Tag Archives: release of contingencies

Do I get a Mulligan?

Last week we were musing about Buyers Remorse. That torturous aspect of real estate that seems to take great pleasure in showing up like an unwanted guest in the middle of so many escrows.

I’m sure we Realtors use the phrase too much. Extend the fragile umbrella of its meaning too far into the twisting wind. But what else can we call “it”?

There has to be some way to talk about those clandestine meetings that arise in our clients’ heads when they’re navigating something as huge as buying a house. Not to mention all the other major life transitions that come along part and parcel with their shifts in home-ness.

There’s got to be some common term for the cascade effect that occurs when people’s worry centers start throwing “What-Ifs” wildly up into the air like ping- pong balls in the lotto game of life.

There has to be some language that captures those scary moments when buyer emotions ratchet up because real life is suddenly on the verge of becoming more real. When dreaming and talking get squeezed by events into the necessity of actually doing and deciding.

Swells of commitment approaching. Rogue waves that can’t be taken back. Tides of inevitability rushing past warning buoys towards a bridge too far and the tipping point of no return. Offer to Negotiation to Acceptance to Deposit to Inspections to Release of Contingencies to Sign-Off to Close.

Yikes! OMG! What if I make a mistake? Will God give me a mulligan?

Yep. Buyers Remorse – a staple of real estate. A dish found hanging around the table whenever the heat gets turned up in the kitchen and the escrow pot starts boiling. A daily special cooked and served up in all kinds of strange and interesting ways. Steamed. Grilled. Poached. And definitely fried.

Funny, the more ways Buyers Remorse gets prepared. the more unprepared I seem to be when it rears its all-too human head. Call it an occupational hazard – the spectre of escrow-interruptus still lurks like a shadow around every corner.

Somehow, I’ve managed to stay sane and adjust my own frame of reference over time. Here’s an analogy that makes it all make more sense – at least to me.

Close your eyes. Let your imagination drift back to college. A memorable Friday night. Alone at the local watering hole having a few beers. Looking across the room. Making eye contact . Love at first sight. Brain chemicals racing to the heart. Fireworks exploding. And in some fashion (appropriate to a family newspaper) a magical weekend spent with your new-found desire.

Then….Monday morning comes. The alarm goes off. The real world calls. You return to that other life – where the rest of you starts to question the whole experience.

Now fast forward to real estate land. Look at how the process is designed. No wonder it scares the hell out of just about everyone.

Buyers fall in love with houses. Get swept up in emotion. Make offers that are accepted. So far so good.

But happens next? They hire the equivalent of several private detectives in the form of Home Inspectors and Termite Guys to come and tell them everything that could possibly be wrong with the thing they just fell in love with. They pay people money to test their resolve and break the bonds of emotion captivating them.

At the same time their Agent hands them thick dossiers of information about all the secret things about homes that could harm them. Asbestos. Radon Gas. Lead Based Paint. Floods. Earthquakes. Who knew there were this many horsemen of the apocalypse?

Buyers Remorse isn’t some awful aberration of the psyche. It is something that’s infinitely normal. Is there any buyer on the planet that doesn’t wake up at least once during the course of escrow plagued by tremors of doubt and at least the mild choking sensation of existential terror? If so, then they must be living life as an automaton, without benefit of the normal emotional chip the rest of us were born with.



Chestnut Roasting

Good old Buyer’s Remorse. A dog-eared catchphrase in the well-worn lexicon of real estate. One of it’s grand old chestnuts.

Oft-experienced. Oft-invoked. Buyer’s Remorse is the staple we trot out of the stable when we don’t have other words to describe unstable weather (or whether not) conditions inside a troubled buyer’s head.

Deep down “there.” In the dark corners of the mysteriously thick skulls we all possess. Where rational layers of neo-cortex rub up against a Pandora’s Box full of inner demons residing in the lowly, sub-cortical regions of the brain. Tiny bottomless pits of adrenalin, emotion, survival instincts and ancient, hair-trigger, fright-and-flight mechanisms ready to go off at a nanosecond’s notice.

Moribund tales of Buyers Remorse abound. Every Realtor has their share. Etched indelibly onto the casualty rolls of hard to forget, crash and burn transactions. Decimated deals. Escrows that flew south when terror attacks came in the middle of the night. Skittish clients spooked and bolting out of their comfort zone. As the song says: Remorse is remorse of course of course. And no one can talk to remorse of course. Except maybe a house whisperer named Ed.

There’s the story about the offer that went along just fine until it came time to actually sign it. Or worse…write the deposit check. The one about the multiple offer situation where all ten would-be buyers panicked and ended up scattering to the winds. The one about the serial buyers who kept buying a new house every year thinking the next one was really going to fix their lives. The one about the buyer who was just as anxiety-ridden at the thought of getting the house as he was about not getting the house. Hundreds of stories about poor first-time buyers who turned tail and ran as soon as they got a gander at their first home inspection. And thousands more.

Suffice to say no one is immune. Buyers are only human. We all have boogey-men hiding in our closets. What better time to take them out for a stroll than in the middle of buying a home?

In the old days Buyer’s Remorse seemed simpler. More straight-forward. It usually camped out at the far end of the regret spectrum. Where there was no going back. Right after Close of Escrow (COE). When the Dirty Deed was already done.

My made up Latin name for this familiar garden-variety is Post-Rigor-Remorsus.

Buyers act diligently. Move steadily through escrow. Cross T’s. Dot I’s. Rigorously attend to each detail along the way. But some put their heads down a little too far. Focus so intently on small things, they don’t notice their own shadows following them. Walking like dopplegangers in their own shoes.

This kind of double-trouble lies in wait until the dust settles. When those powerful, brain-produced, mind-altering drugs linked to anticipation and excitement have vanished. Reality doesn’t always live up to realty’s staging. Be careful what you wish for…the saying goes. The other you just might get it.

What do Buyers do if post-rigor-remorsus strikes? One of three things: a) Kick their own butts unmercifully. Don hairshirts of self-blame for eternity. 2) Go through their inner rolodex and find someone else to blame. Or better yet, find everyone else to blame. 3) Move on. Get back to the bigger picture. Nothing is ever as perfect as imagined. Dream homes included.

These days more people are showing signs of Early-Onset, Pre-Remorsus-Remorsus. It won’t be listed in the upcoming fifth edition of the DSM due out next year – but it’s becoming endemic. Increasing numbers of Buyers are regretting all the regrets they might succumb to long before they’ve ever had a chance to get there and start regretting where they are at. More on this next week.

And after that? Seller’s Remorse…the other dark meat.


Extra Innings with Yogi

I’m wracking my brain. Looking for one simple word or expression that comes close, within a few million miles or so, to explaining this…this…thing to you.

This thing Realtors know painfully well but can’t quite describe.  This thing anyone who has recently bought or sold a house knows but probably wants to forget as quickly as their burned-out neurons will let them.

This odd place real estate has stumbled into.  This strange dream it has woken up in. This brave new world that gets more scary all the time.  Some kind of chaotic force or unintelligible intelligence has hijacked real estate. An uncaring non-process has abducted the process and won’t let it go. Or flow.

I don’t mean one transaction. I mean all of them. The whole kit and kaboodle. Sucked into the same wormhole that grabs socks between the time they go into the washer and are supposed to come out clean and smooth from the dryer.

Welcome to escrow ladies and gentlemen. The new and unimproved version. A discombobulated dimension of realty where transactions don’t exactly go to die in – just get stuck in and drag on, in a bone-numbing, jaw-dropping, eye-rolling torturous drip of endless delay-without-closure.

What do we call this period between when escrows are supposed to close and when they sorta, kinda should close, if we are lucky, for reasons we may or may not ever understand? We better find a word for it. It’s the rule now rather than the exception.  And these interminable intermezzos are taking up incredible amounts of energy. Drowning our professional souls.

Escrow bardo? The never-ending denouement? Purgatory? FUBAR? The twilight zone? Extra innings? Overtime?  Real estate held hostage. Day 382.  We’re in a sudden death play-off game that isn’t very fun.

Honest.  The old notion of Close of Escrow (COE in Realtor-speak) was something you could pretty much depend on. It wasn’t liquid. Or gas. It was a solid you held in your head.

There was a contract. The buyer and seller signed it. A point was picked on the horizon. Wheels were put into motion that would eventually converge in time and space. And voila – the deed would record and money would change hands. The buyer of the house became a buyer. And the seller, a seller.  All, more or less, proscribed in the timeframe known as COE.

Now COE has become something completely fuzzy and amorphous. It is a moving target. Constantly moving backwards in time that is. When will a particular escrow really close? That’s anybody’s guess. And I mean anybody.

Realtors are just trying to have a real estate market here.  The escrow officers, appraisers and loan brokers are on board. Doing their part. What happened?

Didn’t that seedy underbelly of the beast known as underwriting get the memo? Or they got the memo but lost it?  Or they got the memo, but the “team” lost it’s jobs last week? And we have to send another memo to the new team? Or they got that memo but we need to verify that we’ve insured the memo for the third time? (Is that the same as insuring the insuring of the insurance?)  Or we have to certify in a separate memo that it was really us that sent the first memo that is now lost? And that needs to be a non-faxed, non-scanned memo with wet signatures delivered in person on bended knees? Handed to the processor who will move it along to the closer who will run it by the committee who will assign it to the great decider-er for a really quick turnaround?

Folks, the system is in the throes of a grand mal. It affects the entire brain of real estate.  I’d love to explain it to you but I’m waiting for someone to explain it to me first.

In the meantime all I can do summon the wisdom of Yogi Berra, the man known as Mr. Malaprop,  for answers to the avalanche of malaproperty-isms we are experiencing. Yogiisms are just about the only things that do make sense in this impasse of an escrow juxtaposed between now and the future.

Try this one: “The future ain’t what it used to be.” Or: “If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.”  And… If you are in the middle of an escrow that isn’t closing:. “It ain’t over till it’s over.”

Me? I’m sticking with this one:   “I wish I had an answer to that because I’m tired of answering the question.”