"This is a money call," my son said. (Of course it was, why else do college age kids phone home?). "I need to buy dress shoes." (Okay, I wasn't expecting that.)
A few weeks ago, Case revealed that he'd decided to rush and been accepted into a fraternity (Phi, Kappa, Sigh . . .) Now that he'd been admitted, a makeover was clearly in his future, thus the impromptu phone call home. With dress shoes in hand, can pleated khakis, a sport coat and a tie be far behind? (Probably not.) I suspect this will only be the first of many such "money calls." Still, if it takes a fraternity to elevate my son's sense of style, I will happily support his decision and (less enthusiastically) write the checks.
"Less than enthusiastic" is how sellers often feel when they receive the dreaded "money call." Having negotiated and agreed upon price with a willing and qualified buyer, and having waited out the inspection and appraisal periods outlined in the contract with patience and good form, it can often be downright sobering news when buyers ask for - or demand - credits. More unsettling still, is the request for a price reduction in return for closing the transaction. Wait a minute - what just happened here? I thought we had a deal! (Not so fast.)
What happened is a shift in power between buyer and seller realities. Not that there aren't popular homes that still attract multiple offers in our marketplace (there are) but the vast majority of listings are taking longer to sell and when they do, negotiating back new discovery is "de riguer." It's the 80/20 rule: 80 % of the pending sales are experiencing aggressive negotiations while 20% are receiving so much attention that the buyers have little room in which to maneuver, which creates an understandable, but very real, disconnect.
So where does that leave you?
As a general rule, you should absolutely expect some push and pull in today's more conservative marketplace (think Dr. Doolittle) even in the case of multiple offers.
Here's the good news - you're in contract (!) and that's news worth celebrating, but don't pop the champagne just yet. Getting from the "accepted offer" stage to the "close of escrow" reality can often be a veritable minefield and regretfully, just slightly less painful than a root canal. (Throb!)
These nuanced negotiations are in large part the reason why, Realtors haven't gone the way of the travel agent - or the Dodo bird - nor should they, especially in our more topsy-turvy world. Now more than ever, you absolutely need third-party negotiators to navigate the home buying and selling "waters."
This is delicate stuff folks. Not only are we talking numbers, we are often dealing with emotionally charged decisions around the sale as buyers start to "second-guess" their love affair upon receiving an encyclopedic stack of "disclosures" (thump!) while sellers simultaneously begin to feel "insulted" at the microscopic examination their previously "lovely" home is now undergoing (twang!). Of course, the combination is highly volatile. Should we expect anything less?
Yes, we should - which is where thoughtfully outlined expectations come into play, as well as the experience of a seasoned agent and a "hands on" local broker (think The GRUBB Co.). With all due respect to the "win-win" school of thought, real estate transactions are often adversarial by nature . . .
So here's my list of GREAT Expectations:
So there you have my list of Great Expectations. Please note, you were warned.
Got to run, my son is calling . . . I'd better find the checkbook!
btw- my favorite response to last week's question"What sign best describes you?" came from a loyal reader who wrote to say that her moniker would have to be "Work In Progress!" That sums up today's market in a nutshell. (I couldn't have said it better myself.) Thanks to all who participated.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 12 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.