Once you have a buyer for your home, the hard part is over. Or is it? The contract is signed, escrow has been opened, and the earnest money has been deposited, but there are still countless potential snags that could arise.
It’s easy to slip into a feeling of contentment once you are in escrow. But if you want to insure that your home sale goes through without delays, or worse, cancellations, make sure to avoid making any of these mistakes.
1. Failing to Respect Contingency Agreements
Sometimes the purchase of your home is contingent on certain actions you have agreed to take. Perhaps you promised to move out by a certain date, or maybe you have agreed to make certain repairs at the buyer’s request.
If you have agreed to do something, then you need to follow through. Patch-job or half-ass repairs can be legitimate grounds for the buyer to cancel the transaction, regardless of how long you have been in escrow.
2. Not Fixing Things That Break
Throughout escrow, you need to maintain the property. Trust me, any surprises arising during the buyer’s final walkthrough on the closing date will cause nothing but headaches for everyone.
The home needs to be delivered in the same condition it was in when the offer was made. If a window breaks or an AC unit starts failing, these need to be fixed by a professional before the close of escrow.
3. Missing Your Deadlines
Deadlines are very important in Real Estate, whether it’s signing disclosures, making repairs, or getting contingencies removed. I know a lot of agents tend to be “relaxed” about deadlines, and honestly, I think that’s terrible. If the buyer and seller are really okay with letting something slide for one reason or another, that’s fine. Just write it up as an addendum to the contract and get it signed. It doesn’t mean we’re not “nice” or “friendly,” it’s just professional.
Transactions evolve over the course of escrow. Everything may have been hunky-dory in the beginning, but could be contentious by the end. You don’t want something that the other team “let you slide on” in the beginning to be grounds for cancellation later.
4. Refusing to Re-Negotiate
Once an offer has been accepted it’s natural to start calculating how much you’ll walk away with from the closing table. Be careful not to count your pennies before they… Hatch? Just remember, you’re not done negotiating yet.
There is likely still a home inspection to be done and your buyers still need to get a loan. The home inspection could bring up expensive issues that were unknown before, an appraisal could come in low, or funding could get delayed. Every one of these potential snags is another negotiation that will need to take place before everyone can go on their merry way.
5. Attempting to Hide Liens from Buyers
Do you have liens for back-owed taxes, HOA fees, or unpaid contractors? You should disclose these early on in the process. If you don’t, the title report will anyway, so just do the right thing.
If you plan on trying to get the buyer to pay for any of this, then you will need to hash that out BEFORE opening escrow. Any buyer’s agent worth their weight will have stipulated in the purchase contract that these kinds of costs, should they arise, will be borne by the seller.
So unless you negotiated it in the beginning, you will probably be paying these liens out of your seller proceeds at the close of escrow. If your proceeds won’t cover the liens, then the buyers would be perfectly within their rights to cancel the sale, obviously.