Archive for September, 2012

How Do I Learn About a Neighborhood That I’m Thinking About Moving To?

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

How do I learn about a neighborhood that I’m thinking about moving to?

In the course of my business day as a Realtor I find out a lot about the properties I list (and show) simply by visiting them at different times of the day, and I would encourage you to do the same.

Some properties are quiet morning, noon and night.  Some change as people come home from work, or on weekends.  Here are some observations I’ve made over the years…

Some roads require full face helmets and armor. Find out ahead of time.

Traffic in some neighborhoods will require a full face helmet and armor (see below).

Parking

If the place you are thinking about buying has limited parking, and you’ll need to park on the street, you better head over at night or on an early Saturday morning (when most people are home from work) to see how easy it is to park.

In some condos or townhome communities, or in the areas close to St. Augustine’s Historic District, parking overnight and on weekends can be a real issue.

You’ll also want to know about any parking restrictions that a homeowner’s association or a municipality has.  For example, most people don’t realize that St. Augustine Beach proper requires boats to be in their own building (i.e. a garage, city code 6.07.06) and can’t be parked in a driveway.  And there are restrictions on commercial vehicles parked at a residential property, which would matter if you are a roofer (6.03.10).  It would be a real corker to find out after you move in to a place that you’re not allowed to park your vehicle, boat, RV or commercial trailer there…so do the research ahead of time.

Noise

Your first indication that your neighbor starts his diesel truck at 5 a.m. and lets it idle for 15 minutes may be the first night you spend in your new home.  And to be fair, unless you are there for the those correct 15 minutes, you’ll never find out about it ahead of time.  The current residents may have tuned the noise out over the years and don’t even think about it anymore.  So if you see a big diesel in your potential new neighbor’s driveway, ask about it!

Drive or walk the neighborhood at each part of the day and see if it’s quiet or loud.  Drive it on a Friday or Saturday night.  If you work nights drive it during the time you’d be sleeping to see what the noise is like during the day, and what time landscapers usually turn up in the neighborhood to mow and trim.

Also, pull up Google maps and see if there is a railroad, airport or factory nearby, and then hang out for a bit during the day (or when you’d be sleeping) to see what the noise is like.

Your Neighbors

There’s a house I sold once a long time ago in a great neighborhood…I’d seen it morning and night.  And then I showed up in the middle of the day when the neighbor had his garage door open.  Inside the garage was a derelict vehicle and the garage was piled full of trash.  It was the house of a real hoarder.  I’m not sure how often the guy had the door open…at least one other time when I went back…but it was a real eyesore when the door was up.

Other times you’ll have the neighbor who sits in their garage all day, watching.  Generally this is good thing because they keep an eye out.  But it can be a bit unnerving to be hailed every time you run out to the car or mailbox.

The neighbor who has mattreses piled on the side of the house…that neighbor isn’t going to change.  If it’s going to be a big deal make your decision right then and there.

And if you drive by on a Saturday night and there are cars parked up and down the block because one of the neighbors throws big parties, drive by on the next weekend to see if it’s a weekly event.  If you’re already under contract there should be enough time nested in your inspection period to do this weekend-to-weekend.

And it never hurts to talk to the neighbors either.

Some Realtors don’t like it when you talk to the neighbors because, frankly, some neighbors will try and disparage the house you are planning to buy because they don’t like the current owner.

Most of these “Negative Nellies” will seek you out anyway.  Take them with a grain of salt, but turn the tables on them and question them about things you’re interested in…for example, a neighbor that idles a diesel truck or throws parties.  That will help you narrow a time down to come back and check on things.

And sometimes there are grains of truth in what the Negative Nellies say.  For example, they may be the only source besides the owner who knows a tree hit the house you are planning to buy (and will tell you).  Then you can follow up with that as well.

Crime

For St. Johns County the online sources aren’t the best for finding out crime in a zip code or neighborhood.  The best bet is to simply call the Sheriff’s department at (904) 824-8304 and ask, or visit their website at http://www.sjso.org/.  If your home isn’t in the county proper (but actually in the city of St. Augustine or St. Augustine Beach), they can direct you to the correct department.

Their Florida Department of Law Enforcement also has an good online site at http://offender.fdle.state.fl.us/ that tells you where sexual predators are living.

Please be aware that, due to Federal Fair Housing Laws, real estate agents are prohibited from giving you an opinion on the “safety” or “crime” in a neighborhood.  For that you need to go to the experts, which would be the local police.

Schools

St. Johns County Schools has a link where you can check to see what school an address is zoned for.  Find out what school you are zoned to attend.

There’s also a resource called GreatSchools.org that “rates” schools based on reviews by parents and others.

Like the neighbors, take GreatSchools with a grain of salt.  Having kids in the local schools and having volunteered in the local schools, my impression of the ratings is that they are more a gauge of which schools have the most enthusiastic and internet savy parents.  In the schools where there are higher amounts of kids on free or reduced lunch programs (like where I volunteer), where a single mom might be working two jobs and presumably doesn’t have time to waste on the internet rating her kid’s school…well, you be the judge.

Walkability and Amenities

This is one of those real, “Well, duh!” ones where you have to walk the neighborhood.  Pull out or walk from the address and find out how long it takes to get to the beach, to the grocery, to the auto parts store, etc.

Walkscore can give you a rough idea of how “walkable” a neighborhood is (on a 1-100), but it’s nothing like just getting on the ground.  I did a search on different St. Augustine neighborhoods and Walkscore missed every Publix supermarket, but somehow included every gas station and convenience store as a “grocery,” sometimes counting the same store twice.  It also gave a certain neighborhood a very good walkability rating (84)…even though the closest actual grocery (not a convenience store) was probably 2 0r 3 miles away.

Yelp…though it’s mostly known as a restaurant review site…is actually a pretty good resource for finding regular amenities in a neighborhood.  In the same searches I did for Walkscore, Yelp found all the Publix supermarkets, auto parts stores, restaurants, etc, that I punched in.

Traffic Danger

If your a cyclist or commute on a bike (like I sometimes do), get on that bike and ride.

A quick way to die in St. Augustine is to ride your bike on Old Moultrie Road between Kings Estate Road and U.S. 1…it is as unforgiving a stretch of pavement for cyclists as there will ever be locally.  If you do something like buy a home in that stretch (like in Willow Walk, for example) and expect to ride from home to anywhere, better invest in downhill armor, a full face helmet and an ejection seat.

Just keep in mind to drive it before you bike it…the danger on any road is usually visible in the car as well.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty the next time you buy or sell, and let us help you find the perfect neighborhood.  Email ReQuestion@email.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

 

Homes Sold in St. Augustine, Florida: 3 New Sales

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

St. Augustine Team posted these three sales recently:

915 Brookhaven Drive in the St. Johns Golf & Country Club, St. Augustine, FL 32092

915 Brookhaven Drive 32092 Sold by St. Augustine Team in St. Johns Golf & Country Club

915 Brookhaven Dr.

Extremely nice 4 bedroom / 2.5 bath home on a deep golf course lot in the popular St Johns Golf and Country Club. Large open ground floor with formal living and dining rooms as well as a family room opening up to screened porch. Nicely upgraded kitchen with granite counters, 42″ cabinets & commercial-style gas range. All wet areas are tiled. All bedrooms are upstairs. Large master bedroom features sitting/den area. Convenient location for access to Jacksonville & St Augustine. Short Sale. Sold by Sean Hess, Kate Stevens and Ron Barry. ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call (904) 377-2276.

148 Marsh Island Drive in Eagle Creek, St. Augustine, FL 32095

148 Marsh Island Drive sold by St. Augustine Team in Eagle Creek

148 Marsh Island Drive

Lovingly maintained home located in Eagle Creek has an expansive master bedroom and en-suite. Situated in the back of the community this property features an inground pool, large screened lanai and covered patio with privacy behind. New A/C in 2010, as well as new carpet and tile. The community of Eagle Creek is conveniently located between St. Augustine and Jacksonville. Eagle Creek features an inground pool and playground area. Sold by Kate Stevens, Sean Hess and Ron Barry. ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call (904) 377-2276.

3304 Cedar Glen Way in Oakbrook, St. Augustine, FL 32086

3304 Cedar Glen Way 32086, Sold by St. Augustine Team in Oakbrook

3304 Cedar Glen Way

This sophisticated single level home was custom built by the current owner with attention to detail, comfort and elegance. It features tile floors in the living areas and hardwood in the bedrooms, 2-sided gas fireplace enjoyed from the living room or glassed in family room. The 10′ soaring ceilings are trimmed with crown moulding. A security system, sound system, 4-zone AC system, landscape lighting, and brick patio add to the comforts of home. Sold by Monica Nunchuck. Email Monica@MonicaNunchuck.com or call (904) 669-1075.

Hire St. Augustine Team the next time you need to buy or sell.

Do Zillow Zestimates Effect What Buyers Will Pay?

Monday, September 24th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

Do Zillow zestimates effect what a buyer will pay?

Do Zillow zestimates effect what a buyer will pay?


Do Zillow zestimates effect what buyers will pay?

Yes and no.

First the “yes.”

In my market of St. Augustine the Zillow zestimates that I’ve looked at have almost always been higher than market price, in some cases as high as 30% above market price (based on actual sales numbers and appraisals).

When the Zillow zestimates are out of line it makes it much easier to sell a home.

The reason?  If a buyer is putting too much faith in a high zestimate, and the home is priced at a more correct (and lower) market price, the buyer thinks they are getting a deal.  Thus the buyer jumps on the home and doesn’t haggle too much…a great situation if you are the listing agent or the seller.

Now the “no.”

Regardless of any online estimate, buyers still enter the actual market.  Buyers view multiple properties in person and they get a strong feel for what the correct price for a home is.  If they have been paying attention to things like Zillow zestimates and what they are seeing in person doesn’t jive, then they tend to disregard the zestimate.

Buyers look at Zillow more for ballpark figures.

Buyers still look at Zillow.  They still reference it because it gives them a second look at the housing market and ballpark figures on houses.  But they look at it with a grain of salt now, along with a a lot of other data.

Houses here are moving faster than at anytime in the last five years, and buyers are learning how to find the actual sales figures online (not estimates).  Plus, as I mentioned above, they are seeing the houses in person.  When you combine the on-the-ground knowledge with actual sales numbers, it makes a much more informed buyer.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty the next time you go to buy or sell a house.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com  or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327. 

How Important is it to Get Showing Feedback?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

How important is it to get showing feedback?

Use the feedback to your advantage, like Hendrix.

Use the feedback to your advantage, like Hendrix.

It’s only important if you plan to use the feedback.

Don’t ask for feedback if you don’t plan to use it.

Also be aware that a lack of showings is feedback in and of itself.  More on that later.

Getting Feedback Is Hit or Miss

I generally ask for feeback when somebody shows one of my listings.  But it’s a real hit or miss getting an agent to respond.

In a best case scenario only about 50% will ever respond.  And there is a small cadre of agents who never respond. 

So if your agent tells you they didn’t get any feedback they are probably telling the truth.

Ask for Feedback Only if You Plan to Use it

When you do get feedback it’s important to pay attention to it.

For example, if buyers keep saying, “paint the garage door,” or “there’s wood rot around the door,” or “I hate the color of the kitchen,” they are telling you exactly why they didn’t make an offer on the house.

So paint the garage door, fix the wood rot, or paint the kitchen already, and maybe you won’t have to lower the price.

Lots of Showings and No Showings Are Feedback Too

If you are getting lots of showings and no offers, that’s feedback.

Your home is making the first cut.

On paper the price looks right for the house.

But when the buyer shows up the real version and the paper version aren’t meshing.

If you are getting no showings then the price on paper doesn’t look right for the house.

The only exception is that true luxury homes don’t get a lot of showings because there may be only a few people in a given market who can afford them.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you go to buy or sell.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

All images, video and audio not in the public domain are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17–United States Code–Section 107) and remain the property of the film or photo copyright owners.

 

Should I Sign that Backup Offer?

Monday, September 17th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

Shoud I sign that backup offer?

If you are a seller:

Go ahead and sign that backup, but make sure that it is referenced as a backup offer in the wording of the contract.

Henne went from backup to main on Sunday, make sure you're prepared for the same thing. (AP photo/John Raoux)

Henne went from backup to main on Sunday. Make sure you're prepared for the same thing. (AP photo/John Raoux)

In Florida this is typically done with something called a “backup addendum.”

Why do you need a backup addendum?

Because you don’t want to sell the home to two different parties at the same time.

If you sign two real estate contracts and one is not referenced as a backup, you have essentially sold the house twice.  It stands to reason that the party that doesn’t get the house might try to take it out on you legally.

Another thing to remember as a seller:

Each contract has to live on its own merits. 

There is some tendency to think of a backup as “insurance,” and to negotiate it less stringently.

Don’t make that mistake.

It is important to negotiate the backup contract just like it is the main contract, because in some cases it will become the main contract. 

And you’re going to feel really silly if you didn’t take the backup negotiation seriously, and the backup suddenly goes into play.

If you are buyer:

If you a buyer signing a backup offer it’s really important that you understand two things:

The first is that you may not get the house.

For confidentiality reasons you won’t be able to get a play-by-play account of how the main contract is going.

And since chances are you won’t sit around waiting for your backup offer to move into main position…

The second is that you need to know exactly and under what circumstances you can get out of the backup contract if you find another house.

Getting out of a backup contract is typically covered by the backup addendum.  Just understand the hows and whys ahead of time so you can get out of it if you need to.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty the next time you buy or sell.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

All images, video and audio not in the public domain are used in accordance with the Fair Use Law (Per Title 17–United States Code–Section 107) and remain the property of the film or photo copyright owners.

 

5688 N Oceanshore Blvd 32137 (A1A): Our Diamond in the Rough

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Sean Hessby Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

5688 North Oceanshore Boulevard (A1A) on the Intracoastal near Palm Coast is our “Diamond in the Rough.”

A rare opportunity to own almost 3 acres on the Intracoastal Waterway (ICW) in the upscale ‘Hammock’ area, four minutes south of Marineland and St. Johns County (8 minutes south of Matanzas Inlet). 100 acre nature preserve across ICW with undisturbed views. 200′ frontage the water. Magnificent piece of relatively undisturbed Florida. Many mature trees – oak, palm & citrus, very rare for a homesite in this locale with water frontage. Similar to Washington Oaks State Gardens just to the north. Currently a 4 bedroom /3 bath home of approx 1,800sq ft home + smaller cottage close to the water sit on the property. 200’ frontage on A1A (N. Oceanshore Blvd): first 200′ into the property from A1A is zoned R/C-many possibilities. Just a minute or two north of the Hammock Publix.

There is a lot of potential work here cleaning up the property for a new home, or in upgrading the existing homes and dock for new ownership. Yet this is a rare property. It has never been clear cut and the existing hardwoods are extremely unusual to find on an Intracoastal homesite in Northeast Florida. Even more unusual is that the front 200 x 200 section of the site fronting A1A / N. Oceanshore may allow a commercial property, an ideal situation for someone who wants to live and work on the land. Under the same ownership for the past 35 years, this property has been prized for both its proximity to civilization and its separation from it at the same time. It was an ideal place to raise children because “they always could find something to do on the property and never sought out trouble somewhere else.” The value is in the land for this true diamond in the rough.

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.

View the virtual tour of 5688 N Oceanshore Blvd.

See a short video of the property below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you buy or sell a home. Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

399 Federal Point Road 32131, Estate Home with Guest Cottage on the St. Johns River

Friday, September 14th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

Monica Nunchuck, Kate Stevens and I just listed a magnificent home on the St. Johns River at 399 Federal Point Road.  This is the rare property that is worth its near-million dollar pricetag.

To wit:

Absolutely stunning 18 acre St Johns riverfront estate on historic Federal Point. 435′ river front with magnificent views. 350′ dock with boathouse & lift. Main Home: 3 bedroom, 2 full bath, 2 half bath, and 3,600 sq ft overlooking the river.  PLUS an additional 1,080 sq ft, 2 bedroom, 1 bath guest cottage. Both built to maximize the viewscap and finished to a high standard. Lots of natural wood. An oversized 2 car garage PLUS additional workshops, storage and carports. Beautiful piece of property with lots of mature trees. A rare find.

Contact Monica at (904) 669-1075, Monica@MonicaNunchuck.com or Kate at (904) 377-2276, Kate@StAugustineTeam.com for more information.

See the virtual tour for 399 Federal Point Road. 

Or watch the short video below:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty the next time you buy or sell a home.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

Do Trulia and Zillow Remove Listings Once they are Sold?

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

Do Trulia and Zillow remove listings once they are sold?

This Trulia snip shows my Sea Eagle Circle listing as "Active."

This Trulia snip shows my Sea Eagle Circle listing as "Active."

You would hope so…if all the listings they show are actually for sale.

Huh?

Trulia and Zillow are about advertising, not real estate.

Trulia and Zillow are advertising engines.  They are not real estate brokerages.

But they do try and show homes for sale, and they hope you hit their websites looking to find homes.

They then try to parlay your visits into advertising sales.

For example, they try to get Home Depot to buy ad space for something like “Replace Your Kitchen Cabinets with the Home Depot.”  Because if you’re looking in Trulia for a new home you might also be looking to update your old home and not move.

And they try to sell advertising to me with something like  “Sean Hess is the Waterfront Expert in St. Augustine.”  Because if you’re searching for a new home in 32086 on Zillow you might be looking for “The Waterfront Expert in St. Augustine.”*

Where Trulia and Zillow get their data is anybody’s guess.

Some of the data on Trulia and Zillow is legit, in other words it is purchased from a Multiple Listing Service (MLS) in some city or region.  Some of it comes from public records, which may or may not reflect the true status of a property.  Some of it may come from a third party (or sometimes fourth or fifth party) who originally bought the data and then sold it and resold it.  And some of it may be “scraped,” which means a data-collection engine crawled a website and took the data.

Even when the data is legitimately purchased it might just be a one-time thing: they bought the data one time and will never update it again.

It may not show if the home is sold or not.

It may not show if the home is pending or not.

Here’s an example:

I recently listed a home at 3941 Sea Eagle Circle in St. Augustine and put it under contract in about 3 days.  A few weeks later I get an email that it had been added to Trulia.  And today the listing is still on Trulia as “active” (see the photo on this post, which I snipped this morning).

I know the information originally came from the Jacksonville (NEFAR) MLS because of the watermark on the photos., but I don’t know if it was purchased straight from the MLS or from a third (or fourth) party.

And to be fair to Trulia, the home is in “Contingent” status.  “Contingent” means the home is under contract but that there are things that have to happen before it can be sold…for example, home inspections and financing requirements.  It’s a way to let other Realtors know “You can show this house and the seller might be willing to accept a backup offer.”

Some MLS systems consider “Contingent” to mean the same thing as “Pending,” while others regard it as “Still Active.”

It’s confusing, I know.

So maybe Trulia did try and update the home but the way they interpreted the data told them that the listing is still “Active and Is Not Under Contract In Any Way Shape or Form.”

Which I love, personally.

Because it’s still out there generating buyer leads for me, and then I can turn it around and tell a buyer, “Well you see, Trulia’s just not that accurate, what you really need is ME to get you the most up to date blah blah blah…”

So, use Trulia and Zillow for fun, to get a kind of feel for the market. 

But when you get serious and really want to know what’s on the market, a Realtor, be it myself or someone else, is the only true source of “up to the minute” accuracy in a home market.

*”The Waterfront Expert In St. Augustine” 

Earlier this week a Realtor called me three times before 9 am, desperately wanting to see a listing that I sold five months ago.  I don’t know, maybe she found it on Trulia.

Anyway, she called my partner Kate about the same thing, and Kate told her it was sold (I’m not a complete jerk…I got back to the lady  myself by email at 9:30).

So when I get into the office, Kate and I compare notes, and I say, “Has to be a newbie.”

Kate says, “I bet she is.”

And I say, “I bet she’s The Waterfront Expert.”

Because the first thing a newbie Realtor does is brand themselves as The Waterfront Expert.

They’re confused, you see.

They ask themselves, “Should I be the Beaches Expert, the Intracoastal Expert or the Riverfront Expert?”

Then they think, “I’ll cover all my bases and be The Waterfront Expert.”

See, in their mind they automatically think some type of waterfront is automatically the most expensive and desirable type of listing to sell, so they’ll be The Expert.  Forget that no one has ever heard of them. :-)

So then Kate says, “Maybe she’ll ‘Move Your Dreams Forward.’”

Then I come back with, “I bet she’ll ‘Find You The Right House and Make It SOLD.’”

For fifteen minutes we came up with every recycled Realtor tag line we could think of.

The Worst Ever Realtor Tagline came from my other partner (and co-owner of St. Augustine Team) Ron Barry.

If you know Ron he is one of the single most, hardest working agents in the market.  He puts in a lot of hours.

Well back when he was new he partnered briefly with an agent named Inez Tanksley.  Inez was also an extremely hardworker (she has since moved back to Mississippi).  So people were always remarking to them about how they were always “busy as beavers.”

So they decided to call themselves The Beaver Patrol.

That lasted one week.

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty, The Waterfront Experts the next time you go to buy or sell a home.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

 

 

 

What is a 4 Point Inspection?

Friday, September 7th, 2012

Sean Hessby Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join ua on Facebook and Google+.

Have you been asked by your insurance company to get a “4 point” inspection?

What is a 4 point insurance inspection?

Well, it’s a basic inspection of your air conditioning and heat, your electrical and plumbing systems, and your roof.  My partner, Broker Associate Kate Stevens, and I go through it with you in this short video:

Hire St. Augustine Team Realty when you need to buy or sell a home!  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

 

If the Buyer Misses the Closing Date, is the Deal Automatically Canceled?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook and Google+.

If the buyer misses the closing date is the deal automatically canceled?

In all my years of real estate, I have never seen a contract terminated automatically.

Generally, either the buyer or the seller has to make the decision to terminate the contract, and then notify the other party in writing.

Even Arnold can't terminate a contract without paperwork.

Even Arnold can't terminate a contract without paperwork.

Whether that termination “sticks,” depends on what the real estate contract says.

If you have a situation where a buyer misses the closing date, the real estate contract will address it.

For example, did the buyer show up to closing, but then their loan paperwork and money didn’t show up?  The contract should cover that.

Was the home hit by a bus?  Was the buyer hit by a bus?  Was that the reason they missed closing?

Did the seller take the refrigerator and washer, and is it that the buyer is just refusing to close until those items are returned?

Or was it that they just chose not to show up?

The contract should cover all these things.

About the closest thing I’ve ever seen to an automatic termination was back in the real estate boom.

A seller I was working with had a parcel of vacant land that a buyer snapped up right after it came on the market.

For whatever reason the buyer’s agent decided that he wanted to close on a different date, which the seller did not agree to.

And the seller has to agree to it…for the closing date to be moved both the buyer and seller have to sign an agreement to that effect.

So when the closing date came and went and the buyer didn’t show up, I made a few phone calls, found another buyer (at a higher price…it was the real estate boom, after all), and then sent a polite cancellation letter to the buyer’s agent.

In other words, the deal didn’t automatically terminate.  I had to write a letter to the buyer’s agent notifying him that sales window expired, and that his deal was canceled.

The Reality

In the example above it was an extremely hot market, it was a low-dollar property, and it was easy to find another buyer.

The reality of most missed closings these days, however, is that either:

1) The buyer needs an extension of the closing date because their loan package isn’t going to show up on time.

or

2) In a short sale the lender approving the short sale is gumming up the works, and not providing their paperwork in a timely manner.  In these cases it’s often the seller that needs an extension.

The downside to cancelling the contract is that…for both parties…the whole process has to start all over again.

The buyer has to go out and find another house, secure financing, do inspections, etc.

The seller has to put the home back on the market, wait until another buyer makes an offer, negotiate the sales price all over again, go through the inspection process and then the closing process, etc.

In the seller’s case there may even be a backup offer.  But the home still has to go through inspections, financing and closing, which takes a minimum of 45 days.  Very rarely is there a cash buyer sitting in the wings.

So most parties work their differences out.

My only advice would be, “Nobody likes surprises.”  So if you know things are going to run long, start the work towards getting a closing date extension right away.

Hire St. Augusitne Team Realty, where we like to keep home buying and home selling surprises to a minimum.  Email ReQuestion@StAugTeam.com or call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.

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