During the month of December you may have clients who are ready to break out the New Year’s Eve champagne ahead of time, to celebrate the closing of their real estate transaction. Both buyers and sellers tend to expect smooth sailing, once the contracts are signed, the mortgage is approved, and the miscellaneous details have been successfully ironed-out. Plus they are already in a festive mood for the holidays.
The Importance of Reality Checks
The problem is, as any experienced real estate professional can attest to, that there are countless ways that a closing can be delayed and postponed. That can cause stress and strain, despite the holiday atmosphere, and clients tend to blame their real estate agents when anything goes wrong.
That’s why, in order to protect your own reputation and proactively minimize the possibility of a damaging misunderstanding, you should educate your buyers and sellers ahead of time. If something subsequently does go wrong, your clients will understand and not lay the blame on you, since you already explained how things sometimes happen that are beyond your control.
Why Unexpected Delays May Occur
Clients don’t typically understand how complicated it can be to close a home in December. But if you inform them they’ll appreciate your expertise and your attention to detail – as well as your willingness to teach them how the process works. Start by explaining, for instance, that mortgage companies, closing attorneys, and others involved take extra time off during the holidays – so that naturally slows things down.
There are also many homeowners trying to finalize a closing, a mortgage refinance, or a home equity loan before the last day of the year, because they want the transaction to show up on this year’s tax returns instead of next year’s. Inclement weather often catches people off guard too, since December is typically the first month of the year for ice and snow in most regions. That can result in delays of real estate transactions for a variety of reasons, ranging from power outages and impassable roadways to business closures that impact appraisers, banks, and attorneys.
Proactive Steps to Speed Transactions Along
Another aspect of client education, of course, is preparing buyers and sellers in ways that can accelerate a closing – or at least help eliminate unnecessary snags and obstacles along the way. Many times, for instance, the closing is delayed not because of the Realtor, bank, title company, or closing attorney – but because the customer just isn’t organized and ready.
It’s always wise to give buyers and sellers a typed-out checklist to assist them in gathering needed documents and sticking to a timeline as you help them prepare to close. What tax documents do they need? What about copies of bank statements or payment stubs from employers? Are sellers available to provide access to appraisers, home inspectors, or contractors who need to do negotiated repairs prior to closing? Are all parties involved able to attend the closing, without a schedule conflict? If so, can they sign papers ahead of time or be represented by their attorney at the official closing so that everything proceeds as planned?
If you spell everything out on paper then it makes it very easy to share your knowledge with clients, and it also ensures that they are well-informed. You can reuse the same printouts with every client and transaction, and you can make them a branding and marketing tool as well. The best consumer is one who is educated, and by conveying important information about how closing work and how to ensure that they happen without a hiccup you and all of your clients can have a more stress-free closing – and a happy holiday season.