So you are at a listing appointment and you are eagerly presenting all of the wonderful marketing ideas that you have for the property. You are chomping at the bit to get signatures on the listing forms and you just KNOW they love you…..
There is one step that most agents skip in the listing presentation and that is the very delicate conversation about the state of the seller’s mortgage.
Yes, you should pause to discuss the status of their mortgage.
So many people in seemingly plush situations are really in over their heads and behind on bills. It is important that you know if the seller is having trouble making ends meet before you start the marketing of the property.
So now you are glaring at me and asking incredulously, “how in the heck am I supposed to ask THAT?” I hear you, it is a delicate conversation and one that should be handled with a light touch. Perhaps the seller mentioned something that brought up a red flag and you can ask them to elaborate on that, ie: “you mentioned that the taxes were slightly behind, are there any other household bills that might impact the sale of the home?” Often they have said nothing, which is more difficult, but not impossible. My conversations usually go something like this: “As you know, it is important for us to discuss any disclosures or issues that may affect the saleability or marketing strategy of the home. I have a few questions I need to review, is that all right?”
After they say yes, which they always do, I pull out my notepad and take notes as I ask a series of questions including:
1- are the taxes current?
2- are the municipal bills current?
3- are there any defects with the property?
4- are any of the mechanical components not functioning properly?
5- is the mortgage current?
6- are there any leins on the property?
7- are there any easements on the property?
You get the picture.
By burying the difficult question in the midst of a series of reasonable and somewhat easy questions you get them in the mode of responding and it won’t take them by surprise. They will often pause and ask me why I need to know that (although many people just answer easily). When asked I explain that in this current market the status of a mortgage can impact several things, including the ability to sell, at all.
Understanding a seller’s current financial and mortgage position will put you in the driver’s seat. You will know if aggressive pricing is needed to speed the process along, or if you need to consult the lender about the sale. You will be able to counsel the seller about their options and advise them how to best move through the sale if there is financial distress. Remember, our job isn’t to sell houses, it is to advise and counsel buyers and sellers while they buy or sell real estate.