The National Association of REALTORS®’ ad campaign “That’s Who We R” focuses on the difference buyers and sellers experience when they work with a REALTOR®, a member of the association. Choose a REALTOR®, the campaign says, and you’re choosing someone who brings market knowledge and a commitment to ethics.
How are you bringing the ad campaign promise to life in your business? Being able to articulate your story—to explain how you go above and beyond for your clients—can help you win business in a competitive market
Looking for a little inspiration? We recently spoke to four real estate pros, all REALTORS®, who helped clients solve eleventh-hour hurdles on the way to closing.
Quickly Resolving HOA Violations
Everything was sailing along smoothly for Klaus Gonche’s home seller in Weston, Fla. The seller had accepted a good offer and agreed to pay the buyer credits at closing for certain home inspection repairs. The appraisal was complete, and everyone was ready to close. But things took a sharp turn two days before settlement.
“We had a 40-day closing, but the homeowners association dragged their feet until day 38, when they told us that the seller had five outstanding HOA violations,” says Gonche, an agent with Compass in Fort Lauder- dale, Fla.
The violations were related to property maintenance, Gonche says. “One was to touch up the paint on the front exterior of the house, another was to pressure wash the fence ... they were all small things,” he says. “The home was an investment property for the seller, and he hadn’t visited it in a couple years.”
Gonche had dealt with HOA violations in the past, but he never received them so close to the last minute.
“Usually, sellers and I hear back from the HOA in a timely fashion, and we typically have 15 to 20 days to get issues corrected,” he says. “Two days’ notice was ridiculous.”
Ultimately, the sale closed on time. Gonche’s seller was “elated,” he says.
Settling Divorce Disagreements
Divorce can be a minefield for real estate agents.
“With divorcing couples selling a house, it’s a lot of consoling and mediating,” says Denise Supplee, an agent with Long & Foster in Doylestown, Pa. “It’s difficult because you’re representing both people, but there’s a lot of emotion involved.”
Supplee rose to the challenge when a couple butted heads over home inspection repairs. “There were a lot of requests for repairs,” she says. “The husband didn’t want to make a lot of the repairs, but the wife did because she just wanted to be done with everything.”
I had to be very careful, because I couldn’t console one person more than the other.”
Restoring a Basement
Hurricane Ida hit New York’s Sound Shore in Westchester County hard in 2021. “Many homes flooded, even if they were not located in a flood zone,” says Jennifer Reddington, a Compass agent based in Rye, N.Y. One of the flooded homes was a four-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot house that Reddington was getting ready to put on the market.
The house’s basement had five feet of water. “Luckily for my clients, this did not affect their ability to live in the home, but it did require extensive remediation,” Reddington says. She helped the sellers deal with a full remediation, which included removing the water, elevating utilities, hiring a sanitation company to check for mold, replacing windows and footing the bill for a sump pump installation post-closing. Fortunately for the sellers, their home insurance covered the lion’s share of the costs.
The basement was fully repaired by the time Reddington put the property on the market. In fact, “the sellers were actively using the space,” she says. “They had a ping-pong table and a Peloton down there.
“Ultimately, my job became helping buyers and [their] agents understand what happened, why, and what we had done” to fix the issues, Reddington says. Her strategy: full transparency. “I worked especially hard to demonstrate that the sellers and myself were not hiding anything,” she says. Part of doing that involved Reddington arranging for the remediation company to be on standby to answer questions for prospective buyers.
It all paid off: The sellers received a full price offer of $1.595 million.
Dealing With an Appraisal Below Contract
Alejandro Franqui, an agent with Solo Real Estate in Philadelphia, worked with many appraisers in his 17 years in the business. But the appraisal problem he experienced while representing a home seller last January actually surprised him.
The appraisal came in $39,000 below the property’s agreed-upon sale price.
“The appraiser’s valuation was way less than what the house was worth,” Franqui says. He took a close look at the appraisal and noticed a couple of problems. Most notably, the appraiser “gave barely any value to a 900-square-foot backyard,” Franqui says. “In Fishtown, where the house was, that’s a huge backyard, and the actual value, especially during the pandemic, probably added at least $50,000 to the value of the property.” Franqui also felt there were better comps than the properties that the appraiser cited in his report. He reached out to the lender about his concerns.
Best practice note: Agents should share comparables and important data with the appraiser before the appraisal is complete. Communication between the agent and the appraiser is key to a quality appraisal.
The language you use is important. Referring to an appraisal as “low” suggests the desire to reach a particular number, not necessarily the correct one. “Inaccurate”, “misleading” or “not credible” would be convincing and appropriate language to include along with any other factual date or information you provide to back up your concerns over an appraisal. If, after that, you still feel the appraiser missed important data, you or your client can request a reconsideration of value from the lender. This process differs for different types of loans whether it’s for VA or FHA loans, so you should discuss it with your lender in advance. The National Association of REALTORS® has advocated for regulators to improve and to standardize this process.
The lender could have chosen to do nothing, have the appraiser conduct a reconsideration of value, or order a new appraisal. A new appraisal may be warranted, for example, if new data becomes available after the appraisal is complete or if there is a serious issue with the appraiser’s ability to perform the valuation, such as lack of geographic competence or bias. But the ROV and reappraisal processes are not for shopping an appraisal for the desire number, but for amending bona fide issues.
In Franqui's case, a new appraisal was granted. “The lender said they were going to take the second appraisal, no matter what it was,” Franqui says.
With the stakes high, “I went through a ton of comps,” Franqui says. “Within a quarter-mile, there are maybe 10,000 properties, so there was no shortage of homes to look at.” After doing hours of research, Franqui presented to the appraiser what he felt were comparable properties. “The appraiser came back and said the house was actually worth $3,000 more than the contract price,” he says. “He actually used two of the three properties that I sent him as comps. Both the seller and the buyer were happy with the outcome,” Franqui adds.