Earnest Hemingway on Writing Counter Offers and Contingencies

My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the best and simplest way. Earnest Hemingway on writing

Real estate Counter Offers are ideal forms for saying a lot without writing much. In fact, if we have a well drafted Offer to Purchase, the less we write on a Counter Offer, the better the chance of being understood and steering clear of creating a contradiction or a whole new issue.

Here’s a simple method of saying the most while writing the least.

You have an Offer where the drafter used  Additional Provisions on page 3 of the Offer to insert this condition:  “This Offer is contingent upon Seller crediting buyer $3,000.00 at closing to be applied toward buyer’s mortgage loan costs and prepaid expenses.” You presented the Offer and the seller’s only objection is this $3,000 credit. Seller is willing to agree to the rest of the terms, provided the buyer will accept a $1,000 credit instead of $3,000.    Pick up a WB 44 Counter Offer. Notice on line 6 the first condition is already written in. It reads All terms and conditions remain the same as stated in the Offer to Purchase except the following:_________________________________.  

Rather than rewriting the entire contingency and possibly altering the intention, change only what needs to be changed.  In this case $3,000 needs to be changed to $1,000.0.

Line 7 of the Counter offer will look like this:

7 (1) Page 3 of 9. Lines 165 to 172. Additional Provisions. Line 167 change  “$3,000.00” to “$1,000.00”.

I like this method as a recipient of the Counter Offer because the wording tells me where to look. Done right, it’s like having an instructor saying: “OK Meyer, See the Offer in your hands? Good. Now first go to Page 3 of 9. Then go to Lines 165 to 172. This is the Additional Provisions section. Here’s all you gotta do,  change $3,000.00  to $1,000.00.

We are licensed  to write terms that make sense, can be understood, and properly reflect the intentions of the parties. If everything else is acceptable, leave it alone and walk the reader through the form to the changes your client prefers. That should work for anyone who wants to be precise and isn’t paid by the word.

It’s none of their business that you have to learn (how to write). Let them think you were born that way. E. Hemmingway

 

 

When is the best time to sell in Madison?

WRA Home Sales Graph Without looking at the graphics, in what month do you think home sale closing activity bottoms out in Wisconsin? What month is peak? Are you surprised? What do you think are the reasons for the rise and slide of home sales in Wisconsin? What do you think Florida sales closing data looks like?   This is California’s data.  Imagine that, the three areas of the country have similar peaks and valleys.

People buy and sell homes when they’re ready. Obviously more people are ready to put their homes on the market in the spring even in states where four seasons is only a hotel chain. In Madison we have to agree, looking for a home is more enjoyable weather wise when we’re not slipping and sliding over ice and up to our knees in snow. Of course with high demand and relatively low inventories early spring to July packs a competitive punch to the spirit of home buyers.

So we know the best time to be on the market is April and May…2016. What now? It’s October 2016 and turning back the clock is still a future fantasy. We live in a real estate reality world. The best time to put a home on the market is always, when you are ready. And there is much more to consider to determine your readiness than how the flowers have grown. An orderly real estate process is more likely when the parties are prepared financially and emotionally. Regardless of the weather, there are market conditions that make fall and winter a fine time to put a home up for sale. Consider how battered and bruised buyers were in the spring, those who came in second, third,…sixth on homes in your neighborhood are educated and reluctant to come in any less than first on the next great home in your neighborhood. Fewer buyers have fewer homes to choose from in October through January. Sure the competition is down, but remember who the buyers are—many of them are more inspired today than they were in the spring. The new buyers in the market are looking at sales price data from June 2016…their spring counterparts were looking at sales price data from June 2015. Guess what happened from June to June? Prices went up. You may not need competition to push price up because the evidence is there to support your asking price….that wasn’t the case 5 months ago.

Put your home on the market when you are ready and be prepared to negotiate with people who know what it’s like to miss out on a great home in their preferred neighborhood.

 

 

 

The Wisconsin Offer to Purchase

I’m not a lawyer but I know lawyers and I know of a Wisconsin Real Estate Lawyer with a blog. James N. Graham is the lawyer, and while I don’t know him I like what he presented on the “As-Is” sales.  Last night I read the  Court of Appeals of Wisconsin Published Opinion James gave a link to. Yup. I read it just before lights out.  If you wonder how a court might interpret failure to disclose provisions of the Offer, you’ll get some insight from Attorney Graham’s work.

The WRA created a fantastic resource for licensees and the public. See the Explanation of  the State of Wisconsin Residential Offer To Purchase.

While I don’t want to discourage you from getting your law degree, staying up on the real estate law can be done by finding legitimate expert lay person’s explanations. These are two worth looking into.

Quiet the Extrovert

To get somebody’s attention, whisper. If that’s true why does society seem to value the extrovert? Susan Cain wrote the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. Read her summary in the September October Realtor Magazine. The link above should take you there. I read this book a few years ago and gave my copy to Gina. She’s a model of all that is great about introversion. Enough said. I could probably end this right here, but while I am more of an introvert, I have some extrovert tendencies so of course I have more to say.

Susan Cain knows introversion “is not seen as a prized trait in our culture…”. Too bad for our culture. Just try getting anything done with nothing but extroverts all around. Can you think of one example where introverts saved the back side of extroverts? Apollo 13 Mission Flight Control comes to my mind.

Lots of praise is given to the extrovert. She’s a leader. He’s a mover and shaker. She participates in class discussion. I say so what. You may appreciate Quiet for insight to help you dialogue with clients, or to lessen the stigma for yourself or someone in your family.  When failure is not an option, the introvert personality is the prized possession.

Wisconsin Real Estate Clauses

Paint by number art has its own exhibit in the Smithsonian. I’m not surprised that people could make art by staying within the lines with the right paint color of paint corresponding with its number on the paper.  Because I could do neither, I suspect patience and careful attention to detail were attributes those who can possess. Of course there is a museum for paint by numbers. When things are done well they’re worth keeping to admire.

Writing effective real estate clauses in our contracts is what we are all  licensed to do. It’s a license to participate even if we never proved we had the talent.  Wisconsin real estate licensees have an outstanding resource to “paint by numbers” when crafting real estate clauses. It’s the Wisconsin Real Estate Clauses book. The UW  Law School and WRA attorneys Debra Conrad, Cori  Lamont, and Tracy Rucka  are the legal minds who wrote the book so we can craft the terms that work.

There is no shortcut for being careful and deliberate. There is no shortcut for knowing what the terms mean. The Wisconsin Real Estate Clause book isn’t a shortcut to a craft. It is a manual of well crafted terms and sentence structure we all can read, analyze, understand, and learn to replicate. For $25.00 members are prudent to have this resource and wise to read and use.

 

 

Find The Good In Every Offer

Every Offer we receive is better than the Offer that was not submitted.  I think I am a logical thinker  when my client receives an Offer to purchase from one person who looks at the house and no Offers from five parties who also looked at the house, the one offer in my hand is better than any of the Offers that were not written.  Regardless of the terms, this Offer is a good thing and here’s why:

  1. There is at least one favorable term in every Offer. The Offer is an invitation to talk about terms.
  2. The Offer the seller will not accept has terms only the seller and buyer will know. Any buyer sitting on the fence will be told “An Offer is in.” What’s more likely to inspire a person to move off center better than anything known to man? The fear of loss.
  3. Zero Offers leave you two Offers short of a competition. One Offer is half way to a seller’s market.

I have a chuckle when listing agents refer to Offers as “low-ball”. That comment is driven by unmet expectations, and  likely some fear of the seller’s displeasure. In the hand of a Realtor with an attitude of abundance,  that unacceptable Offer can be the most important piece of the puzzle for a client to go from here to closing in a hurry. Be grateful for any Offer and let the buying side know you appreciate what they’ve given you.

Let’s End “Now is the best time…”

Google lists 200,000,000 entries under Now is the best time to sell a house. Ten seconds later in six-tenths of a second she gave me 63,300,000 results for Now is the best time to buy a house.   Why are there a quarter of a billion persuasive cases made for this being the best time to sell AND to buy? Probably because millions of people think it is the best time for them to manipulate other people into doing something that benefits the manipulator for sure.  “Now is the best time” is an opinion and it’s cliche. The more it’s used (and it’s used a lot in advertising) the less it resonates. But “Now is the best…” is worse than dull, it’s possibly not true.

We can agree the best and worst of times are subjective. What’s good for me may not be good for you. Sure it’s possible a great number of analytical factors favor a buyer or a seller at any time, but those facts may be secondary to anything that matters more to a decision maker. If I want to keep my family together, even though the facts point to a “seller’s market”, today might be the best time available to me to make a commitment on a house.

How about this, instead of going the easy route of manipulation by spreading fear of loss of opportunity, property, time we let go of “Now is the best…”. Instead, can we let the 263,000,000 other folks trip over themselves trying to control people and we be the voice of reason?  Is this a good time to buy or sell real estate? I don’t know. It depends on you. What’s important to you?