What does the Offer say?

No one hears this question anymore, but there was a time when every wise cracking kid had an answer to this question,  “What does your watch say?” Kid: “Nothin’. Ya gotta look at it.”  Which reminds me, we used to look at our wrist watch often. Now we look for hours in a day at the screen on the device in our hand. Where are we headed?

Every agent who has ever come to me with a question on what options are available to solve a problem in a transaction knows the question I will ask back. “What does the contract say?” (I’m waiting for someone to respond with, “It says nothin’. Ya gotta read it.”)  This evening I was reading  Wisconsin court case decisions regarding real estate contracts. (There’s a sentence rarely uttered out loud.)  With all of the work done by lawyers to make a case for their side, at the end of the day, the judge(s) refer to the words of the contract. They decide if the issue at question is the result of an ambiguity. They decide if a term is adequately defined, or commonly understood. After looking at the contract to see what it says, the judge decides. Knowing that the dispute we hope to avoid is decided by the terms of the contract, it makes sense we read the contract before deciding our options.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How are you different?

Have you noticed the trends real estate firms are chasing? Limiting service in the race to the pricing bottom is one. Mass customization is the other. We’ll concede the win in those areas to the firms best equipped to cut service.

Real estate service can be cheap. It can also be cheapened. The harder route is to make real estate service essential, and valuable.  We choose to go where others won’t; the harder road is less traveled. To live where others fear, all we have to do is know what matters to our clients one client at a time. Every person has their unique perspective, dreams, and concerns. The giant retail way sees every person as one who desires lowest cost and tolerates marginal quality.  That’s not us. Our clients demand fair pricing, and expect quality performance.  Fairness is relative to the quality. Where others fear they can not maintain high quality, they counter with limited service. Commit to less, charge less, be held to lower standards is one business model. Not ours, but it is an option.

By living in a learning, questioning, discovery centered environment, our agents prove themselves effective in personalizing service individually. They know how to hear you, and how to apply the solution tools we own to accomplish your intentions. Limited service might be the answer to  a questions we’re not contemplating.  More service, with greater quality and properly delivered is our way.

When you  can’t afford to be cheap and under served, talk to us. We agree with you.

 

 

Escalating Emotions. The case for Notices and Amendments.

No one wants to receive bad news or inconvenient requests. We know the terms “bearer of bad news” and “kill the messenger”.  We know them because the practice of killing the messenger/bearer of bad news is a practice that has only literally ended, not figuratively. We’ve all been slain and we’ve all done the killing. We know both sides.

Real estate licensees, in my opinion, expose themselves to unnecessary stress and liability every day. When it comes to communicating requests, responses, good news, or bad, indifferent or otherwise, we do not have to put ourselves in harms way.  I’ll go a step forward, we are not expected to or advised to.  The contract is an agreement between the Buyer and Seller. Negotiations are between the Buyer and Seller. Only their promises and commitments matter, unless we voluntarily step in and assume some liability.

When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, the real estate law as it applies to licensees provides efficient tools for keeping the parties involved in the discussion between themselves. Those tools  are Offers, Counter Offers, Amendments, Notices, CAMR, and a host of other forms created by the WRA. Our role as licensees is to put the intent of the parties in writing. Our obligation to use proper forms when available tells us to use these forms, not text, phone calls, emails, or faxes. (Delivery by email or fax is a different issue…I’m not talking about delivery.)

When a buyer wants to change the terms of the offer, even something like closing date, an amendment signed  by buyer presented to seller is the prudent method. A phone call between agents is not. People make significant schedule commitments to change closing dates. Implications of misunderstanding are severe.

When a person has a problem, the explanation coming from the party to the contract to the party of the contract keeps the agents out of harms way. Sure we have to prepare the wording, but we do that with direction from the party.

An easy way to articulate the message from your client is to imagine the parties are sitting across from each other. Simply write the facts the party would convey in a conversation. For example:

 

Using an amendment the buyer will simply “say” to the Seller:

(Our) “Buyer’s lender informed (us) Buyer that the final approval of the financing commitment will be issued on Monday July 24th. 

Items 1. Financing Contingency Line 219, change 30 days to 35 days.

Listing agent is obligated to promptly present this amendment. I know agents will sometimes react with “My seller (or buyer) won’t agree to this.”  They really don’t know what the seller will do until the seller does something.  With a document to sign in front of them, they have a chance to sign. With only a phone call, they can’t commit if they wanted to, but they can easily decline.

Does this make sense? If the reason to not use a form is to be expeditious, the prudent practice might be to use a form to avoid liability for the consequences of misunderstanding, forgetfulness, or legal professional finger pointing.

 

 

Contingencies. Who will do what by when, and then what?

Contingencies make up a checklist of verification of facts,  or due diligence of investigation.  A contingency will answer this sequence of questions. “What are we verifying, who will do the verification, who will pay for it, when will it be done, and what will we do if the investigation turns up something unexpected?”

 

My fears or yours?

I’m afraid of clowns, dolls that blink, high places with low railings, and overpaying a lot. If you don’t share my fears you don’t need me to protect you from what frightens me. Knowing where your courage begins allows me to customize an Offer to Purchase for you, and a customized Offer where courage not fear is expressed is more acceptable to home sellers.

The Wisconsin WB Offer to Purchase documents and much of what’s in the addenda of private firms is created to be buyer-consumer safe. Inspired by intent to avoid risk (things other people fear) for inexperienced real estate buyers, the creators of these documents inadvertently created form which makes all buyers appear to be standard with common fears, reservations, and reluctance. A customized Offer to Purchase separates you from the rest by showing the Seller you are more committed, fearless, prepared, able, and reasonable.

There are at least 20 ideas to improve your Offer to capture the Seller’s attention in this competitive Seller’s market. Being afraid is OK. Being protected from other people’s fears is a choice. Expect the expert to inform and offer ideas to show your courage, instead of their fears.