Have your listings presentations been going like mine lately? I remember when listing appointments were the exact opposite of what they are these days. Today I feel more like a psychologist or at the very least, a financial advisor, trying to help people out of the mess they're in with their homes, mortgages and mental health, since they are all connected.
Today I went to a typical listing appointment in a great neighborhood here in Boca Raton. This client was referred to me from a good friend. I knock on the door, enter, go for a quick tour, we warm up to each other, then sit at the kitchen table to review comps, current listings, and the listing agreement. I like to go over the paperwork and make sure my sellers understand each paragraph, then we both initial and sign. Sounds simple, right? Here's where the 'fun' begins, which is actually sad for so many.
At this point, I'm usually ready to take some great pics, answer any more questions the owner has, make them feel comfortable with the process, pet doggie on the way out and say goodbye. Not today. Nowadays, we have become therapists because of the meltdown in the financial, mortgage, and real estate markets.
My seller asks me point blank if I would lower my commission. I told her that I will be working very hard to sell her home and ask why would she want me to do this for her. She says that because of her two mortgages, there's a possibility that she will not be able to close because the total owed will be more than the sales price. Hmmm, we didn't discuss this on the telephone before my trek out to her home. I still would have prepared in the same way, the only difference being at least I'd know the true score of the mortgages against the home.
The numbers are something like $183K (1st) and $90K (2nd). Homes like this one are selling from $230-255K, in my most humble and professional opinion. We're going to need some help from the bank, I don't think we can overcome the difference even if I were to cut my commission to -0-. "How about a short-sale?" I ask, "if we short-sale your home, then we can pay the banks, get you out with minimal financial damage, an you go on your way." She told me that short-sales were bad for your credit and that she wasn't enthused by this option. "Well", I asked..."have you already tried to modify your loan with the mortgage companies?" She told me that they won't speak with her about modification. When I probed some more, I found out that she was still current on her payments, but will not be for much longer. I told her that she needs to be 3 months behind for the banks to speak with her, but I did not want to suggest she stop paying and give her this delicate advice from me.
I told her that the best thing to do would be to try to modify with an attorney that I could refer to her, and if this doesn't work, to short sell her home. The only other alternative would be foreclosure, I told her. My heart went out to this lady big-time. She was NOT a speculator. She wasn't a flipper. She was a hard working immigrant with kids, single mom, that bought this home in 2003, nowhere near the top of the market. She was stuck and I wanted to help her, even if it meant not listing her home, not earning a commission.
In real estate, nothing is truer than the words, "What goes around, comes around."
Scott Miller, Realty Associates, Boca (sexy) Raton, FL