Dear Ms. Lank: I recently read one of your columns in the paper. R and M.T. wrote that they inherited a property in a different state and wanted to sell it. They were being bothered with correspondences from people they thought wanted to buy the property. I think they would be amazed at how good the Realtors are there.
We’re from Maryland, and our son and daughter still live there. I think the Realtors there are better than the ones where we live.
I know two really great Realtors out there who have bought and sold properties for people in our entire family for years. If your reader wants their names, I would be happy to share them. — Anonymous
Answer: Thanks for writing. I appreciate it. I never put readers in touch with each other, though. It’s too much responsibility.
Years ago my husband, Norm, and I went to Montreal, Canada, to settle his cousin’s estate. He was a reclusive hermit. We only had one day, a Sunday at that, to put this rundown, cluttered home on the market. Norm was an experienced Realtor, but we decided to drive around the neighborhood and call the phone numbers listed on Realtors’ lawn signs.
Three local brokers came over promptly. Two of them gave us standard presentations about how great they were, but the third paid attention to our situation. He suggested about the same asking price the others did, but then he volunteered to take care of all sorts of matters that we wouldn’t be able to take care of living out of town: Did we want him to arrange a cleanup crew for the house and call the post office first thing Monday? Had we found a key to the garage? Did we want to have an estate sale or offer the furniture to a specific charity?
He took the time to explain local procedures and how agents work with notaries. He was a Realtor from heaven. So, we just turned the whole process over to him.
Two weeks later, he phoned to say that he’d found some money in one of the bedside tables in the house. He asked if he could use it to hold a Mass in honor of Norm’s cousin.
It all ended in a smooth closing three months later.
Agent won’t advertise
Dear Edith: I am seeking your opinion on the value of doing print advertising in addition to digital advertising.
My small cottage has a very short selling period. I have expressed concern to my Realtor regarding the urgency, but she refuses to put the listing in the local Real Estate Guide, a 43-page monthly publication that shows color photos of homes. The guide is free and distributed at various locations where people shop.
My Realtor says these publications are “ineffective” and that people only shop online now. I don’t feel she’s taking full advantage of the few opportunities to market my cottage. What do you think?
Answer: I don’t know enough about your local real-estate market to judge, but I can give you some legal information.
First, your agent is obliged (under fiduciary duty) to follow your lawful instructions. I’m not exactly sure how that would apply here, though, taking into account the expense of advertising and the fact that your Realtor says it wouldn’t be particularly productive.
You are legally free to withdraw the listing and give it to another agent. You just have to find another local Realtor who believes in print advertising and is willing to take a transferred listing.
A compromise may be in order. Maybe you can offer to bear half (or all of) the cost of a print ad and make some later adjustment if your property sells — perhaps depending on where the buyer learned about the property.
Dear Edith: We are buying our first home, and our parents say we should not sign a contract until our lawyer has OK’d it. What if we find a house we need to bid on in a hurry? For instance, what if we see it on a Sunday? What’s your advice? — J. and S.W.
Answer: Most of the time lawyers are fine with offers written on standard contracts. To protect yourselves, you can sign a purchase offer and write “Subject to the approval in form of my attorney” above your signature. That way you can make a written offer while reserving the right for your lawyer to object to provisions that don’t protect you. Theoretically, your attorney could even disapprove the whole contract, but that seldom happens.
Most lawyers refuse to give advice on price, by the way, feeling that is outside their field of expertise.