In June 2009, I wrote an article titled “How to Hit a Home Run.” At that time, I was struck with the similarities between the game of baseball and buying a house, and what a perfect topic to revisit for this issue of Attorney at Law Magazine. Now, the World Series looms, and the process of buying or selling a home has become a whole new ballgame. But much of what I wrote is still true – even more so, with the changing climate in our real estate/financial world.
Sometimes, the changes feel like a fast ball whizzing past at lightning speed, and only a seasoned pro can be adept enough to decide whether or not to swing. As before, in the real estate/mortgage game you can’t win by yourself – you need a great team. In addition, the more you understand the rules, the better you play. Finally, there are four potential steps to getting to home plate. In baseball those are called bases, but in the home-buying game first base is finding the home, second base is negotiating the deal, third base is obtaining the financing, and the closing is the home run. At any point along the way, “game over” is a possibility if you can’t successfully get around the bases. Following is an outline of how, in today’s market, each component can affect the “end game.”
Whether buying, selling or refinancing, it is more important than ever to organize a good team. There are many steps to the process, requiring a series of professionals who will work together to reach home, including a Realtor, a mortgage broker, a CPA, a financial planner, an inspector, an appraiser, a contractor, an interior designer, and, of course, an attorney.
First Base / Finding the Home
With the recent onslaught of consumer websites it has become increasingly easy to browse through hundreds of homes online. Unfortunately, many of these websites hold incomplete, inaccurate and outdated information. As a Realtor, it’s my job to ask a lot of questions and sift through the sea of available homes in order to reduce the frustration and stress for my customers. As a knowledgeable Realtor, I will explain the process and guide my clients through the potential pitfalls of purchasing or selling a home. It is essential to have a good coach/ Realtor on the team to advise clients and help them get to home base.
Second Base / Negotiating the Deal
Whether buying or selling, this means much more than agreeing on a price. It is important to understand the contract and its deadlines, the closing costs, and the future carrying costs of the home. With all of the short sales and bank owned properties out there, it is important to understand the parameters of the deal, the special contracts used, and the potential obligations and liabilities of these types of sales. The Realtor and the real estate attorney become important players in anticipating potential problems later in the game.
Third Base / Obtaining the Financing
The deal has been negotiated; bases are loaded. In the past, the main concern was getting the best interest rate. Because of the recent changes in mortgage financing, the stakes have become much higher. Currently, if there are problems with credit score, income documentation or the appraisal of the home, the entire deal might be lost. If they are not handled by a top-notch mortgage professional who fully understands the potential plays, the whole game could be lost.
Home Base / the Closing
Bases are loaded, the final pitch is thrown, and now it is time to hit the ball out of the park. It is no longer merely about reviewing closing documents. In foreclosure sales, it is not uncommon for a sale to be delayed or canceled due to issues with the title. The same goes for details between the seller and a former lender in short sales. The attorney needs to troubleshoot many issues, such as clouds on the title (liens, back taxes or HOA dues, set-backs or easements, open permits, etc.).They also need to coordinate with the lender, review the HUD for errors, and ensure that the funding arrived and that all items are properly paid. All these are just some of the reasons why I always have an experienced attorney on my team.
To recap, there is hard work that leads up to the moment the keys are handed over. A solid team will ensure that the game doesn’t turn into an upset. I have worked hard to create my winning team, ensuring that each deal ends with cheering all the way home. Laurie Dubow