Posts Tagged ‘Inspections’

posted by on Especially for Rookies

A few days ago, I posted a blog about the importance of actually ATTENDING your inspections with a buyer client. I was stunned when I purchased my first out-of-town home and my Realtor did not attend the inspection, especially since I couldn’t be there. My respect and appreciation for him took a huge hit and I never referred anyone to him.

Anyway, in my twelve years of selling real estate in historic neighborhoods, I’ve gotten pretty darn good at holding my hard-fought deals together through the sometimes brutal inspection periods. When you work with 100+ year old homes most of the time, it’s rare to sail smoothly through the inspection process. So, you get good at it, or you fail. I once had a string of 25 sales get through inspection and to closing without falling apart which must be some sort of record in this market!

So, here are some of my secrets to surviving inspections…

  • ATTEND your inspections (see yesterday’s blog)
  • Never, ever belittle your buyer’s concerns. Never say “Well, it’s an old house, you can’t expect it to be perfect.” Your buyer isn’t an idiot, he knows that. The minute he thinks you’re trying to talk him out of being concerned about an issue, he’ll feel you’re more interested in your paycheck than in his purchase. You’ll lose his trust, and thus, his future referrals.
  • Take your directory of contractors with you to the inspection. If issues arise, it’s helpful to have phone numbers on hand to make phone calls on the spot for answers. For example, in one of my inspections last week, we came across an asbestos tile roof (in 12 years I’ve never heard of such a thing). The inspector expressed serious concern about it and my buyers were freaked out. I was able to call my roofer and get more information about asbestos roofs which put everyone’s mind at ease… and the inspection continued. I also had the phone number of my insurance agent with me, so we were able to call him to ensure that an asbestos roof was insurable (it is).
  • If you don’t have a handyman on call, make this your top priority. You MUST have a great handyman in your back pocket to be a great real estate agent. I often call my handyman during inspections with a question and he’s been known to even drop everything and rush over to check it out… thus putting my buyer’s mind at ease or at least making me look fantastic.
  • If an inspection goes poorly, let your buyers sleep on it. Inspections can be exhausting, but after a good night’s sleep, your buyers may feel much better.
  • When preparing an inspection notice for the seller, never, ever use inflammatory language. Just state your requests clearly and succinctly, without embellishment.  For example, instead of saying “Seller shall repair the leak under the kitchen sink to avoid further mold and mildew damage to the cabinet, flooring and possibly the basement ceiling.” Simply say, “Seller shall repair the leak under the kitchen sink.”
  • Keep your inspection requests to as few bullet points as possible. Group your requests into categories; for example, all plumbing issues go under one bullet, all electrical items under one bullet.

It can’t be emphasized enough… always support your buyer, not your paycheck, no matter how badly you need that paycheck. Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes and advise accordingly. The brownie points you win by truly being on his side will pay off big time for you; not only in this transaction, but for years to come when he tells everyone he knows what a great Realtor you are.

Go get ’em!

posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

I like to negotiate. I think it’s great fun, especially when everyone comes out of the deal thinking they “won.” Of course, that’s not always possible, but it’s an added bonus when it happens.

Anyway, here are a few negotiating tips from Jennifer’s negotiateSoulful Toolbox…

1.       Never, ever call the buyer’s agent and ask how the inspection went. Let him come to you.

2.       Never, ever call the buyer’s agent ON THE DAY OF LOAN APPROVAL and ask if the buyer, indeed, has loan approval. Call the next day. (Know why?)

3.       When negotiations get hot and heavy… withdraw. Dead silence from your end. Let the other side wonder if they blew it with you. Overnight.

4.       When negotiating, try not to make the other side feel bullied or cornered. Build in a slight “putz” factor when you can to give the opposite team a way to accept without losing face. For example, if your buyer asks for a $2000 credit for repairs and the seller counters with an unacceptable $1000 credit, go back at $1,800 instead of standing firm at $2,000.

5.       Always remember that the other side, whether buyer or a seller, feels vulnerable as well, regardless of their stance during the negotiations.

6.       You can always say NO. In fact, the other side probably fully expects you to.  If they want to buy or sell, your saying NO won’t kill the deal. And sometimes, bending over backwards to make a deal go thru can actually do more damage than simply saying NO.

7.       Almost everyone likes to negotiate, regardless of any claims to the contrary. As a buyer agent, do not submit offers with the statement “This is our highest and best – take it or leave it.” It won’t work. If you’re the listing agent, always find something in an offer to counter. Both sides want and need to feel the thrill of a successful negotiation.


posted by on Random (Un)Common Sense

Been watching a conversation elsewhere on the web about whether or not to put buyers in your car… as opposed to driving separately. While some of the comments are ridiculously snotty (“They can drive themselves!” or “Let THEM use their own gas!”), the most sincere objection seems to be that putting another warm body in your car creates liability for you.

We hear similar objections all the time to doing things that serve our clients. DON’T attend inspections! DON’T recommend mortgage brokers! Don’t give any advice that might be construed as legal! Don’t put buyers in your car! Blah blah blah.

Basically, in order to CYA to the best of your ability, you should, as one instructor put it – “stand outside and smoke” during most phases of a real estate transaction. To avoid liability, y’know.

Well, shoot, I don’t buy it. My buyers and sellers pay me darn good money to be intimately involved with every facet of their real estate transaction. And I show up. Yes, to inspections. I get on the roof and join the party in the crawlspace. If I don’t know three good inspectors, I recommend only the one or two I like. I write my own addendums that probably border on practicing law. And yes, I put buyers in my car.*

It’s my job. And in my 13 years of doing my job, I can honestly say I’ve been richly rewarded for doing my job and only threatened legally once. By doing my job, I serve my clients, which not only leads to happy clients, but more paychecks for ME ‘cause my deals close!

I know what I’m doing. And I shall do it. Even if I risk being sued. This is a liability-ridden business. If you cain’t take that heat… go find another kitchen to play in.


*Here’s my opinion on putting buyers in my car:
In 13 years, I can count on one hand (okay, maybe two) the number of times I’ve ridden separately from my buyers. I usually drive, but if my buyer has a car-seat issue, I’ll ride with them. The only times I’ve had a buyer follow me is if we’re meeting at the house and only looking at a few others – then it just seems to make sense.

The time spent driving between houses is great bonding, rapport-building and information-gathering time. I can’t imagine not having that time with my buyers as we’re getting to know each other and figuring out what they want in a house. It also gives me the opportunity to demonstrate my expertise in the area and for them to ask questions which, assuming I can answer (!), builds my credibility.

I’ve shopped for houses in other markets and the agents always drove. I’m trying to imagine them leaving me in my rental car to follow them in an unfamiliar town… and I’m pretty sure I would think they were rude, antisocial, lazy or ashamed of their car. I certainly wouldn’t think MORE of them if they made me drive myself.

That said, if I didn’t feel safe with someone, I probably wouldn’t want them in my car, but neither would I be working with them.

** Nothing written here should be construed as legal advice <grin>

posted by on Especially for Rookies

One of the very first things I advise rookie agents to do – well, at least in their first few months – is to find a handyman. A good handyman will save your backside and your commission over and over again and make you look good. I don’t know how any real estate agent functions without a handyman on call. Find him, give him work, make sure he’s paid promptly. Bob is my handyman and he’s saved more of my deals than I can count.bob

How can a handyman help you look more experienced? Well, just the knowledge that you have someone on your team who can take care of home repairs for your buyer or seller gives you a Can-Do attitude. For example, when I work with buyers who are nervous about all the little maintenance items their inspector points out, I sweetly tell them “We’ll just put that on the Bob-List” so they know they won’t have to go to the yellow pages. When your sellers get a laundry list of repairs after the inspection, I comfort them by explaining that we’ll have Bob come over and give us an estimate (today). When I’m helping a seller get ready for market, I look like the hero when I bring Bob in to get done in a day what would take the seller a month to do… and usually for under $1000 (less than a mortgage payment!)

How do you find a handyman? Put up your antenna! Ask other agents in the office. Send out an email to your Sphere of Influence. Call some property management companies. If you know anyone in construction, ask them. Ask at Home Depot. When you get a few names, give ‘em a test drive in your own home.


posted by on Working with Buyers

I just got through two tough inspections… Welcome BACK to Charming Old Denver real estate!

I’ve always worked in historic neighborhoods, so the ability to negotiate inspections has been a critical part of my success. And yeah, I’ve gotten good at it. If you’re interested, I’ll share some of my secrets with you…

First, ATTEND YOUR INSPECTIONS! I can’t believe how many agents don’t and I think that’s abysmal customer service. Yeah, I know the attorney-types tell you to avoid inspections like the plague, just in case you get sued as a result of being there, but to that, I say… baloney! I’d much rather take the chance of maybe getting sued (and in 12 years it’s never happened to me) than risk losing the loyalty of my buyer client by not being there (and remember, he’s the gatekeeper to all his potential home-buying friends).

Here’s why I think it’s important to attend:

  1. It’s hard to negotiate repairs found during inspection that you didn’t see firsthand.
  2. Your buyer expects you to be there and your credibility will take a hit if you don’t attend.
  3. It’s good customer service.
  4. When you’re new, inspections are an excellent opportunity to further your real estate education.
  5. You need to be able to recommend good inspectors to your buyers and if you don’t attend inspections, how can you judge?

Second… well, I’ll save the rest for tomorrow. Stay tuned!