There is a recipe for disaster involving agents, buyers, and sellers that every agent aims to avoid. Chicago Real Estate Attorney and first-time homebuyer instructor Ranj Mohip calls it “Post-Close Nightmares.”
When the seller doesn’t disclose history, the buyer doesn’t tell full plans for the property or the agent doesn’t ask enough questions, Mohip usually gets a call.
“Anytime there is a problem with a post-close issue, somebody didn’t do something they were supposed to do. Sometimes, it’s the attorney. Sometimes, the agent. Sometimes, the client.” he said.
Mohip recalls the woman who fell in love with a condo and spent all her money to land the unit. She learned after moving in that the darling 95-pound Mastiff she’d owned since he was a puppy, would not make the cut. The homeowners association board had a 25-pound limit on pooches and sent her a letter to get rid of the dog.
Heartbroken, the woman tried rallying support from her new neighbors. She sat outside her home waiting for other dog owners to appear and gave them a sensational letter written by Mohip, with a picture of her dog as a pup. In the end, she was able to keep her dog, paid a small fine and had limitations on when she could bring the dog in or out of the unit.
All this could have been addressed with early questions before the sale, said Mohip. “Now you are negotiating from a point of weakness,” he said.
Getting the details before the close is essential to getting the keys to a home without any static.
Asking the client their plans for the home, making them aware of deed or condo advisory board restrictions and insisting on surveys, inspections, title searches, building code violations, property fines and insurance are all essential in avoiding most problems, said the attorney.
Chuck Roush, productivity coach with Keller Williams Memorial in Houston agrees.
There are things the buyer, the seller, and the agent can do to prevent post-close nightmares, said Roush, who trains agents to do it right the first time as yet another way to get referrals and repeat business.
Buyers and sellers should always hire a Realtor for representation, close at a title company, get title insurance and always get a residential service contract, said Roush.
Because Houston is prone to flooding, even in places that don’t historically flood, Certified Residential Specialist Freddy Rodriguez, insists on inspections, flood insurance, and foundation elevation checks he makes sure are done to avoid post-close nightmares.
“The real estate agent has to do due diligence on behalf of the buyer before you get past the option period. Then you have negotiating room and can say, we need you to play ball and extend the option period,” said Rodriguez, a RE/MAX residential mortgage broker and owner of Motto Mortgage Plus. He urges clients to get flood insurance – a $300 investment that could save tens of thousands of dollars.
He also looks at the big-ticket items such as HVAC and roofs. “It could be a $6,000 problem and once it closes funds, you can’t go back to the seller,” said Rodriguez.
The former Marine and firefighter got into the business 16 years ago and takes pride in his service to customers and to learning. That’s why Rodriguez said potential clients should question the experience and education background of a real estate agent and demand a resume and references to avoid future problems.
“So many people are getting their real estate license today. But half the people are not up to speed or are incompetent and don’t take it seriously. It’s more than just opening and closing doors, as a real estate professional they gotta put the buyer first. Who cares if you lose the sale, you can’t let a buyer buy a house knowing there could be an issue,” said Rodriguez. “There is no glory in that.”
Even when you think everything is done, “buyers should always do a final walk-through before closing and have repairs done by the seller inspected again by a licensed inspector,” said Rousch. “Sellers should hire only licensed contractors or service providers in the specific trade to complete repairs negotiated with a buyer,” continued the productivity coach.
To protect yourself and your client, always get everything in writing, in clear and specific emails. And, as the coach noted, loyalty to a client should never trump one’s ethical and legal responsibility to do the right thing, obey the law and urge your clients to do the same.
“Work only with pre-qualified buyers and sellers who are willing to listen to your professional advice. Be prepared to walk away from (fire) a client who is wanting to do something unethical or illegal.
But what about when clients don’t listen?
Mohip had a client from Florida who was eager to spend $2 million in cash for multiple condos in Chicago because the client had plans to rent them out as short-term rentals but did not disclose that information. Mohip gave him the paperwork to read but the client didn’t read that leases under nine months were not allowed.
“He overpaid because he thought he’d make it up monthly. A one bedroom in some of these condos can rent for $1500 a month and with $150 a night Airbnb rent you can get up to $4500 a month. But he was stuck,” said the real estate attorney.
Mohip also recalls a couple of clients who fell in love with a property but Mohip recommended they not buy it because there were no permits for the work done on the property.
“They were like, no, we want it. Their agent told them to drop me and get another attorney because I wasn’t pushing the deal through. I said I don’t think your agent has your best interest at heart, but it’s all about your commission. They closed and there were multiple problems,” said Mohip. He was friends with the owners but they loved the property more and went with the agent’s recommended attorney and closed the deal. They quickly learned that since no permits were approved, workmanship was shoddy and their floors buckled in the basement because a moisture barrier was never installed and pipes were bursting because vents weren’t cut out for the furnace.
“I really tried to tell them, this is not the deal you are looking for and if you do, you’ve got to get the price way down to pay for repairs. I’m putting a lot at the feet of the agent. That buyer could have said, ‘I still want it.’ You can’t protect people from themselves,” said Mohip.
Getting matters checked out and being serious about the results is important, said the attorney.
“You can buy a hooptie and get it inspected. People do that for a $300 car, and yet don’t get an inspection for a $300,000 house?”