Florida has suffered from no rain for months, which keeps the Snowbirds happy, but for those of us who live here (most of the year) it's been a long dry spell. So after this long drought, we were pleased to see it rain hard almost all day Thursday and even overnight into Friday morning. And Friday was the day that I had a closing in my own neighborhood between a really nice couple from Maine and a neighbor I had recently come to know as a seller for whom I was the listing agent.
I listed that house about 6 weeks ago, and the market being what it is, I had a showing there nearly every day—sometimes 2 or three showings the same day until a buyer was found. My seller was a bit difficult from the very start, and would not agree to leave the home when there was a showing. He felt that he could answer any question a buyer might ask, and he had no place to go anyway, plus his dog apparently didn't like riding in the car.
Left at home the a barking dog wanted to jump up on every visitor, we did manage to have the dog caged for showings. But my lister, living alone with no one else at home—well, he liked to talk. My opinion was if his dog didn't scare away buyers, he might easily talk a buyer out of buying his house. My own conversations with him always seemed to come around to his getting a deal on this item or that. He would wax eloquently about his conquests on Craig's list, or how he took care of his own pool with acids and chemicals he would be leaving in the garage for the buyers.
It became evident that if the house were going to sell, I could not have him and the dog at home by themselves. And because they wouldn't leave, I would have to accompany any showings and act as a buffer between him and any agent or client who wanted to see the property. This is NOT the way we Realtors would like to run our business, today a real estate agent usually puts a lockbox on the front door, and when a showing is requested, tells the owners to go for a drive, or go shopping (or some similar suggestion) so the house can be shown in peace and quiet.
The electronic keys that we Realtors use unlock the house are smart keys and tell the listing agent which Realtor was the one that accessed the house and at what time of day they went in. About the only thing they don't monitor is how many people came through at the showing. So when a Realtor makes an appointment to see a house, the listing agent knows who is coming and when, and when the electronic key is used, it confirms that agent opened the door and at what time. This provides a good sense of security to home owners and limits the liability a real estate agent would assume if he or she let “just anyone” into a home. But we had no lockbox for this home, or even a key for the Realtor because he was always there.
But again, that was not my biggest problem. My biggest problem was the inability to provide a good showing environment. I would arrive for showings early to be sure the place was straightened up and turn on the lights. My lister would follow me around his house turning off the lights I was turning on. I would move the dog's food and water bowl out of the way to the garage, and part-way though a showing, it would magically be back in the traffic pattern. But it was a nice house, well priced, and soon enough a buyer came forward.
Once the buyer was found, he became worried about the home inspection. “What if they want me to fix things—I'm not going to,” he told me. More Realtor headaches come from this sort of attitude than almost any other. I work hard for my clients, and frankly I want them to do their part. But this seller made this a difficult transaction.
The bad news was the home inspector found a half dozen issues that needed correction, and the seller was good to his word, he wouldn't make the repairs. The good news was the buyers understood that the total expense to make the corrections was minimal and agreed to accept a sofa bed in trade instead of demanding the repairs. So, as they say, “all's well that ends well.”
And back to the rain. Some years ago I was a party to a sale of several churches. The other agent was a Native American, full-blooded Wampanoag Indian, and chief of his tribe. There were many spirits with us the day we closed the transactions with the Methodists and Presbyterians, and it was raining hard with thunder and lighting as we met to finalize the transaction. My Indian friend asked for a moment to “bless” the proceedings, and time was granted by the several ministers and clergy in the room, who normally would have handled this religious aspect but were upstaged that day. My Indian friend went on to ask for blessings on the parties and to say that Native Americans see rain as a blessed omen, it signifies cleansing and rebirth. This week at our closing I was able to take a moment and share the Shaman's thoughts--if not quote his exact words--that luck and good fortune, and a complete cleansing will favor the home and it's new owners.
For the seller, he's starting again too, this time in Delaware, and we all wish him well.
Dane Hahn is a real estate professional practicing in Sarasota and Charlotte counties. He can be reached at 942-681-0312 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. See him on the web at www.danesellsflorida.com