In the Trenches: Keeping Bumpy Closings on Track

When antics by clients, or their children, threaten to derail a sale, agents can bring a calming effect.
kids pressing all elevator buttons

© Steve Musgrave

Going Up?

I was leading my clients through a final walkthrough of the home they bought, a beautiful three-level, 4,200-square-foot property with an elevator. It was the first time the buyers’ three children, ages 4 to 9, had seen the home, and they were running around the pool, picking their bedrooms, and trying out the elevator. They insisted on operating the elevator themselves, telling their mom they’d meet her upstairs. The buyers and I took the stairs and waited for the kids to arrive.

When they didn’t arrive a few minutes later, we started laughing, thinking they had stopped on the wrong floor. Then we heard them screaming. The elevator had gotten stuck -between floors. It turns out the children had pushed all the buttons in the elevator and tripped a safety switch. The mother was in a panic, threatening to cancel the sale and dialing 911. I asked the kids to calm down while we figured out what to do. Luckily, after a few minutes, the elevator reset, returned to the first floor, and freed the kids. After they reunited with mom, I calmed everyone down with simple reminders about how to use the elevator—including never to push all the buttons. With the moment of anxiety behind us, we went to closing. The kids, fortunately, never got stuck again.—Mark McNitt, ABR, Bernstein Realty, Houston

A Fateful Closing

When I was an agent in central Ohio, I represented a couple in their 70s who owned a beauty shop in an area that was experiencing fast growth. The property included 5 1/2 acres of commercially zoned land, along with 400 feet of frontage on what had become a busy street. I helped them decide to sell the property to a local developer for $2.3 million.

All contingencies were cleared, but then came a hitch no one could have anticipated: My clients showed up half an hour late to the closing in attire that was, well, unforgettable. The woman wore a bright yellow mini skirt, a see-through top, and a large purple hat, while her husband had on tight shorts and a crop top. The woman walked silently around the table with her arms outstretched and then left the room. I was as confused as the lender, real estate attorneys, title agent, and buyers at the closing table, witnessing this scene.

After speaking with them, my sellers’ attorney said the couple was canceling the closing because the woman felt the aura in the room wasn’t right. The buyer’s attorney threatened to sue. So I left and met my clients at the beauty shop, laying out what would happen if they failed to close. They consulted with their attorney, and the next day, they agreed to close—but not before the wife did one last circle around the table. This time, she said, the aura was fine.—Stephen Falor, Watson Realty Corp., Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

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