I find that when I talk to a client initially, they’ll give me the address of the house they’re buying or selling, so I go online and look at the photographs and point the client to potential problems I see and offer to check them out.
For example, I’ll see a finished basement listed, so if I see an exterior door to what looks to be a finished basement, that might mean the improvement is legal, but if I don’t see one, I will have my title examiner search to see if a certificate of completion for the finished basement. I have been doing this so long, I just know what to look for in most cases.
I think examining online photographs of the property is an important part of the process that most attorneys don’t do; they don’t take the time to get to know the client and what motivates them; they don’t ask about their current living situation, such as whether or not they are in the middle of a lease, which could potentially create a problem too. For example, if their lease is up on July 15, it’s something that we need to talk about, whether we’re talking about the process of terminating the lease or getting the landlord to break it; they have to be ready to move into their new home.
What Can You Do to Facilitate a Transaction in the Event of a Delay?
The biggest issue is communication, and from a client’s point of view, setting reasonable expectations from the very beginning of the transaction is the most important thing. As a practitioner, I like to manage expectations; I tell clients everything they need to know at the very beginning, including discussing the target date, and why it’s not set in stone and they should not use that date to terminate their lease, hire movers and contractors for that date. Another important expectation management tool is that most banks give a 60-day rate lock for free, which means they can’t raise the rate if you want to wait that long for the lease to run out or for the kids to finish school or things like that.
That said, if you have a situation where you have motivated buyers going to contract in February with May and June closing dates, I advise them that they may have a May or June closing date but they probably won’t close until the end of June. I also ask the sellers attorney is the Sellers have school-age children if so I will generally advise my client that they probably won’t close until after July 1, because parents don’t want to disrupt their children’s lives that way. A lot of what I do is just personality management and dealing with human nature.
For instance, clients often have unrealistic expectations as to the condition of the home; I generally find that, if you’re dealing with a seller and you go into their home and everything is perfect, the house is clean, everything’s in place, generally those deals are smooth. I can tell, just based on the sellers I’ve represented, whether the deal will be a problem, either by personality or if they come into the first meeting carrying a folder with every single piece of paper they’ve had since they’d bought the house, I know we won’t have a problem here.
I ask my buyers how the house is, and if everything is in its place, and that tells me the seller probably has a C/O for everything’s going to be fixed, and the homeowner takes pride in ownership. When I talk to clients or I see an engineer’s inspection, when I go online to look at pictures that are now online and I see a house that’s a little beaten up and cluttered, that tells me there may be problems. There are certain things you can see, and I try to advise clients accordingly
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