Fighting Murphy’s Law During Closing

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Four Texas REALTORS® share their experiences fighting Murphy’s Law on the way to closing.


At 5 p.m. on the last day of the month, after a six-month ordeal, Anna Lee Trinidad finally heard the three words she thought might never be uttered: “closed and funded.”

In the half year it took Trinidad’s buyer clients to finally close on their new home, the couple faced numerous hurdles related to their purchase, got married, and spent several hectic weeks with their two children in a one-room hotel room while juggling jobs and the start of a new school year.

“They were beyond stressed,” says Trinidad, an agent with Showcase Properties of Texas, in Houston.

Keeping the communication going

In March, Trinidad’s clients applied to finance the construction of a new home to be completed in the summer. But the buyers were rejected three days before closing because of issues with a checking account. Closing was extended, their file was sent to a new loan officer, and they received approval to close in September.

Then, an error on the FHA paperwork sent their file back to the bottom of the stack. Closing was extended again to September 30 while the buyers worked to resolve the problems, and on September 24 they received the authorization to close—for real this time.

Trinidad’s clients gave the lender written permission to contact her directly with any questions, a move that saved them additional headaches and time delays.

“I was constantly checking with the loan officer, loan processor, and builder’s representative for daily updates and document requests, and communicating that to my buyer. This helped because they could contact me any time—during work hours, in the evening, on weekends— when they may not have been able to reach the buyers.”

Trinidad’s advice for alleviating clients’ stress: give them regular updates, even if there is nothing new to report.

“If the buyers don’t know what’s going on, they panic. Silence is not golden in real estate. You have got to communicate.”

Working through a long short sale

Patrick Kernan, a broker in Coppell, had a listing that took him 18 months to sell and seemed to hit every snag along the way.

What began as a standard resale transaction turned into a short sale involving two lien holders and an indifferent seller.
 The first contract fell through, and a second contract terminated when they discovered the home needed extensive foundation repair.

Kernan took a shot in the dark and contacted the builder about the foundation issue. It paid off. The builder’s 10-year warranty for structural defects was still in effect for the nine-and-a-half-year-old home.

The leveling work was completed, and along came new buyers. The lender denied a short sale for the primary contract and denied a backup contract, but approved a third offer.

Then winter came, along with a surprise call from the property’s neighbor to inform Kernan that water was running out of the garage. The combination of a vacant home with no heat and below-freezing temperatures caused water pipes above the kitchen to burst, ruining the kitchen ceiling and the entire first floor.

The homeowners insurance had lapsed, but Kernan learned that the lender had insurance on the property, and a few phone calls later, the repair work was covered with the eventual buyer agreeing to pay the deductible.

In the end, Kernan’s client was happy to have received five option-fee checks and a short sale in lieu of foreclosure.

“You just never know how a deal will go,” he says. “Selling real estate takes persistence. Creativity is helpful, but persistence is number one.”

Not stopping at dead ends

Jeanette Wright, an agent with Coldwell Banker United, REALTORS®, in Georgetown, says a deal she closed earlier this year only happened because both sides made sacrifices.

A lender preapproved Wright’s buyer client for VA financing, so they found a house he loved and went under contract. Then, bad news: The buyer was actually two days short of the minimum active-duty service requirement to qualify for VA financing.

At risk of losing the property to another buyer, Wright immediately explained the situation to the listing agent and set to work helping her client pursue other financing options.

“At first he didn’t qualify for FHA, but in the time it took to review his file, his credit score increased and he was approved,” she says.

In the end, the sellers stuck with her client through 11 contract extensions, the listing agent agreed to pay for
 a home warranty, and Wright agreed to pay for a second inspection so they could make the deal happen.

“It was a win for everyone. And when we hit a dead end, we would just turn around and go another way.”

The above post was previously published in the November 2015 issue of Texas REALTOR®.


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