– This post is for those actively engaged in the search for their next home –
You’re looking and looking at houses, and maybe you’ve made an offer that wasn’t accepted for whatever reason. Maybe you are currently in contract.
Here are a few tips to remember to keep you sane:
1. Emotions Run High: House-buying and house-selling are stressful experiences. And stress can cause the folks to act in ways they otherwise would not. When the buying and the selling is over, things will go back to normal. In the mean time, it is important to remember that, while engaged in the process of buying or selling your home, the process itself is extraordinary and may cause you, and the other party, to feel elevated levels of stress. In other words, this is not how folks normally act. Expect stress-induced reactions. It will all be okay.
2. Depend on your Agent: Let’s pretend you are the Buyers: chances are good you don’t know the Sellers and you don’t know the listing agent. You will be depending on your agent to relay all communications between you and the Sellers, and to give you the ‘temperature’ of how negotiations are going. When you send paperwork off to your agent, to send to the Listing agent, that then goes off to the other party, the transaction will feel a little out-of-your-control. It is normal to feel this way. And it is normal to be very uncomfortable with this feeling.
You’ll ask your agent how things are going. It is her/his job to find the answer to that question for you. AND it is your agent’s job to refrain from sullying the process by communicating to you that the other party is being uncooperative, that the other agent isn’t doing a good job, etc. In reality, we cannot possibly know what is happening on the other side. That said, the most respectful position to take is that they have a lot going on that we do not know about, and that all parties (people) involved in the transaction are doing their very best. Always, always assume that and you will feel better about the transaction in its entirety. It’s a great big adventure and everyone is in it together.
3. Smooth Going: Agents have an ethical duty to do everything (legally) in their power to keep communication between the parties on good terms. I know a few agents who do not particularly care for one another personally, but who work beautifully together when it comes to their clients’ interests. That is good business and it is precisely what clients should expect from their agents in any real estate transaction. Agents ‘dissing’ other agents is a no-no for so many reasons, most important of which is that we run into each other over and over again in the course of business. In an effort to do all we can do for our clients, to the highest measure of quality, it is in everyone’s interest that we keep things on good terms.
4. Trust your gut but do ALL your inspections: If you are buying a house in Portland Oregon, chances are good that it has some history. The following inspections can save you a lot of money, and heartache, in the long run. Some may even save your life:
Home inspection: A good inspector will go over everything a new homeowner needs to know with the Buyer. It costs between $400-$500 for smaller homes, and more for larger homes and homes that have in ground pools and spas, but it will be the best money you spend. The inspector will go over the basic construction of the house, the mechanical and plumbing systems, some basic electrical, and give you a good description of the overall condition of the house.
Sewer lateral inspection: These cost around $100. Have that sewer connection to the street scoped, inspected, videotaped. The sewer connections of old were porous clay pipe. Later, they installed concrete pipe that was still porous. Portlanders love their trees and the City of Portland is pretty attached to them too. When trees are planted on top, or very near, porous sewer pipe you can imagine the good time they have when their roots detect a ready source of water and ‘fertilizer.’ The result is root intrusion (into the pipe) and often offset or just plain crushed sewer connections that may cause sewage to back up into the basement. And, according to the City of Portland, if the tree isn’t sick, it cannot be removed to make a repair. The replacement of a sewer connection, from house to street, is very expensive – in the thousands. I have had to pay for two, in previous houses. One replacement was over $7,000.
Radon test: Planning to finish that basement? Get a radon test. It costs around $200. Radon is a vapor that is a byproduct that results from the degradation of specific organic materials in the earth. With all the rain we get, it is easy to understand there is a lot of degradation going on. I had a client recently who asked me if the test was really necessary and who thought it might a waste of his money. When the results came back, the importance of that test was clear to him. He is very happy he had it done.
Oil Tanks: Even if the oil tank is no longer in use, get this test performed. This test costs around $200, maybe a little less. A leaking oil tank is considered an environmental hazard that the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) takes very seriously. I once bought a house (in Portland’s Hawthorne District) that had been converted to natural gas long ago. It had a decommissioned oil tank in the back yard. The Sellers had a certificate showing the tank had indeed been decommissioned and we considered it good and didn’t have it tested when we bought the house. When we went to sell the house almost 7 years later, however, the Buyers had the soil around the tank tested and the earth around the tank was contaminated above allowable limits. We had to pay to re-decommission an oil tank we never used! It was very frustrating and cost more money that we were prepared to pay. Oil tanks have a high level of liability associated with them. It is better to be safe than sorry and the best way to achieve that, is to have it tested – in use or not.
If a problem is discovered during the home inspection, bring in an expert. If a problem with the roof is discovered, bring in a roofing expert to tell you how much it will cost to have the problem fixed. If a faulty electrical panel is pointed out, bring in an electrician to tell you how much the problem will cost to fix. I have used several of these experts and most provide estimates free of charge.
This all sounds like so much business, doesn’t it? Almost clinical. I am supposed to tell my clients that when they are buying or selling a house, that it isn’t personal. It is business. Well, I need to modify that a little.
It is personal because they are buying or selling a home. True. It isn’t personal between the Buyers and the Sellers. There is no spat between them. The negotiation itself is not personal. However, it is personal to each party, as individuals who have emotional stakes in the property.
So, I rephrase: it is personal, for you. And it is personal, for them. And because it is so personal, it is my job to make sure I do the best job I can to provide you, and the other party, with the most respectful process possible.
Want to talk houses? Give me a call! (971) 258-5500 or an email at www.amymunsey.com