Toxic Land Contract

gosling-1Isn’t it great to have Spring finally here? I see tulips and chives coming alive almost overnight and geese out along the river banks likely starting to nest. Watching those goslings following their mothers around like balls of fuzz with webbed feet always brings out the smiles with me.

After closing on a home today, I spent the rest of my time preparing for later showings. Sometimes I find myself in complete disbelief in how many sellers think their homes are marketable and expect them to sell quickly. If it wasn’t for there being too much deferred maintenance, it was the deep shades of color splashed on the walls. Every home I showed today had strange odors that my buyers even noticed. I sometimes think there’s too many sellers who believe that in giving their homes a quick once over with a broom and plugging in air fresheners all over the house will cause buyers to purchase their homes. I’m sure you can tell I struck out with today’s showings, so it’s back to getting more homes set up for viewings for this week.

Never fully knowing what given buyers will end up purchasing in the beginning, I find after several outings with them along with paying keen attention to their likes and dislikes, I can normally find something that’s about as close to meeting their new home requirements in a relatively short period of time. But, and I say but, there are those few who seem to work at talking themselves out of whatever is about as good as it gets. I simply consider them suffering from a form of chronic buyer anxiety in believing if they do purchase something they like, they’ll then have a ball and chain around their ankles for the next 30 years. I’d never want someone to feel that way, so I attempt to re-assure them that if they purchase something that is safe, sound, and secure and located in a relatively stable market area, the home will sell again for a fair price, and with the rate of inflation the way its been moving, should they hang on to it for say 10 years and stay ahead of the upkeep, they’ll likely even make money on it. Nearly all homes are long term investments and that’s all they are.

I became a little cross with a seller several days ago when he mentioned something about selling his home on contract with a minimal downpayment from a buyer that was likely marginal. I said, “Back in the days when the interest rates were above 10% we would sell a few homes on contract but the buyers usually had to put at least 20% down with a five to seven year balloon. Even then, there were a few who ended up getting forfeited out due to either non-payment or excess damage to the home.” I will never forget one contract sale in particular that went south. The buyers put 20% down and after about a year of making their so-called “improvements” and then getting a divorce and going their separate ways, the deed-holders called and asked me to come and see what those buyers had done to their home. Oh Mercy! They had removed some walls that were load bearing, tore off the charming turn-of-the-century woodwork and replaced it with rough-sawn boards to give it a more “country” look, and finally, they removed all the kitchen cupboard doors and threw them away because they preferred the open shelf look. The owners spent thousands of dollars repairing the home to be sold and fortunately I did finally sell it, but absolutely NOT via another toxic land contract. A great lesson was learned for myself as well as those dear and trusting sellers.

Joe Chodur

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