Entries Tagged 'Real Estate Blog' ↓

Hero Loans…Once Again, SELLER BEWARE

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…OK…we thought we were done with the many calamities that can befall a seller when they are selling a home with a Hero loan in place, but here we go again.

To briefly refresh, Hero loans (or Pace loans…they are known by either name) are loans obtained by the seller for energy related home improvements, and then the loan balance is attached to the property tax bill to be paid off over time.  However, in the event of a foreclosure, the Hero loan is now a part of the property taxes and therefore gets paid off before the 1st trust deed, and this does not sit well with new lenders.  As a result, lenders refused to make a new loan on a property with an existing Hero loan unless said Hero loan was paid off at the time of closing.

In essence, no matter what the salesperson told the seller at the time the Hero loan was obtained, a buyer cannot assume the seller’s existing Hero loan unless the buyer is paying all cash for the home.  Otherwise, any new loan needed by the buyer will require the existing Hero loan to be paid in full.

However, recently FHA has said that they (as opposed to FNMA and FREDDIE MAC, the two largest loan purchasers) WILL allow a Hero loan to remain in place when a new loan is issued.  This would allow some sellers to better sell their home if the buyer, for whatever reason, was willing to assume the existing Hero loan payments.

BUT (and we can’t say this LOUD enough), as is usually the case with existing Hero loans, there is still a large problem with the buyer assuming the existing Hero loan.  In this case, while FHA has said that they are OK with the existing Hero staying in place, title companies, who insure the title to the home, are not allowing this new FHA loan to stay in place unless THE EXISTING HERO LENDER FORMALLY AGREES TO THE NEW 1ST LOAN BEING PAID AHEAD OF THE HERO LOAN IN THE ADVENT OF A FORECLOSURE.  This is called a “subordination agreement”, and it’s no surprise that most Hero lenders will not sign one.  Therefore, no subordination agreement, no sale, no matter what FHA says.

The bottom line here is that, as we have stated before in this blog space, Hero loans are nothing but trouble for sellers.  Most sellers are sold a “bill of goods” by the original salesperson about the buyer “just assuming the loan” when in reality, the sales person is not a Realtor, and knows nothing about the financing world that the owner will have to live in when it comes time to sell.

So…our advice, as we have stated before, don’t finance your home energy improvements with a Hero loan, and if you do, you really need to understand the ramifications you will face if you want to sell your home before the Hero loan is paid off.  We really hate to see these sort of problems crop up for a seller when they least expect it.

Good luck…hope this helps.

 

Why Your House Payment Changes Year-to-Year With an Impound Account

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…THIS is a good question, and one that almost every buyer who has an impound account has had to deal with over the years.  So…let’s see if we can provide the answer that will explain why your monthly house payment can vary from year to year because of your impound account.

First, we will assume that you have a fixed rate loan.  This means that your monthly house payment you make to the lender who gave you the loan is the same every month until the loan is paid, or you sell the house.

Secondly, before we can explain why your monthly payment may change from year to year, we need to first explain exactly what an impound account is.

An impound account is created so that you, the owner of a home, can make one payment every month, and that payment not only covers the loan payment referenced above, but also pays your homeowners insurance, and your annual property tax bill.  In essence, your monthly payment is actually 3 payments…loan, insurance, and property taxes.

Now…a few facts about an impound account.  An impound account is established when you get your loan to buy your house.  If your down payment is less than 20% of the sales price, then in most cases, you are required to have an impound account.  If your down payment is 20% or more, then having an impound account is voluntary.

Also, since your payment now includes the 3 items mentioned above, you need to know that your property taxes are paid twice per year (usually April and December), and your homeowners insurance is paid once per year, on the anniversary date of your purchase.

Now we can explain why your payment can change from year to year.

When the lender gets your monthly payment, the bulk of it goes towards your loan payment.  However, the part of your monthly payment that represents the insurance and property taxes gets set aside in your “impound account” to build-up until the those bills need to be paid.  For example, if your total monthly payment is $2,000, and your loan payment is $1,500, and the insurance portion is $100, and the property taxes are $400, then the “extra” $500 is set aside in your account so that when the property taxes are due (April & December), or the insurance is due, there is enough money in your account to pay these bills.

The most important thing to understand here is that your lender uses YOUR money to pay these insurance and tax bills, not THEIR money.  That means that there needs to be enough money in your “impound account” to pay these bills when they are due…with some left over as a pad for the lender in case you are late with a payment, or miss a payment.

Lastly, understand that when you first closed escrow on your home, and established your impound account, the account was “seeded” with your money to make sure there was enough available to pay your first round of taxes and insurance…and this original amount needed was estimated by the lender.

So…here is typically what happens with an impound account…and if you have ever tried to steer a boat, you will understand what we are saying next.

Since the lender estimated the original amount needed to establish your impound account, sometimes they estimate too low…or too high.  If they estimated too low, then when the time comes to make your tax and insurance payments, the lender gets scared the balance of your account is too low, so they send you a letter telling you they are raising your monthly payment to get more money in your impound account.  Remember, they pay with your money, not theirs, so they want to make sure they have plenty of your money in the account.

However, about a year later, their computer models now say you have too much money in your account, so they send you a refund of the overage, and reduce your payment, since they now have too much.  Then, about a year after that, they now think they have too little again, and they send you another letter saying there is an impound shortage, and the payment needs to go up again.  This merry-go-round can continue for the life of your loan if things get really screwed up.

Now, to be fair, your monthly payment may rise some over the years because of annual increases in both your insurance and property taxes…but most of the time, when you have an impound account, you are destined for these annual “course corrections” (like steering the boat) as your lender tries to find some sort of payment balance.

Hence, the ever-changing payment that comes with an impound account.

Not to confuse the issue, but if you are tired of all these changes, and want to eliminate your impound account and make these payments on your own, you can usually do that once the equity in your home is 20% or more…just check with your lender.

Hope this helps you understand why your “fixed” monthly house payment can change every year if you have an impound account.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our blog posts.

 

Sellers: How to Handle Multiple Offers

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Spring is here, and with it comes a pretty active real estate market.  There are a variety of reasons why this is so, from a reduced inventory (supply), to a desire for buyers to get the low home interest rates while before the Fed raises them again (demand).  Whatever the cause, the result is that in some price ranges, sellers are experiencing multiple offers…which raises the question on how best to handle this situation.

Since we deal with this in our office on almost a daily basis, we thought a few helpful hints might make for a smooth negotiation if you ever find yourself in this enviable position.  Just remember…every situation is different, so use the following wisely depending on your price range, the number of offers, how long you have been for sale, and a host of other factors that you can discuss with your agent.

First, remember that “Pigs get fat, Hogs get slaughtered.”  This is our way of saying that as a seller, don’t get cocky, and don’t get too greedy.  The worst thing a seller can do is pit the buyers against each other to the point where things get stretched so tightly that the “rubber band” breaks.  If  you are not careful here, and come across as too greedy, the potential for the buyers to walk away, or worse yet, agree to your terms and then bail out later when they reconsider are pretty high.  So…yes, you can stretch everyone a bit, but don’t just go crazy.  Remember, you want all you can get, but you get nothing if the sale never closes.

Secondly, the highest offer is not always the best.  Most of the time it is, but make sure you consider the terms of all the offers.  If the highest price offer is a 95% loan (5% down payment) with a buyer with good but not great FICO scores (basically a credit score denoting how easy it will be for the buyer to qualify for the loan) vs. an all cash offer a few thousand dollars less, the all cash offer might have a far better chance of closing than the highest price one with the 95% loan.  There is a lot that can go wrong with a new loan, especially one with very little as a down payment, so be careful here.  Common sense goes a long way when considering which offer is best.

Thirdly, you can counter all or as many of the offers as you desire, and the counters can be different.  Again, don’t go crazy, but there is no reason you cannot counter more than one offer, and since each offer has different terms, each counter might be different as well.  Some you might counter with a higher price, and some with better terms, and some with a different close of escrow date, or all might contain the removal of some item the buyer wanted the seller to pay for (ie: home protection policy, termite report, etc.).  Just remember rule #1 above and you will be OK.

Lastly, remember that each situation is different, and all of our rules above might not apply to your transaction!  This is critically important to understand, because there are so many variables for each sale.  Price range, how long you have been on the market, work the house needs done, termite reports and potential clearances, contingencies the buyer may have….and the list goes on.  Here is where a good real estate agent can guide you on what is important, and what is mere window dressing.

In the end, all good negotiations should leave both parties feeling like they are relatively happy.  Trying to squeeze the last ounce out of a buyer usually leaves them bitter at some later point…and sometimes this bitterness just gets too much for the buyer to swallow, and they walk away from the sale.

Remember…the goal is not to just sell the house, but to CLOSE the house as well…and if you leave a little on the table for the next guy, chances are you will accomplish both.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading.

Does a Real Estate Agent Have to Tape-Measure a Home to get the Accurate Square Footage?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…One of our buyer clients asked us this question this week, and we thought other buyers may have the same concerns…hence the subject of our blog today.

To answer this question in a nutshell, NO…a real estate agent does not have to tape a home when providing the square footage of that home to a potential buyer.  In fact, all agents are discouraged from doing so since the actual taping of a home falls outside an agents area of expertise.

So…where does the square footage information come from?  Multiple sources, which are all designed to provide the buyer with the accurate information a buyer needs before making an offer.

Most Realtors obtain the information regarding the size and square footage of a home from the city/county records available on-line by said governmental departments.  We live in a digital age, where in almost all cases, this information has been made public from the building permits for any particular home.  Title companies have this information as well, but susally the title companies are only passing on the information they too have obtained from the city/county.

Can this information be incorrect?  Absolutely.  Let’s be fair here…most of the time, the information provided by the city/county is accurate, but they can make mistakes.  Common sense will prevail if the listed size of the home in the records is, for example, 3000 square feet, but it’s obvious that the actual home is only 1,000 feet!   Even a real estate novice can see that variance.  But if the home is listed at 1,600 feet, and is actually only 1,550 feet, then very few can see this difference.

So then what?

Well, the next source of the true size is an appraisal…and if the buyer is purchasing the home with a loan from any bank or mortgage company, then there will be an appraisal involved.  Appraisers are the qualified professionals who CAN  measure a home, and when they make the appraisal, they measure the home, and then provide a drawing of the home.  This drawing will show all the exterior walls, many times the interior walls, and give both the actual measurements and the total square footage of the home.  Therefore, the appraisal will hopefully verify the information that is already in the public records.

You can also use any original brochures given by the new builder of a house, assuming the seller still has them from when the home was new.  You have all seen housing brochures when touring a new housing development, and this information is taken from the actual blueprints used to build the home, and therefore are usually pretty accurate.

These are the usual sources for Realtor provided information regarding the size of a home, and they do a good job of keeping everyone on the same page.  As an FYI, most of the Realtors in this industry have seen sellers who “grew” the house after living in it for many years.  By that we mean when a seller bought the home, they knew it was actually, for example, 1,550 feet, but when asked by friends over the years, the common response is “Oh, it’s about 1,600 feet!”  After enough statements like this, then when it comes time to sell, the seller will tell the Realtor the “new” size of the home….and that’s why almost all agents will pull the existing public records to simply protect everyone one from getting the wrong information.  Saves a lot of hassles down the road.

So, in the end, public records will normally get you close, if not right on, and an appraisal will totally verify in the size of the home you are purchasing.  We hope this helps you  if you ever find yourself wondering how the size of a home is determined.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our blog.

Does a Seller HAVE to Replace Toilets, Faucets, etc. with Water Conserving Fixtures?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…Given the new law that just went into effect on January 1, 2017 in California, this is a great question. Let’s explore the answer.

Effective on January 1, 2017, if a home in California was built prior to January 1, 1994, then a new California law now says that the owner must have water conserving toilets, and water conserving shower heads and fixtures.  Obviously, this is in response to the drought of the past few years, and was voted in by our State government.

In the past, whenever the State passed a law of this type, usually the trigger for getting this work done was the sale of the home.  However, not in this case.  For this new law, there is no enforcement mechanism for the home owner to have this work done.  There is no government department who is going to knock on your door to see if it is done, no “selling the home” mandate for the work to be done, and no penalty (at this time) if the work is not completed by the home owner.  In essence, the State has passed a law that relies solely on the owner of the home to comply.

Why is this important?

Because there are some plumbing companies now out in the public scaring home owners about needing to do all this work or they are in violation of the law…and getting all this work done is expensive!  We are all for water conservation, but we don’t like scare tactics being used in order to drum-up work.  Our assumption is the reason the State government had no enforcement mechanism is precisely because of the expense, and instead is leaving it up to each individual home owner.

But what happens when the home owner wants to sell the house…do the plumbing upgrades need to be done then?  Not necessarily.  At that point, the seller’s obligation is merely to disclose the the prospective buyer that the water conserving upgrades have not been done…and if this is OK with the buyer, then it’s no problem.  Some buyers may insist the upgrades be done by the seller, and some may not be to concerned about it.  Every buyer is different.  What is important here is that the seller needs to DISCLOSE to the buyer, but not necessarily UPGRADE to comply with the law.

In the end, compliance is left to each home owner, or to the buyer and seller in a sale of the property, and all home owners should be aware of this so they are not “talked into” spending a lot of money when it may not be necessary.  As a home owner, we want you to know your options.

Thanks for reading, and be sure to let us know if you have any real estate questions we can answer on our blog.

Real Estate Thoughts for 2017

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…As we roll into a New Year, many of our clients want to know our opinion about what they can expect with regards to housing in our local Riverside area.  The saying goes that all politics are local, and the same can be said for real estate as well.  So…while we hesitate to venture into the world of predictions, what we can do is give you the benefit of our 32 years of selling real estate in Riverside, and answer for you the 3 most often asked questions regarding what to expect in 2017.

Interest rates have gone up a little…will this affect the real estate market?  The short answer is “not really.”  Don’t get us wrong, everyone wants rates as low as possible, but we need to get “real” here.  Rates have risen a tick from the 3 7/8 range to about 4 1/2, but that marginal amount is not going to keep any buyer from purchasing a home.  Yes, there will probably be a very small window while buyers react to a slightly higher payment, but in the end, 30 year fixed rates in the low 4’s are the kind of interest rates that we all would have begged for just 5-6 years ago.  Interest rates go in cycles, but there is nothing on the horizon we can see that indicates rates are going to any level we need to worry about.  Buyers may wind up purchasing a slightly lower priced home, but these rate changes will not stop anyone who wants to buy a home from doing so.  Therefore, we see the number of home sales remaining steady.

As an FYI issue, please understand that the recent Fed rate hike of ¼% will have almost no effect on 30 year home loan rates.  The Fed rate is what banks are charged to borrow money from each other overnight, only affects short term rates, and had already been factored into the rise noted above.

We hear a lot about “affordability.”  Can buyers still afford to buy a home?  Here, the answer is a profound “yes.”  Don’t forget that the average home in Orange County costs approximately $330,000 more than the average home in Riverside.   This is an enormous difference, and is a huge benefit to housing in our area.  More and more people can now work from home (meaning no commute), and with this type of flexibility in job criteria, it only helps bring buyers to our area…an area they can afford.  Sure, as we said above, no one wants higher house payments, but since our Riverside area shines so much brighter on the affordability scale than our neighbors in Orange and Los Angeles County, we have a long way to go before affordability becomes a factor in housing sales.  Also, rumor has it that the 91 freeway will actually be totally open one day, so there is always that minor miracle to help us as well!

What do you see in 2017 for housing appreciation in our Riverside area?  Well, we are headed into the “tea leaves” area here, but our feeling is that if you liked 2016, then you should be very comfortable with 2017.  The rise in interest rates will probably have a tendency to slow appreciation rates just a little, but nothing to worry about.  Remember, when you hear an appreciation number from any source, it has very little bearing on your particular property…there are just too many variables.  Discrepancies in home amenities, property location, price range, home size etc. make a generalized appreciation rate almost meaningless for obtaining a value for your home.

However, if you use quoted appreciation rates as a simple barometer on how the market in general is doing, then you are fine…and given all the above, we are looking for home appreciation rates to be in the 4% range for 2017.  Naturally, should the world fall apart and things run amok, then all bets are off…but if we can avoid a major catastrophe, then we should see a very solid, very steady housing market in our Riverside area in the New Year ahead.

We hope this information proves helpful to you in whatever plans you may be making for 2017, and naturally, if you need any detailed information about any real estate matter, we are only a phone call away and would be happy to help you in any way possible.

Happy New Year, and let’s all hope for a banner 2017.

Buyer’s Final Home Walk-Thru…What’s The Purpose?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…One of our buyers asked us this question this week, and we thought any potential buyer of a home should know the answer…so here we go.

As a buyer, you do a final home walk-thru to verify two things: 1) that any repairs the seller was supposed to make have indeed been made, and 2) to make sure the home is in the same condition as it was when you made your offer.  

Let’s examine these two items a bit further.

All agents should recommend a home inspection by a professional, and if as a result of that report the buyer and seller negotiated any repairs for the seller to perform, then it is essential that the buyer verify said repairs are done.  This needs to be done BEFORE the close of escrow, because if they are not done, the buyer has the leverage of holding off the closing in order to get them done.  Don’t get us wrong…most sellers understand this and make sure the repairs are actually finished, but sometimes sellers get in a hurry, or mean well, or whatever, but the end result is that some of the repairs may NOT be done.  This is why the buyer needs to see for themselves what is (or what is not) done…and if you blow this off and figure all is OK, and then move in and find out the seller didn’t do what they promised, then it just creates a very large hassle to get them done after the closing.  For all you know, the seller is now on their way to Wyoming, and good luck getting them to do a $200 repair.  So…always see for yourself that the work has been finished.

Secondly, as a buyer, you want to make sure that the home is as you first saw it when you made your offer.  You want to verify that the lawns are not dead, the pool is not green, and that the walls were not spray painted by the seller’s 5 year old child!  Again, most of the time, sellers understand all this, but trust us…every Realtor has a horror story about what some seller has done on the way out the door, so it is best to verify a few days prior to close.  Again, your leverage is delaying the close and keeping the seller from getting any money until you are satisfied with the condition of the home.

However…please understand that the final walk-thru is not for you, as a buyer, to re-negotiate the contract, or for you to call out repairs that were never part of the original repair negotiations.  For example, if one of the bedroom windows had a crack when you made your offer, and it was noted in the inspection, and you never brought it up for repair, then 3-4 days prior to the close is not the time to address the window.  You had your chance when the home inspection report was issued, and now it’s too late to spring this on the seller.  In fact, the Standard Purchase Agreement addresses this issue of a final verification of condition (#15, page 7), and makes this all very clear for all parties.

In the end, all anyone wants is for both parties to be completely satisfied with the purchase and closing of the home…but sometimes it’s prudent to just make sure everyone does what they said they would do.  After all, the saying goes….”Good fences make good neighbors”, and we can adapt that to “Good repairs make for a good sale!”

Take care, thanks for reading, and Happy New Year.

 

How Long Can The Seller Stay in The House After Escrow Closes?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…What a great question posed to us by one of our on-line readers.  Just how long can a seller stay in a home after the escrow closes?

The short answer is…as long as the buyer let’s him.  Now…let’s clarify this a little.

Standard procedure in our business is that the seller normally gets the date of close of escrow plus 3 days to move out.  This means that if escrow closes on Monday, then the seller gets Monday (the day escrow closes) plus Tuesday, Wednesday, and must vacate by Thursday at 6:00 PM.  This is not set in stone, nor is it a law, but it is the customary procedure for the sale of a home.  The reason this is done is that most sellers simply do not want to move out of the home before it actually closes.  Things can go wrong even at the last minute, and the seller does not want to have moved everything out in the horrible event that the buyer fails to close at the last minute.

When the above policy is followed, then there is normally no charge to the seller for the 3 day delay in the buyer gaining occupancy of the home.  It is a courtesy extended to the seller, and allows for the seller to know for sure that all is well, the escrow is closed, and the seller’s money is coming in a day or so.

Can this policy be different…or extended…or be shorter or longer?

Of course, but this is best done at the time of the offer, and as long as both buyer and seller agree, almost anything can be done.  The seller could agree to be moved out on the actual day of closing (rare, but it can be done), and the seller can also ask to stay in the home for longer than the standard 3 days….5 days, 7 days…maybe even 30 days.  As long as the buyer agrees, then whatever works for the both of them is pretty much OK.

However, if the seller is to remain in possession longer than the standard 3 days, then it is also normal for the seller to pay some rent to the buyer for this “extra” time.  Usually the amount is simply a daily prorated amount based upon the buyers new payment, including taxes and insurance.  As an example, if the buyers new total payment was $3,000 per month, then the daily rate would be $100 per day ($3,000 divided by 30 days in the month).

If the seller wants to stay any longer than 5 or so days, then there is also more paperwork involved, since you are bordering on the seller becoming a tenant.  The California Association of Realtors has a form for this, and when the seller is remaining in the property for more than 5 days, it is highly recommended that this form be used and signed by both buyer and seller.  By doing this, it greatly reduces any chance for miscommunication between the buyer and seller.

What happens if the seller is not moved out by the time they were supposed to?  Well, that is a legal matter, and while we are not attorney’s, and while this is very rare,  we have found that the police are very helpful if you meet them at the property with all your paperwork.  This usually gets the sellers attention, and solves the problem.  Again, please understand this situation is very rare.

Lastly, once the buyer and seller have agreed to the possession date in the original purchase contract, in most cases, it is very hard to change the possession date as you near the close of escrow.  Sometimes as the closing date nears, the seller feels they need more time to actually move out, but by then, it is our experience that the buyer also has plans set (time off work, moving truck, friends to help, etc.) and extensions are just not possible.  Remember:  in the absence of any new agreement by the buyer and seller, the original time referenced in the purchase contract will control.

Good luck, and we hope this helps you plan your next move and close of escrow. Moving is stressful enough for all parties, and the last thing anyone wants is a conflict over who gets the home when.

Take care, and as always, thanks for reading our real estate blog.

Is The Seller Liable if the Fence is Not on the Boundary Line?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…This query was posed to us this week by a gentleman who having one of our agents assist him in the purchase of a home…and it is a good question.

Is the seller liable if the fence for the home is not on the property boundary line?

In a nutshell, NO…unless they knew it was in the wrong place and didn’t tell you.

In the case of a “normal” development, where the lots are generally of similar size and dimensions, and where a fence exists when the buyer purchases the home, it is reasonable to assume that the existing fence is basically on the property line.  Most fences are initially installed by a professional fence company, and when done so, the company usually measures the lot, and installs the fence accordingly.

Does this mean they can’t be off by inches, or perhaps a foot?  Maybe, but once the fence is installed, in most cases, if there is any issue or doubt about the location, it will be dealt with at that time by the neighbors involved.  Therefore, if a buyer is purchasing this home years later, and the fence has been there for years, it is normal for all parties to think the fence is where it belongs.

Now…if the new buyer moves in, and for some reason gets a survey, and finds the fence off by inches, chances are the fence will just stay there.  There are legal remedies for situations like this if someone really wants to go crazy, but you would need to check with an attorney, because they are extremely complicated.

However, if it is later discovered that the fence is off by a larger margin, and the seller knew about this and simply failed to disclose it to the buyer, then that is a different story.  In this case, the seller will probably have some liability, although if the fence is still only inches off, it might be tough to prove any damages.

The simple rule of thumb is that for properties that have no fencing (large lots, acreage, etc.) the buyer should have the seller locate the corner markers as part of the escrow.  Simply pointing out a tree hundreds of yards away and saying the lot lines are “somewhere near the tree” doesn’t cut it…get the property surveyed.

But if the home is one of many in a housing development, and the fences are already up when you purchase, then our suggestion is to roll with what is there, and not worry about inches etc.

Hope this helps if you are deeply concerned about fences and lot lines.

Should my Real Estate Agent Verify Building Permits?

Westcoe Realtors, Riverside Ca…This was a question posed to us by one of our on-line blog readers…and it seems simple enough.  However, upon further review, like most things, simplicity is not really that easy.  So…to help out anyone else out there who may have the same question, we will do our best to explain.

First, for most companies, the answer to this question is up to the individual office and their policies.  This is not an issue covered by any law, but more of a liability question for most any real estate office to consider.  So…our policy here at Westcoe may not be universal for everyone.  Therefore, if you have a specific issue with a specific agent/office, it’s best to take that up with the office management.

So…that having been said, here is our general answer on whether a real estate agent should verify the building permit status of a home, or any additions to said home.

In a nutshell, NO…an agent should not go down this path for a client…but please read why.

Every agent wants to help their clients with whatever issues the client may have regarding a particular home.  However, in this case, the reluctance comes not from being lazy, or non-responsive, but instead of a necessity to avoid some potential legal issues that can come from pursuing an answer of this type.

Let’s say that a potential buyer wants to know if a room addition for a home they are considering buying has been permitted by the city/county.  This is a very reasonable question, and deserves and answer.  But, here is the rub.  If the buyers agent goes down to the city/county to get this information, or goes on the appropriate website, and gets the wrong information, then the agent becomes liable for said wrong information.

But what if the person at the city/county got the information wrong, and all the agent was doing was passing on to the client the information that later proves to be incorrect?  

Well, in that case, because the agent was the middle-man, and is a real estate professional, the agent becomes liable for the mistake by the city/county…and governmental agencies like this make mistakes all the time!

It doesn’t seem fair, but that is the law.  If we, as real estate professionals, pass on information to a client from another party that proves to be wrong, we become legally liable for the other party’s mistake.

So…now you understand why your real estate professional may be hesitant to get you the answer to your question.  However, all is not lost.  What your agent should do for you is go to the city/county with you, or get on the appropriate website with you, and assist YOU in getting the answer, and explain why.  In other words, we will facilitate you in finding the answer you need, but it must come directly from the appropriate governmental agency without us being in the middle.

This situation also usually applies to any zoning questions a buyer may have as well…same theory applies.

So, in the end, we will make it possible for you to get your answer, we just have to make sure it comes from the mouth of the city/county, and not from ours.

Do we like it this way?  NO…we would rather provide this service for our clients…but in the legal climate of our current world, we really have no other choice.  We hope you understand.