So it goes – as Kurt Vonnegut might say. A phrase meaning nothing and summing up everything at the same time. A continuing state of affairs. Resigned status quo. Sad lack of meaning and resolution. Profound inability to close the chapter and say: “Our work here is finished.”
A recent conversation I had with clients keeps sticking in my head. Banging around in there like a bad meme from a McDonalds TV commercial – circa anytime in the last 30 years. Have it my way – indeed. Special orders don’t upset us – indeed. Let’s all grab a happy meal and buy the world a coke shall we?
We were sitting around the kitchen table of a nice home they were buying and the conversation went something like this:
Clients: Now that we’re releasing inspection contingencies we’ll be able to close before the end of the month right?
Me: It all looks positive but let’s just take it one step at a time.
Clients: The Sellers can’t back out can they?
Me: No, not to worry. They’re locked in at this point. Sellers don’t have the same kinds of contingencies Buyers do. We haven’t gotten the appraisal yet.
Clients: When does that happen? We paid for it.
Me: I’m waiting for the appraiser to call for access. Hopefully it’ll be soon since we’re supposed to have loan approval in another 10 days.
Clients: What’s taking so long? When we bought our last house we closed in three weeks.
Me: Yep. But that was then. This is now. The whole system has changed in ways I’m not sure I can describe. There’s no there there. I’m not sure anyone understands it completely.
Clients: Can’t you just call the appraiser and set it up?
Me: No. I don’t get to call them. They call us.
Clients: Should we call our loan person?
Me: Nope. He doesn’t get to talk to them at all – especially him.
Clients: Who knows then?
Me: No one knows who the appraiser is or will be right now. We have to wait till this new thing called an appraisal management company finds an appraiser to accept the assignment on the property – for whatever amount of compensation that’s being offered. We’re at the mercy of the system.
Clients: But we paid $450 already!
Me: Yep. But not all of that money actually goes to the appraiser. The middle man gets a cut. Sometimes they can’t find an appraiser willing to take the job for what they’re paying.
Clients: But why is it taking so long? We want to move in before Labor Day.
Me: The system is overwhelmed. There are fewer appraisers. Appraisals are harder to do. Appraisers know their work is being scrutinized up the wazoo and they don’t like the tough ones. There’s a refi boom going on. A lot of experienced appraisers have retired. The ones that are left are working harder for less money.
Clients: Don’t they just come out and measure? Look at a few sales? Compute the value?
Me: If only it were so simple. It seems like every appraisal is an epic struggle these days. There are fewer sales to compare to. And a lot of those are short sales and REOs that usually sell for less and pull prices down.
Clients: But there were four offers on this place. It went for more than asking. Doesn’t that make it automatic?
Me: No. That’s what makes it harder. The price got pushed up.
Clients: But we’ve looked at tons of places. We’re happy. It’s our appraisal.
Me: Well. Not quite. It’s the bank’s appraisal. It has to be happy with what it’s lending – not just with what you agreed to pay.
And so it goes. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum. Stay tuned for the next week’s exciting conclusion of “as the world of real estate turns”. We’ll continue looking for the there that’s not there. Like sands in the hourglass, so go the days of our escrows.