Real Estate Sales Can Be Impersonal

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            Where’s the buyer? Where’s the seller?  These are questions I often get at the closing table when the client is signing their final sales or purchase documents at the title company.  People are very surprised that the other party isn’t sitting with them at the closing table signing papers at the same time.

            Back in the day when we wrote purchase contracts on bark with bloody arrow tips, Realtors who had written an offer on a property would call the other agent to arrange a time to sit down with them and the sellers to present the offer in person. This helped personalize the process-sellers could ask questions about buyers and agents could feel out ‘the other side’ as to the vibe of the parties doing the deal. Then came mobile phones and fax machines. I remember years ago when Georgia Ball was the broker of The Ramsey Group. I called her one day to tell her I had an offer on one of her properties and asked if I could fax it to her. She said, “We’ll never get one of those machines!”. The Ramsey Group got a fax a few months later as did every other real estate brokerage.

            With modern technology ruling all our lives, it is rare that buyers and sellers meet before, during and after a real estate transaction. Nowadays an offer is written, scanned (faxes kill trees), and emailed to the other agent. Sometimes the agent writing the offer doesn’t call the listing agent, just sends an email of the offer with a loan pre-approval letter attached, and hopes for the best. People just don’t sit down and meet anymore-everything is done virtually.  I did five transactions with another agent a few years back and I never met the agent. All the offers, counter offers, inspection responses, questions were done via email and scans.

            Also know that buyers and sellers often work with two different title companies to close a transaction. In the bark days of contracts there was a rule that the seller always chose the title company. Buyers had problems with that and helped changed the rules of business and laws so that now buyers can work with their own title company and sellers can work with theirs.  The advantage to this is that there are two groups watching to make sure the title reports, deeds and final sale paperwork is done correctly and recorded with the County correctly. The disadvantage to this system of choice is that a transaction may be delayed (in some cases) because so many different parties are involved in the final sale.

            If you’re a buyer and the sellers of the home still live in the home, you can arrange for a final walk through before you sign the closing documents on the transaction. This can be a few days before you sign and it’s a great opportunity to find out: when is garbage day? What time does the mail come? Who are your neighbors? Tell me all the nuances of the home the inspector didn’t mention (like, “Sometimes when it rains a lot this back door sticks”)!