Wednesday, March 22, 2017

What if the seller leaves a mess?

This is part two (of two) on how clean a house should be when the buyers take possession.

It can happen that a seller leaves a house an absolute mess; trash and debris, old paint and chemicals in the basement or garage, rubbish in the yard, old food in the fridge, and so on.  This is NOT how it should be.  Every once in awhile, in a competitive situation, and if the buyer is planning to have a bunch of work done before moving in, a buyer will stipulate in an offer, that the seller may take what they want and leave the rest.  This is an exception.

While some offers contain the provision for a walk through of the property prior to closing, our standard sale agreement does not provide for this, and the closing is not subject to the buyer's satisfaction with the property before closing.  AND, the  seller wouldn't yet have vacated the property, so a buyer walk through wouldn't show the what the property would look like after closing.

So, what remedies are available to the buyer?  If the seller merely ran out of time, the buyer might agree to get the house a day or so late; giving the seller time to clean it up. The seller must be a willing participant in this scenario.

Sometimes the buyer's and seller's agents will combine forces to deal with the situation themselves, or one or the other of them will deal with it.  This is the glamorous side of real estate; you know, hauling some one else's rubbish up from a creepy basement, or cleaning spoiled food from a refrigerator.

Often, in these cases, the seller is not a willing participant.  The buyer may be stuck dealing with it themselves, and would use the dispute resolution systems to recoup their cost. This most often would be a small claims court procedure; no lawyers and pretty quick.

Having a seller leave the property in less than good condition is not how  we, as agents, want the transaction to end; leaving a sour taste for everyone.  We set expectations early, and offer a variety of resources to help a seller vacate on time and properly.  We're also realistic with buyers, and encourage all buyers to give themselves at least a few days between occupying their new home and vacating their previous abode.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Those market stats

RMLS released the February numbers this week, and they look a bit mixed.   By mixed, I mean, busy, but not the craziest we've been.

I tend to put to most stock in looking back to the same month of the previous year,  as this helps normalize for seasonal slowing and surging.

So, when compared to February 2016, our pending sales are down 15%.  That is significant.  And closed sales are down 7.9%.  It's taking 45-60 days in escrow to get a sale closed, on average, so maybe some of that slowing can be attributed to the January snowpocalypse.

We're at 1.9 months of inventory in February. Meaning, at our current rate of sales, it would take us 1.9 months to sell everything currently on the market.  February 2016 was 1.8 months, a barely discernible difference.

In looking at the percentage change in the 12 month median sales price, compared with the previous 12 month period, we see a median sale price of $350,000 as compared to $310,000.  This early in the year, I prefer the rolling 12 month numbers as year to date calculations don't have  much meaning.

And lastly, our market time is a tad longer 62 days for sales closing in February 2017, as compared to 60 days on the market, for sales closing in February 2016.

Out in the market, it feels kind of like those numbers show.  We're still busy.  Buyers are out in force, and making aggressive offers.  But it doesn't feel crazy, for which I am thankful.  Perhaps we're all learning how to be in this kind of market.  Maybe listing agents have learned how best to communicate with regard to offer review timelines, and maybe buyers, and their agents are accustomed to offer deadlines, multiple offers and needing to offer highest and best offers?

Whatever the case, I welcome this feeling of sanity, while being busy.

See the full RMLS report.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

How clean?

After all the flurry of buying and/or selling a house, as closing and moving nears, I am often asked, how clean the house should or will be.

In the early stages of a real estate transaction, we negotiate both the close date, and the possession date; that is when the sellers must be out of the home and the buyers are entitled to the keys and possession of the property.

Even super organized people, with the best of intentions, can come up short on time at the end.  And often what "gives" is condition in which the house is left.

The sale agreement is pretty silent on this, saying only," Seller shall remove all personal property (including trash and debris) that is not a part of this transaction, and deliver possession of the property to the Buyer...".So this basically says all the "stuff" needs to be gone.  From this, we have gotten to the "standard" that a property should be "broom clean".  That is, the seller need not have done, or hired, a deep cleaning, but the place should be swept up and empty.

The reality, is the condition in which properties are left varies greatly.  Some sellers take great pride leaving their property sparkling and clean for the new buyers; either hiring professional cleaners or doing a spiffy job themselves.  Many sellers do a fine job of removing all the "stuff" and doing a quick wipe down of surfaces.  And, as you might imagine, some sellers leave all sorts of messes.

While you might generalize about pricier properties being left in better condition, you'd be wrong.  Time pressed and inconsiderate sellers are found across all price ranges.

And whether we are representing buyer or seller, we try to set the expectations of how a property should be left.  But moving is hard, and the cleaning comes at the very end.  Sometimes buyers are greeted with a mess, and given the option of taking the property as is, or waiting a day or so to give the seller a chance to clear it out.  And sometimes real estate agents, representing buyer or seller, will pitch in to make sure a property is at least broom clean.

My advice, whether you are a buyer or a seller, is to allow more time for cleaning and moving (in or out) than you think you'll need.

See Part 2 next week for information on the remedies available to the buyer.