I want to tell you a story about one of my friends, let’s call her Mary. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for Mary. She’s smart, brave, independent, a shrewd business woman, and she doesn’t like relying on anyone for anything. That includes real estate. Which is why, despite our great friendship, Mary made it clear to me that she’d like to take care of her next real estate venture on her own.
That is, until yesterday, when I got a frantic call from Mary. I knew that she had made an offer on a condo, but she had decided to go directly to the listing agent rather than ask for my help. That’s completely fine – this is how Mary rolls. But, yesterday, when she called me, I knew she needed my help.
She told me that was scheduled to close on her new home over the next week but there had been a little bump in the road. The seller of the property had suddenly disclosed that the condo association was planning a large assessment to fix a roof issue that had been on their radar for a while – even discussing it at several condo association meetings.
It’s not clear to me why the seller chose to disclose this just a few days before closing, but what is clear to me is that Mary could have avoided this. If she had asked me to be her buyer’s agent for this purchase from the very beginning, she probably wouldn’t have been in this position at this stage in the game.
The reason why Mary chose to work directly with the listing agent is because she thought it might give her an advantage over the several buyers she was up against. I had explained to Mary many times that the listing agent represents the seller and, as such, will prioritize the seller’s interests over hers, but this was her decision to make.
When Mary submitted her offer she was persuaded by the listing agent to waive her inspection contingency, which is why the roof issue didn’t come up. If I’d been there, I would’ve recommended she ask to see meeting minutes and talk to another owner in the association before signing her P&S. These sorts of things can easily be inserted as contingencies at offer time and, if a seller has nothing to hide, then they don’t necessarily weaken an offer.
Unfortunately, Mary wasn’t advised to do any of this.
So here she was, just a few days before closing, faced with a pretty significant issue. And she felt like she couldn’t ask the listing agent for advice, not because she didn’t trust him, but because she understood that he represented the seller.
No matter the decisions Mary had made leading up to this moment, I knew I wanted to help however I could. I talked the situation through with her and gave her a few suggestions for how to resolve the issue, what information she could request, and what questions she could ask. I think she understood that I couldn’t really become too involved since I wasn’t an official party in the transaction. But I am certain that this gave her a better understanding of the value of a buyer’s agent and I know our friendship has taken a new turn since this experience.