Thursday, June 26, 2008

A Cautionary Tale

This goes out to everyone who unfortunately learn the hard way that "It's not closed until it's closed."

I have a friend who somewhere in upstate New York was selling her beautiful home. It was on the market - 4 bedrooms, 2.5 baths - very lovely in a country setting. One Realtor quoted her well over $300,000 for a list price but she decided that she would use the services of another Realtor who started under $300,000. Pricing is everything.

The house, minimally furnished, languished on the market for 9 months until a buyer made a low offer but they countered to bring up the price a bit. Closing was set for early April.

The day before closing, for reasons still unknown, the buyer called the town's building inspector/code enforcement officer and asked about the fourth bedroom. It was located with a full bath on the third floor of this 1990-built home. The building inspector pulled the files - yes, the contractor who built the home had a Certificate of Occupancy, but there was no mention of a fourth bedroom. Uh oh.

"So really," the buyer drawled, "this is only a three bedroom home."

Double Uh oh.

After discussion about a sprinkler system (cost prohibitive) and a fire escape (ugly) and the attorneys getting involved, the buyer walked away from the deal.

Imagine. All the furniture has been moved out of the house, the rates have gone up, the market has turned south in this town (NOT Skaneateles, by the way) and there's this perfectly good house going back on the market as a three bedroom home after many nail-biting months not selling as a four bedroom home.

The Realtor went back to work and put it on as the three bedroom home it was, with not a bit of staging furniture in sight (all sold, actually) and the home found a buyer within two weeks! Not only was this the perfect buyer, but they paid $9,000 more for the property! Closing went smoothly and all is well as we end our cautionary tale.

Morals of the story:
"It's not closed until it's closed."
If you have gorgeous cherry floors don't cover them up with rugs - staging isn't the answer to everything.
A quasi four bedroom home (think of two flights of stairs to the master bedroom) is beaten every time by a three bedroom home with an incredible third floor bonus room with a full bath. But then, who knew?