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What if the real estate ball doesn't drop?

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Posted 12-22-2010 at 09:47 PM by Roy Sanborn


By Roy Sanborn, Roche Realty Group

It's coming down to the end of another year, so I started thinking. What do you suppose would happen if Dick Clark was counting down the New Year’s ball in Times Square; “10…9…8…7…6…” and it just stopped? The ball doesn’t drop. The New Year, quite unexpectedly, just doesn’t happen. Do you think people might get a little upset? After all, there are a lot of people down there in the square who are all excited and are getting ready to start the promising New Year. Even if you were to back up a bit, say four or five days or maybe even a week or two, and have something unexpected happen to delay or even cancel the New Year, it could really muck up the works. People have made travel plans, paid for hotel rooms, restaurants have ordered more food and champagne, even the hospitals have geared up for the extra overdoses of celebratory elixirs. You just expect that New Year’s Eve will go off without a hitch.

Well, welcome to the world of real estate in 2010! As REALTORS®, we were taught (or we learned) to “expect the unexpected”. But there are so many totally new unexpected things that come up it is, well, still totally unexpected. There are so many obstacles in a real estate transaction today it is a miracle that the ball ever drops or the deal ever closes. The only thing we can really expect is that, just like if the New Year gets canceled, there are bound to be people that are very upset.


There are two distinct categories of unexpected things. Most are “bad”. Sir Issac Newton’s laws of real estate motion say that any “bad unexpected” event has an equal and opposite “good unexpected” event (he was also big in physics). Unfortunately, with the real estate world’s axis presently off-kilter about fifteen degrees (where “OffKilterAxis” or OFA = normal axis˛/ma X π) we are seeing a preponderance of “bad unexpected” events compared to “good unexpected” events. It is also true that wise old Isacc said, “I can calculate the motion of heavenly bodies, but not the madness of people.”

Here’s a list of just some of the “unexpected bad” events that have stalled, derailed, or killed real estate deals:

1. Your seller accepts a full price offer on his house and then you find out he owes $100,000 more on it than he has it listed for.

2. The home inspection on the five year old home you have listed reveals a failed septic, mold in the attic, and arsenic in the water.


3. The appraisal on what you feel to be a perfectly priced home comes in $30,000 lower and the appraiser can’t find any other comps.

4. Your buyer loses his job thr
ee weeks before the closing date on the house he is buying. No job, no loan.

5. The short sale process is not very “short” and the buyer gets sick of waiting and pulls out of the deal.

6. You have a condo listing that goes under agreement, but the association does not meet new Fannie Mae guidelines so no one will finance the deal.


7. Your seller, who’s had his home on the market for over a year, refuses to accept or even counter the first offer he gets.

8. After three years on the market, you get a near full price offer with a quick closing date and no contingencies and your seller decides he really doesn’t want to sell after all.

As mentioned, there are rarer but “unexpected good” things that can also happen:

1. You get a low, but reasonable, offer on a house that you have had listed for only 7 days! And, the seller accepts it!

2. The buyer you didn’t think had a pot to pee in, actually can buy whatever he wants with cash!

3. The inspection on one of your listings reveals a myriad of problems, but the buyer feels he is getting a good deal and wants to buy it regardless!

4. The appraisal you have been holding your breath on actually comes in at value and the underwriter has no problems with it!

5. Your listing, which is by far the ugliest house in the Lakes Region, actually gets a buyer.



6. After 2 years on the market you get two
offers on the property on the same day.

7. Both the buyers and sellers in the transaction are truly reasonable and nice people and they don’t lose sight of where they want to be (that is in the house and out of the house)

8. After a long and horrendous process with your difficult sellers (or buyers), you make it through the closing, and they thank you for your hard work.

I think the only reason most of us REALTORS® keep doing this is for the unexpected good things that happen. So, may the unexpected good things outweigh the bad in 2011. Let the ball drop! Happy New Year…

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