This is an open letter to buyers of homes in
Sequim and Port Angeles.
You are a member of the elite right now, at least in this market. You are the qualified buyer with good credit and funds for a down payment to buy a house. You know what you want, and you know what your maximum price is. You’re intelligent, and this is not the first time you’ve bought a home. You’ve had a successful career, and some of you are finishing your second career. You use the Internet to filter through your options, and you ultimately decide to work with a Realtor. After all, he knows the area and can answer a lot of specific questions, and as an exclusive buyer’s agent, he doesn’t cost you a single dollar.
Many buyers are making mistakes in this market. Don’t be one of them. What kind of mistakes are buyers making?
Overpaying is one. Of course, if you close on a house, you may never know if you overpaid. The issue I want to focus on in this article is more prevalent. The more common mistake is to assume that you know more than you do about a particular real estate legal issue that comes up during an inspection, and you kill a transaction for what you think was a valid reason, but it really was not. This is unfortunate for the seller, of course, but it is a serious mistake for you as a buyer, because you had what you sought in the palm of your hand, and your walked away for all the wrong reasons. I’ll share two real life examples.
First, a buyer can get confused over a home inspection or a mold inspection. I recently had a buyer back out of a transaction because she thought the mold inspection report indicated the house was dangerous to live in. In fact, the house was given the highest compliment from the Seattle mold expert. The expert told me, “This was one of the cleanest houses I have ever inspected. There was absolutely no mold problem.” It was the expert’s seemingly insignificant words upon which the buyer based her sincere request to terminate the transaction. The expert’s report indicated the air quality inside the home had a higher humidity level than it should, although she acknowledged that was probably because no one had lived in the house for months and that the windows and doors had been closed. Her recommendation in the report was simply to put a dehumidifier in the home for one week. Period. End of issue. Of course, we live in a humid climate, so every home here would have approximately the same humidity level.
Unfortunately, the buyer seized upon these words in the report, and convinced herself that the home was too dangerous to live in, and she mistakenly believed that the complex data in the report indicated levels of contaminants way too high for human consumption. None of that was true, and I discussed this at length with the expert who explained that the home was one of the cleanest and safest homes she had ever seen. But the buyer assumed she knew something none of the rest of us knew, and I am certain she sincerely thought she was right. She walked away from a home and property she originally explained was perfect, and after negotiating an incredibly low price. Everyone suffers when a mistake like this is made. To this day, that buyer probably assumes that she was right.
The second real life example involves easements. This comes up much more often than you might think. I’ve seen this issue dozens of times in real estate transactions during my career. An easement for utilities and for ingress and egress is common, and many larger parcels (2.5 acres or more) will have an easement running along one of the lot boundaries to another lot or lots. No big deal. Very common. A buyer can discover an easement exists during the inspection or when a survey is reviewed with the preliminary title report. While most buyers say, “Oh, right. Okay, that’s fine. We’re building our house hundreds of yards from the easement. It doesn’t effect where we want to build anything, and it doesn’t interfere with our use of the property at all. Fine.”
But a buyer who does not understand easements may get very worried and interpret the meaning of the easement completely out of proportion. It’s as though they start to believe the Pike jerking the fishing pole must be a shark, that the boat is going to sink, and we are all going to die. Again, let me affirm that all of these buyers are sincere and intelligent people. They just assume they know and understand an issue they really do not, so they kill the transaction. It really was their ideal property, but they got side tracked. Although they may never understand this, the reality is that they sabotaged their own transaction. They found exactly what they were looking for, and they killed it.
I would urge you as a buyer to inquire on all issues, but to listen to the professional you hired. Do your due diligence, and if you need to, get a second opinion. But get a second opionion from a professional, and not a friend or someone else who becomes an expert on the spot. Be discerning. Be intelligent. Be wise. But don’t make the common mistake some buyers make by assuming they know something they do not, and becoming their own worst enemy by sabataging their own goal.
Very truly yours,
Last Updated on October 12, 2008 by Chuck Marunde