold that extension. Often banks will not issue a 2nd or a 3rd short sale extension. Furthermore, the bank can cancel the short sale. A seller can’t call the bank and ask for an extension, because the seller won’t be speaking to the short sale negotiator but instead will talk to a customer service representative who is not authorized to give out that type of information — and might not be able to decipher notes in the file even if she has the ability to discuss it.
When a short sale starts over, it means several things. First, there will most likely be a new BPO completed. That means the sales price can change. Moreover, if the seller qualified for a HAFA incentive, the bank might not allow the HAFA the second time around. Disqualifying for the first HAFA is often grounds to dismiss any further HAFA actions. But in actuality, the worst that would happen is the seller would need to find a new buyer, which is the place the seller was in when the short sale first began. It’s not a big headache for sellers to refuse to close a short sale.
But it is a huge, gigantic headache for the buyer who has paid for an appraisal, paid for a home inspection, canceled utilities, transferred mail, lined up movers, packed up the house and was ready to move until the bombshell fell. It’s risky to try to buy a short sale because nobody is gonna make the seller close escrow if the seller doesn’t want to close. There is never any guarantee that the seller will close escrow.
However, it doesn’t mean a buyer doesn’t have recourse or that a buyer can’t sue.
You know what happens when a mortgage lender can’t perform? They come knocking on the door, whimpering like a dog, holding their tails between their legs and begging: Please sir, will you extend our escrow? Sometimes that answer is NO. Especially in a seller’s market like the real estate market we have in Sacramento at the moment. Sellers get tired of waiting for buyers to close. It’s not just seller’s remorse. Sellers can and will cancel your escrow if you can’t close on time. Sellers might decide they’d rather wait until spring, when maybe prices will go up even further.
If you’re trying to close a Sacramento short sale, it’s even worse. It’s not just the seller who might refuse to extend, it’s also the seller’s short sale bank. Banks are refusing to provide a short sale extension. Those short sale approval letters contain an expiration date. If the bank will agree to extend, the bank might charge the buyer $100 or so a day for that extension. It’s a no-win situation for that first-time home buyer. It doesn’t matter what the contract says, that verbiage won’t save you. It matters how long the short sale bank will give a buyer to close, and that timeframe governs your transaction.
Perhaps a bigger question is why can’t mortgage lenders close escrow on time for today’s home buyers? What is the problem? It’s not like the banks are overwhelmed with business because there aren’t that many buyers in escrow. We have very low inventory — we have fewer than 1,600 homes for sale in Sacramento County. Interest rates are low, but they’ve been low for months and months. Yeah, loan restrictions have tightened, but we’ve been jumping through hoops for a long time. Nothing has changed overnight. I propose that banks are swamped because they refuse to hire enough people to get the job done. They’ve made so many cutbacks in personnel during the downturn that they’ve gotten used to thin payrolls. Cheapskates.
Perhaps there is some little old lady sitting in a dark room with a single light bulb dangling from the ceiling over her desk. This little old lady is working on your file. She looks at her watch. Stops working. Oh, my goodness, deary me, it’s time to go to Starbucks. She leaves. And she doesn’t come back for a few days, and nobody cares.
It’s no big secret why home sellers in Sacramento prefer a cash offer over a financed offer. The performance in underwriting is pathetic. Totally sucks. Big banks, little banks, makes no difference.
The solution: If you’ve got a choice in choosing a mortgage lender, stay local. Pick a person you can grab by the shirt collar and shake a little bit. And get that guarantee upfront that your file will be processed in a timely manner or you might not be buying a home in Sacramento.