(Alternate Title: Why I Have to Wear a Night Guard to Keep From Grinding My Teeth in My Sleep)
1. I haven’t been prequalified for a mortgage yet, but I’m sure I’ll be fine. Let’s see these 36 houses and then if I see anything I like I’ll call a lender.
In the real estate biz, we like to call this a Noob Trap because only a brand new agent would be dumb (and desperate) enough to put someone in his car and drive him around for several days looking at property without having any idea if he could actually purchase the house (ok, I just totally made the name up. No one calls it that. But it should have a name). For starters, if we assume the buyer does know what he is talking about, isn’t a liar-looky-loo and can qualify for the purchase price range in which he wants to look; what if he does find that dream house and needs to write an offer immediately to secure the property? Lenders (unlike Realtors) often have these things called ‘lives’ that involve attending family activities on evenings, weekends and holidays, instead of sitting in their office, perched on the edge of their seats waiting to input a buyer’s financial information at a moment’s notice to generate the Loan Status Report that must accompany a purchase contract. Point being: if you’re not ready to write an offer, you’re not ready to go house shopping.
2. Where are the ‘good’ areas? (Or, inversely, but equally problematic: tell me where we don’t want to live.)
This one is painful for two reasons: #1, it’s almost impossible to answer this question without it being a Fair Housing violation, unless we’re talking specifically about landscaping, and that’s almost never what people want to know. They want to know which area has less crime, or a higher per/capita income or more families or fewer kids or whatever their personal bias dictates. And that leads us to #2, it’s a completely subjective question that is going to mean something different to every person. Generally the people who ask me this are job transfers into the Phoenix area who I’ve just met. I have no idea what a ‘good neighborhood’ would mean to them. I love where I live in North East Mesa, but I know tons of people who would rather throw themselves into oncoming traffic than reside in Mesa.
3. No docs yet.
This one comes from the title company, every 10 minutes for 3 days before a closing. The title company won’t set an appointment to have a buyer come in and sign the closing documents until the package has been received by the lender, even if the lender says, ‘you’ll have it in half an hour’ and the agent just wants to get the buyer in to sign in the next two days. The buyer wants a specific date and time she can plan her work schedule around and the title rep knows that the lender is a liar. They won’t have the package to title until they do and the signing appointment will just have to be moved. So we all do the pee-pee dance and call each other every 10 minutes until the docs are actually in title’s Inbox. Until that moment, it’s: No docs yet.
4. The loan was denied in underwriting. And I’m boarding a plane to Alaska right now, so I can’t help you.
This one came from the lender on my second deal ever. We were set to close that day, and of course I was in San Diego with my family, at Sea World, standing outside of the Shamu Show when I got that call. He hung up on me, I burst into tears and spent the rest of the day on the phone pushing the baby stroller around the park while my husband and our older son enjoyed the exhibits. I did eventually find another lender and close that deal, a week late, but I still have post-traumatic stress triggered by killer whales (even before they were eating people in public).
5. Maybe I’ll just rent instead. Can you help me find a rental?
*SIGH* Yes, I can find you a rental if you really want. I will make about 1/20th the commission on it, it’s a giant pain in the butt and I’ve already showed you 88 houses to BUY, but I will. Because I love you. Now give your Realtor a big hug to make her feel better. That’s right.
6. This property requires 48 hours notice to show.
Properties that require this kind of notice to show are totally counter-intuitive. I never set up showings more than the night before (and usually I do it the morning of) because real estate moves fast. If I set up all of my showings Monday for a client who wants to see them Wednesday afternoon, what if Tuesday 3 of the houses get offers and are taken off the market? Or what if 5 new houses come on the market Monday night after I’m finished setting them up? Then everything will have to be reordered and all of the home owners will have to be called to shift times. A Realtor learns quickly that the morning of is the best time to plan all of this out. Then you throw into the mix a house with a finicky seller who needs DAYS to get everything ready and you’re totally screwed. And of course, this will be the house the buyer really has her heart set on seeing.
7. My dad (mom, brother, uncle, cousin who’s a Realtor in Kentucky) says…
Please don’t make me debate someone who isn’t here. That’s an argument I’m not going to win. Also? You’re being passive-aggressive.
8. Where do all the black people live?
Swear to Zeus, I had an out-of-town transfer ask me this after a full day of looking at houses in Chandler/Gilbert. He was also black and from Atlanta. I think he was kind of kidding.
9. I’m out of town, but my sister lives in Phoenix, can you show her the house?
Yes, of course, I’m happy to show your sister the house, but I can guarantee you will still need to see it yourself. Your sister is going to love the corian counters in the kitchen and you’re going to think they’re tacky and that she never had any taste. Or she will think the house won’t work for you because you’ll definitely want a big bathtub in the master and this doesn’t have one. And you’ll say to her, ‘Sharon, I haven’t taken a bath since I was 8, what the hell are you talking about?’ and then you’ll get into a big fight about how when you were in high school you would be in the bathroom for hours ‘taking a bath’ and she just KNEW you had really climbed out the little window over the tub and were out with that boy, Kurt, Mom and Dad hated! So if you would like to avoid all of that, just come see the house for yourself.
10. Is your commission negotiable?
Yes. But then so is the amount of time, money and effort I will be putting into making your house sell.