Chris Griffith: Cold feet and buyers remorse

CHRIS GRIFFITH

Buyer’s remorse is a sneaky little thing that creeps its way into the hearts and heads of home buyers when nobody’s looking. Somewhere between, “Heck yeah, we’re buying a house” and the settlement date, something happens and the tides turn.

In a market peppered with short sales, it’s a common occurrence. A lot of the time it’s that waiting. The wait for the bureaucracy of the seller’s debt forgiveness by their lender is like waiting at the DMV, only it’s months of praying for your number to be called, not hours of it.

If idle hands are the devil’s playground, then idle buyers … well, I don’t know a great analogy for idle buyers. What I do know is that idle buyers can let their thoughts and fears get the best them. They can talk themselves out of the best deals or talk themselves into other deals because they’re worried that there could be greener grass somewhere else. Sometimes, it actually is.

So, somewhere between, “Heck yeah, we’re buying a house” and settlement date, the heavy revelation of commitment and hand wringing begin.

The buyer’s cousin Russell tells them all about something awful that happened to his neighbor’s doctor’s ex-husband when he bought real estate in Orlando or they heard about entire condo complexes in Miami going into receivership and the party is over. The buyers go run-away-bride regardless of how irrelevant Orlando and Miami markets are to Southwest Florida.

Putting aside job loss and financing issues, here’s the deal with short sales and the buyers who get cold feet. Both foreclosures and short sales are usually purchased “as-is” with the right to inspect. In a nutshell that means that Mr. Buyer contracts to purchase the home for $X and has the opportunity to perform a home inspection. If he is not satisfied with the inspection results, he may cancel the contract.

It doesn’t matter if there is a massive roof leak or simply a broken doorknob. “Satisfactory home inspection” is at the buyer’s discretion. Performed within the time frames stipulated, it’s the way out of most as-is contracts.

Watching buyers with cold feet orchestrate reasons to get out of a contract is a bonus to being the listing agent. Elaborate tales are spun and there is almost as much excuse making and blame shifting as the BP oil brawl.

The street address of the house adds up to 5 and that’s my unlucky number was one of the more creative excuses. The numbers added up to five before the buyers signed the contract, too. Unfortunately, unlucky numbers aren’t considered a defect or covered in the as-is contract.

How about, we’re cancelling because we couldn’t get in to the house on Saturday to see it one more time.

Really? There was no subterfuge. Maybe Saturday really, truly wasn’t convenient because the sellers really were actually moving and there really was too much going on to appease the buyers indulgences on a cookie cutter home where the only difference between the home and the one next door is a built-in wall unit.

All that belly aching and defensive reasoning aren’t necessary when in the end and all most troubled buyers have to do is be accountable, drop a couple hundred bucks on a home inspection and leverage the as-is inspection clause when it’s decided that they couldn’t possibly bring themselves to repair a drippy kitchen faucet.

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Chris Griffith is a real estate agent at Downing-Frye Realty Inc. in Bonita Springs. If you have a question about local real estate or Bonita Springs, e-mail her at chris@LifeInBonitaSprings.com.

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