You thought everything was perfect - the buyers were absolutely in love with the property, the sellers were thrilled with the offer, everyone seemed to be in complete agreement and you thought you were on the way to a speedy, low stress closing. Until all of a sudden, the bottom drops out, and you start receiving frantic calls from your buyers, the sellers, their agents, the bank....you name it, it seems like they've found your phone number and need you RIGHT NOW. Here is a list I've put together of the top reasons closings can fall apart, and how best to minimize the chances of this happening to you!
1. Buyer's finances! Many people don't realize that even a small change in their credit rating between the pre-approval and the closing can make a huge difference. A friend of mine recently decided to purchase a home, and to save money, she chose to put off her final utility bill payments, and just catch up after her big move. Little did she realize, her attempt at pinching pennies wound up costing her her dream home! She was already right on the borderline to get approved, and those 2 or 3 late payments pushed her right over the line into the ineligible category. Make sure that your buyers are aware of these pitfalls, and advise them not to do anything in the months leading up to a closing that could potentially damage or change their credit score. This is not the time to start hunting for a new car, add additional loans, quit a job, or skip a couple of bill payments!
2. Low Appraisals! How frustrating is it when everything is going smoothly, and then the home appraiser says it's worth considerably less than the asking price? If the buyer doesn't have the money to cover the difference, and the seller isn't willing to negotiate, the deal is toast. Most times, the seller won't want to lose the contract over just a few thousand dollars either way, but we all know that some people just refuse to budge. If you truly feel the appraiser was really low-baling the numbers, remember that you can always get a second opinion!
3. Home Inspection Issues!! Oh, the dreaded home inspection can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, some buyers may see a small issue as no big deal - they'll simply negotiate around it and go about their day, happy to know what they're getting in to and ready to press forward. Other buyers may see the same issue and completely come unglued. After the months of stress searching for, and finally finding their perfect home, they've been told that there is a problem that is going to cost money up front to fix. Both reactions are valid and understandable! Be supportive of your customer, and let them know that small fixes are to be expected, and don't have to be a deal-breaker. If the inspector says the roof is on it's last legs, let your buyer know you'll do everything you can to negotiate a lower price, or have a roof replacement included in the contract. Remind the customer that the inspections are done to make sure that they are completely aware of what they're purchasing, and that regardless of the results, their best interests are being accounted for by both you as their agent, and the property inspector.
4. Cold feet! Purchasing a home is a huge deal, and can be both emotionally and financially draining to everyone involved. It's not uncommon for people to fall completely head over heels for a piece of property, only to become more hesitant the closer they come to the closing date. The buyers may wonder if the home is REALLY as great as they thought it was during that open house they attended, and if they made the right decision in selecting THIS one to make the offer on. Sellers may wonder if they're getting the most out of the deal, or if they should've held out for a higher offer, or even if they should move at all. Unfortunately, there's not that much that an agent can do in these particular situations besides try to talk your client off the ledge. Remind your buyer of all the wonderful things they said about the home and how excited they were to sign that first offer! Refresh the seller's memory with regards to why they told you they were ready to move on - it may be comfortable to stay in the home they've owned for years, but how great would it be to finally be closer to the family they miss so much?
Remember that our job is to be the advocate for the customer, regardless of which end of the deal we're working. Snags are going to come up in nearly every transaction, so we need to be sure that we communicate well, and advise our clients in advance that these things can and do happen; and most of all, that we're trained to solve these issues to everyone's satisfaction!! It may take some verbal acrobatics, but I firmly believe that there are very few situations in which a sale can't be salvaged!