I spent last Monday realizing my worst nightmare. (Okay, there's a bit of hyperbole here, but just the same . . .) Having been talked into participating in the annual PHS Booster's Tennis & Golf Tournament at the fabulous Claremont Country Club in Oakland, I was certain I would prove to be the weakest link on my team. Regrettably, that was true.
I love tennis. I grew up playing tennis, and I used to play it well, but not last Monday (in truth, I haven't played well in years). Last Monday, I let anxiety and self-induced stress get the best of me and performed rather poorly. Double Fault. (Boo-hoo, first-world problems.) It wasn't until the third and fourth rounds that I actually redeemed myself enough to win back some much-needed points (although it helped immensely to have a PHS tennis coach as my doubles' partner in the last two rounds - Ringer!).
If I'm being totally honest (and why not?) "match play" has never been my forte, even when I was at my best. (Who performs well when they're in the midst of a panic attack?) As all of us have learned at one time or another, ANXIETY, and STRESS rarely work in anyone's favor - regardless of the forum.
Not surprisingly, there is a bit of anxiety, and stress that have crept into our markets as of late as our representatives in Washington DC struggle to pass a budget and avoid defaulting on the National Debt Ceiling. (Really? Let's suspend Congress' pay until they can reach an accord. Then, we'd very likely see some REAL movement.) With predictions of dire, global reverberations, it's an easy jump to project catastrophic, economic, world-wide consequences.
Please don't panic.
Unfortunately, we seem to be at the juncture far too often. (I suspect that's NOT how most of us operate at home with respect to managing our own finances.)
Although I have no answers as to how the gridlock will ultimately play out in our nation's capital, I can politely suggest that if you are currently in escrow, funding might well be delayed until the offices of Social Security and the IRS are up and running.
While several major banks are relaxing income requirements until after the close of escrow, many are NOT, so it IS imperative to ask the questions upfront: "Will there be a delay in funding and if so, for how long?" For Jumbo borrowers (loans above $625,500) stricter guidelines remain largely in place. In such a circumstance, CASH really IS KING - as are reliable lenders who can deliver funding in a timely fashion. (BTW - a missed financial deadline, given the current market conditions, isn't the Buyers' fault, NOR is it the agent's fault, NOR is it the mortgage originator's fault (let's play fair)). It's simply circumstances beyond our control.
While the wait for funds may be difficult to bear, (especially if you need these funds to close on the next property) it is unlikely that a Buyer in second position will fare any better. Unless there is an "ALL-CASH" offer at the ready, starting over, is still starting over.
Better to work with the party currently in contract, than to begin again.
NO ONE likes delays, especially the Buyers, who may very well have to pay extra to maintain their "loan lock," OR risk paying higher interest rates a week or two down the road when the loan finally funds. In short, delays costs both sides time and money and both parties are likely to share the pain in equal parts. Put another way, we are all in this together.
Assuming reasonable minds will come together, the backlog of requests will soon be filled, and loans will undoubtedly get funded as we return to "business as usual" in Washington. In the meantime, if we give everyone a bit more time, our expectations will better align with the current market realities.
Note to both Buyers and Sellers: this isn't the time to be punitive or impatient. Renegotiate price and terms ONLY if warranted, but DO amend - in writing (!) - any extensions to the timelines or changes to the contract.
As for me, was I really hoping to play tennis as well as Sharapova, or on a more modest scale, as well as my dedicated tennis friends who play religiously? (A girl can dream.) The reality is that age, injuries, and lack of practice have ALL taken their toll on my disappearing tennis game (we all have to work with life's limitations). If I really want to play better, I have only to commit the time and effort and put in the work!
The truth is, it takes practice and repetition to maintain consistency. Next time, I will either politely decline the invitation, OR better yet, decide to enjoy the day for what it is - an opportunity to socialize with my peers, get a little exercise, and have fun while supporting the Boosters.
And truly, if my greatest nightmare is that "I will play tennis poorly," than I really need to rethink my priorities (Ya think?) Hey, maybe it's time to take up golf . . . (A BIG thank you to my incredibly kind team captain, Nick Levinson. Now there's a guy who's got game . . .)
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.