While a career in real estate can be quite enjoyable, there are certain times when you know that you are actually doing a job and it isn’t fun. One of those times is when you have to give bad real estate news to your clients during a deal. Since I list homes for sellers and I also work as a buyer’s agent, I can tell you that there can always be bad news on both sides. As a way of perhaps purging those bad things, let’s go over a few on the home buyer side and the home seller side.
Bad News For The Home Seller
- The buyer is breaking the contract. No matter what the reason, telling a home seller that the buyer isn’t going to close on the property is bad news, and it stinks. It really doesn’t matter what the reason is, either. The home sellers have gone through the emotions of getting their house ready for sale, finding a buyer, and then when they are putting together their moving plans, they get hit with the last bit of information they want to hear. They have to put their house back on the market with the hopes of finding another buyer.
- There are no buyers for your home at this price. Some real estate agents try to dance around the pricing of a home as a game. They will call a lowered asking price a “price improvement.” It’s not an improvement for the seller, and that’s who you are working for. Home sellers can be forceful on their opinions on price, and they might be uncomfortable with any price lower than what they have in their minds at the start. This can cause a rift between home seller and agent, and it’s not great.
- The Buyer Is Asking For A Ridiculous Repair. I’ve had multiple home sellers walk me through a house and show me work that they have had done prior to listing their home for sale that they are extremely proud of. As an example, “Hey John, look at this kitchen I’ve just had remodeled. It cost us a fortune, but I’m sure the new home buyers are going to love it.” Then, during the home inspection phase, the private home inspector finds something wrong with the kitchen and the only fix is to tear out half of it. You’re never sure if this is a negotiation or actually a safety issue, but it doesn’t matter. You have to be the first to tell the seller that a point of pride has now become an impediment to a sale.
There are always variations of the 3 cases of bad news for the seller. Something we do at Deerwood Realty is that we work to get to know our clients. During this process, if there isn’t a fit, we move on. It’s better that we don’t work with a potential client for the exact reason that sometimes, we have to be bearers of bad news, and in this day, realtor safety is an issue.
Bad News For The Home Buyer
Have you ever seen those real estate commercials where the couple buys the house and everything has a storybook ending? Let’s just say that is an idealized version of reality that I don’t see all that often. Buying a home is a journey. There are plenty of ups and downs. Here are some of bad news scenarios we have to deal with on a regular basis.
- The seller will not amend the contract. This doesn’t seem like an issue, but it happens quite often. As an example, I once had a buyer who needed a survey. As part of our offer, we agreed to close in 30 days. The sellers countered with a closing in 60 days because they felt it would be a long time to get everything sold and to move. We agreed to the counter. After everyone agreed on inspections, we asked that the survey date be extended. This was because it was almost impossible to get a survey done within the contract time. The sellers refused. Was it within their right on the contract? Of course it was. Given the contract was 30 days in, did they really have to worry about us walking out of the deal? Not likely. You may have different opinions based on whether you are a seller or a buyer, but at the end of the day, I had to tell my buyer that we weren’t going to have a survey contingency. Not great news for the home buyer.
- The house you want to write an offer on has an accepted contract. This is not great news. Imagine showing 50 or more houses with the buyer and finally they have the Whitney Houston moment. You rush back to the office to work on the contract, but a smart agent already has a call into the seller’s agent. When you talk with the seller’s agent, the first thing they say is,” I’m sorry, we have an accepted contract.” That’s really bad. Why does this happen? It’s not out of malice. When a home seller gets an offer to purchase, the contract usually has a time clause of up to 24 hours or more for the home seller to make a decision. In that time, you could have easily scheduled a showing and taken your buyer to the home that they subsequently fell in love with. The home sellers could have decided within the time you saw the home to accept the offer someone else presented.
- The buyer can’t be approved for a mortgage. When you work with Deerwood Realty to buy a home, the first thing we work on is getting a mortgage pre approval. There are a ton of people who want to buy a home but cannot get a mortgage. During the pre-approval process, the potential home buyer might be blindsided by something on their credit that they didn’t even know about. Worse, it keeps them from being pre-approved. As real estate agents, we only have a limited amount of time, so we have to be working with people who can buy houses. It’s not great news to be the one to tell your potential home buyer they can’t buy a home at this time.
- Your offer to purchase has been rejected or another offer has been accepted. I lumped these two closely related bits of bad news into one. When another offer is accepted over yours as a home buyer, it’s bad news. Some home buyers will turn their disappointment and frustration on you. Some will look at it as a blessing and an opportunity to buy a better home. Perhaps what bothers me most about this news is that the buyers have made their decision to purchase. The logical conclusion is that the offer is accepted and they go on to live in the home of their dreams for many years. But, that isn’t what ends up happening. As a real estate broker, I’m used to seeing things through, but in this case, there’s no opportunity to do that.
Working Through Bad News
Real estate agents have to work through delivering bad news if they want to have success over the long term. I would think that giving bad news to people and enjoying it would be a negative reflection on any real estate professional. I do follow a few rules when it comes to bad news. They are listed below.
- Give bad news quickly. If you have bad news for your clients, get it out there quickly. Don’t wait around hoping the news is going to get any better. The longer it hangs over the transaction, the worse the response is going to be for all involved because the addition of time creates an emotional investment.
- If you have bad news, have some sort of solution to present. This is where some sales training differs than what we do at Deerwood Realty. From the time I was a child to now, we just don’t give bad news to people without a solution. Some real estate sales professionals do something different. They ask the person who has just gotten the bad news what they want to do about it. This doesn’t seem very professional to me, but whatever. That’s their call.
Perhaps you can tell that I absolutely hate giving bad news to people. I understand that it’s my responsibility to do so in my profession, but I’d much rather be handing new home buyers keys to their dream home or buying a nice closing gift for my home sellers.