Risk Associated with Selecting Third Party Vendors

By Dan Harkey

Where does risks begin in commercial real estate lending business?  It begins with your process of hiring highly competent third-party vendors.  Your job is to assemble the most qualified real estate support professionals to eliminate costly mistakes and to ensure the best quality closing.

This includes service providers who originate new loans, process, underwrite, appraise, and eventually close the transaction. This sounds like a broad statement since the process also requires your participation in marketing, to procure the transaction.   Your competency is displayed throughout the process by understanding the borrower’s wants and needs, the loan programs and requirements, property types and characteristics, underwriting skills, geographic locational differences, government regulations, and then hiring professional service providers to match.

  1. Appraiser(s)

It is your responsibility is to identify a well-qualified, licensed, and insured appraiser who is familiar with the geographic location and property type, and various methods of valuation. Hire someone who follows the requirements of Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP). USPAP can be considered to be the quality control standards applicable for analysis and reports for appraisal of real property, personal property, intangible assets and business valuations in the United States and its territories.  A state licensed appraiser must adhere to USPAP standards.  USPAP provides the body of knowledge and performance standards for the appraisal process as authorized by the US Congress (this was part of FIRREA in the early 1990’s and arose from the Bernard Amendment). As noted above, this legislation contains standards for all types of appraisal services, including real and personal property, business enterprises.  It is reviewed annually and revised and updated every two years.  The Real Estate Broker/Mortgage Loan Broker must establish that the appraiser is qualified by license and specific certification to accept the assignment and must be sure the appraiser is state licensed for the type of required appraisal.   This is a mandate by the Bureau of Real Estate Appraisers in California and their equivalent in all states and required in California pursuant to Business and Professions Code Section 10232.6.  In most cases the appraiser must also be approved by or acceptable to the lending source.

The first document you will use is an “order form”, which will document the type of appraisal, by whom and when the appraisal will be paid and “what parties rely on the appraisal”.  If you, as a mortgage broker/lender, are acting as an agent on behalf of private investors/lenders who intend to fund the loan, or you intend to sell or assign the loan following funding the loan with our own capital, then the appraiser needs to be informed that the private investors/lenders have a right to rely on the appraisal report.

You must identify all intended users of the appraisal report or you need to specifically direct the appraiser as to whom the report should be addressed.  To comply with appraisal standards and requirements, and depending on property type, the appraiser will typically conduct a rent survey and an absorption study and will additionally research various market rates for additional indicators such as capitalization rates and discount rates to establish market conditions applicable to a subject property.  In appraising the property, the appraiser typically will research market rents for the property type, research market rent trends in general and analyze historical lease-up or absorption rates for the subject property type.  Depending on the type of subject being appraised the appraiser may also need to include personal property value or may find that the appraisal requires a going concern valuation for an operating business wherein there may be additional value elements such as FF&E, good will or intellectual property.

Choosing an appraiser for a federally insured home loan differs.  It is important to note that neither mortgage brokers, loan officers nor homeowners may select the appraiser for the property on which they want to lend/borrow such funds.  At the current time all such appraiser selections and appraisal orders are handled by Appraisal Management Companies (AMC’s).

“Assumptions and Limiting Conditions” are sometimes thought of as the “legalese” or “boilerplate” of appraisal reports. The “assumptions” relate to the concept of scope of work identified in the appraisal process. The appraiser will lay out in writing assumptions such as the correct legal description, that the zoning is correct for the property use and that the information furnished is true and correct. A “limiting condition” is one that limits the use of the appraisal, primarily by specifying the use and intended users of the appraisal report. That is, who may rely on the contents of the report. However, each assumption or condition must be reasonable and supportable in the context of the appraisal, and not conflict with the “Extraordinary Assumptions or Hypothetical Conditions.”

It is important to review the appraisal section, “Extraordinary Assumptions and Hypothetical Conditions”. This means the appraiser has taken some action or used a method that departs from USPAP standards. The appraiser may have made assumptions that could render the appraisal of little or no value by following outside standards. You may find this when the property is zoned incorrectly for the neighborhood or the property’s intended use, or when comparable are extremely difficult to locate. Some examples of extraordinary assumptions may be: whether all entitlements are complete for a construction project, there is adequate absorption for lease up, that the building conforms to zoning and usage ordinances, that the property construction will be completed timely and on budget, and that there are no environmental concerns.  The appraiser may need to invoke certain hypothetical conditions under some directives by the client.

Extraordinary Assumptions are specific assumptions made and utilized in the development of the estimate of value and which, if found to be false, could alter the resulting opinion or conclusion.  Hypothetical Conditions are assumptions made which are known to be contrary to fact, but which are assumed for discussion, analysis or formulation of opinions.

As a final comment, it is important that you read the entire appraisal. There are issues such as the amount of area vacancy, the applicable capitalization rate, and a discussion regarding verification of zoning or permits that you may want to personally verify. These are not always clear in the first reading. For example, the area vacancy and the application of a capitalization approach may be different in Riverside, CA. than in Newport Beach, CA.

  1. Documentation/ Legal Counsel

I have combined these two together for this reason, some lenders farm out their legal documentation preparation to a third party. Since it is the lender who is responsible for state and federally required documentation, a third party legal counsel or knowledgeable consultant is advised.

Commercial lending is sometimes characterized by loaning to entities such as trusts, corporations, limited partnerships, and limited liability companies. There is a required technical understanding of the laws relating to these entity types, and the documentation differences that each will require. There is another matter of the issue of lien priority. Documentation complexity can be compounded when the issues of lien priority and tenancy are added to the mix. Your borrower may own a property in a family limited partnership, occupy the same property as an operating business which is a corporation, and have other unrelated tenants, who may also own their businesses in different forms of entities.

  1. Escrow Companies

All escrow officers are not alike. A competent, experienced, and highly technical escrow officer is a must. Escrow acts as an intermediary and dual agent, between the principal parties to ensure that instructions and agreements are carried out correctly. The lender’s final closing instructions to the escrow officer should summarize all the conditions that have been met and under what conditions he/she may close the transaction, using the correct title insurance policy and endorsements in place at the recording to ensure lien priority.

  1. Commercial Real Estate Broker(s)

In metropolitan areas, finding a real estate professional who has the background, knowledge and experience of the product type and geographic area is a matter a good referral or inquiry. If the subject property is in a sub market or a rural market, the time should be taken to locate a broker on the front end while the loan transaction is being processed. Brokers in these areas tend to be generalists who list and sell whatever kind of real estate is available. Your job is to locate that one broker who has the specialized skills you may need.

  1. Environmental Engineer

As a lender you have the option of a quick public records search to identify any properties around the subject that may have used contaminants which could affect the property or that would call attention to the need for further inquiry. An example, a data base in California is the State Water Resource Control Board is known as a “Geotracker”. The lender also has an option for a limited phase I, or full phase I to determine whether the property contains or has ever contained identifiable contaminants. The environmental engineer will report that information and will comment on how it may affect the desirability and salability of the property. For properties built before 1978 the issue of asbestos arises. Also lead based paints were commonly used in construction before 1978. Today, the common approach is to do nothing about asbestos or lead based paint if it appears that they are contained or sealed. Adverse findings by the environmental engineer may lead to the need for soils borings, a phase II, or a phase III. Some properties are purchased with the knowledge there is known environmental issues, and that the purpose of the loan may be for mitigation.

  1. Credit report and credit reporting agency

Very little needs to be said about credit reporting agencies. They all use the same data bases to accumulate the historical credit background of a borrower. However, Real Estate Brokers who make or arrange loan transactions in California are subject to 10232.5 of the Business and Professions Code which consists of a summary of disclosures and requirements to investors who may purchase a portion or all the trust deed investment. Section 10232.5 subsection (4) states that the Real Estate Broker must provide the “identity, occupation, employment, income, and credit data about the prospective borrower or borrowers as represented to the broker by the prospective borrower or borrowers”. This is easy to comply with when the borrower is either an individual or a seasoned entity with years of financials, history, and credit. A standard credit report should provide all the information you need. However, loaning to an entity newly formed for the sole purpose of purchasing or holding a property creates an additional question. Do you need to run a credit report on the entity knowing that nothing will show up? The answer is “yes”, and as an abundance of caution, you should also run a credit report on the individuals who created the entity.

  1. Property Inspection/Property Condition Assessment

Some lenders will require a property inspection by a third party who is trained in that field. The Property Condition Report (PCR) is used by purchasers and lenders who take property back in foreclosure, as part of the assessment of value for resale and limiting liability on resale. These reports tend to be very detailed and may require several specialists to evaluate the various components of the property, both real and personal. The process can be expensive costing from $20,000 to $100,000. This form of third party assessment is rarely used in private money loan transactions because of the nature and purpose of the loan request. Limited condition assessments may be available for much less expense.

There are many risks associated with commercial real estate lending, many of which will be written about in subsequent articles. None, however, quite rise to the level of the need to use highly competent and highly skilled third-party vendors. You are the one who has the option to search and hire the most professional vendors. You, your company, and of course your investors, will also be stuck with the results if substandard vendors are used.

Don’t Leave Thousands on the Table at Closing

By Kathy Kennebrook (The Marketing Magic Lady)

One of the things that never ceases to amaze me in the real estate business is how many investors leave hundreds or thousands of dollars on the table at closing due to errors in the closing documents. This is an area where many investors need to be educated. Many times investors get excited about the bottom line and forget to check the figures on the documents.

It is a mistake to assume that the HUD or closing statement is correct or that the closing documents are correct. The person preparing the closing statement can make mistakes. In addition, the person preparing the closing statement and documents is using figures that they have acquired from other people who could also make mistakes, such as the insurance company, the Realtors, the lender, home inspection service, or the surveyor.

You need to take the time to read all the documents carefully before closing on any deal. I have personally seen errors on the HUD at almost every closing I have ever been part of. Many investors only look at the bottom line and think “yes that’s enough money” but they fail to look at the whole closing statement, and in doing so possibly leave thousands at the table. I just had a closing take place recently where there was a mistake of a thousand dollars on the HUD. They put one of the buyer’s expenses on my side of the closing statement. I don’t know about you, but I think a thousand dollars is a lot of money to leave behind when you are entitled to it.

If you are looking at a closing statement and you aren’t sure why a figure is there, ASK the closing agent or attorney what it is and why it’s on the closing statement. It’s their job to make sure things are done correctly and all the figures are on the right side of the statements at a closing. Until I thoroughly learned the real estate business, I questioned every closing statement I looked at to make sure there were no mistakes.

There are some areas in particular that should be checked thoroughly. If there is a Realtor fee, make sure the percentages are correct and the payment amount to each Realtor is correct if more than one Realtor was involved in the deal.

Make sure you check the per diem interest to make sure this figure is calculated correctly. There are programs online that can help you with these calculations. I recently had a deal where I was the lender and my borrower was paying me off with the sale of the property to a buyer. When I received my check for the payoff on my note, I had been overpaid by $750.00. The per diem interest and pre-payment penalty had been calculated incorrectly. Had I not caught the error and written a check to my borrower, he would never have known there was an error. His mind was on nothing but the bottom line and he left at least $750.00 at the closing table. Compared to big checks, these may seem like small amounts, but multiply these amounts by how many closings you will do over a period of just a year and it adds up quickly! If it’s your money, you are entitled to it.

Make sure that the figures on the HUD from the insurance company, termite inspection, home inspection, survey, realtors or any other fee that should be carried to the HUD are correct. There have been many times when these figures were either incorrect or there were fees on the HUD that I had already paid out of pocket before the closing. If there are home owner association fees, make sure the pro-rated amounts on these are correct. If there is a home warranty to be paid for the buyer, make sure it shows up on the closing statement. These are all errors I have personally experienced on closing statements.

Check to make sure that the pro-rated property tax figures are correct on the HUD and appear on the correct side of the HUD. If you are due pro-rated taxes from your seller, make sure they show up as a credit on your side of the HUD. If you owe pro-rated taxes to a buyer, make sure these show up as a credit on the buyer’s side of the HUD. If there is a new loan amount or a payoff figure from a lender make sure these figures are correct. Make sure that any pre-payment penalties have been properly credited or charged. If you are paying off a mortgage, also make sure you are not charged a pre-payment penalty when none is due. This is another error I recently encountered on a closing statement.

There are other areas where I have frequently found errors so make sure you check your documents carefully before the closing. It’s much easier to deal with problems at the closing table than have them show up later and have to be corrected. If you are assisting a buyer with closing costs, make sure they don’t charge you more money in closing costs than they are entitled to. If you are assisting a buyer with closing costs and you see a big pay day on their side of the HUD, you need to open your mouth and protest it. Most lenders will not allow a buyer to take any more than 500.00 away from the closing table, especially when it is your money. If there is money left over from seller assisted closing costs, it should be credited to the seller who assisted with closing costs. It shouldn’t result in a big payday for the buyer.

Make sure you also check loan documents carefully. Check the interest rate, the balloon date and amount, and the amount of the note. I had a note and mortgage just recently where I was funding the deal for the buyer and the payee of the note and mortgage was the seller instead of me. They also had the balloon date wrong on the note. It showed a ten year balloon instead of a one year balloon because someone accidentally added a zero.

If there is an interest only payment to be made each month, make sure this is clearly stated in the note and mortgage. Also make sure that terms for late fees are clearly stated if you are the person holding a note for your buyer. Make sure names and addresses are correct and spelled correctly. Make sure you get an amortization schedule whether you are the mortgagor or the mortgagee. This is the best way to track a loan.

All of these are important points to check before any closing occurs. Don’t assume the title agent or attorney will catch the errors. They do many closings each day and they usually are unable to catch every mistake. In addition, very often the title agent or attorney is transferring figures they got from other people such as the Realtor, the lender or the insurance agent so they my not be aware that these figures are incorrect. It’s your deal and your closing, make sure the documents are correct so you don’t leave thousands at the closing table or create title problems later that could have been solved at the time of the closing of the deal.

Make sure all the documents that are to be signed and notarized are done properly. Make sure social security numbers or Tax ID numbers are correct on the 1099 so you are taxed correctly. I just recently had a closing where they put my social security number on the 1099 instead of the corporation that was supposed to absorb the income from the sale of the property. These are all real errors that occur all the time. Make sure you protect your interests when closing on properties whether you are buying or selling or simply holding a note so you don’t leave thousands on the table at the closing.

For more information on all the tools you need to find deals and automate your real estate investing business, visit my website at www.marketingmagiclady.com. While you are there be sure and sign up for my free monthly newsletter.

 

Just DO It: BE the difference you want to make

By Karen A. Walker

You want to make a difference? Start by BEING the difference. And if you’re serious about being the difference, start with trust.

Famed leadership consultant Stephen R. Covey said it best: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

John Aaron and Gene Simmons, co-founders of Florida-based Prestige Executive Funding, have each independently put mutual trust and the strength of honoring their word primary in their real estate and lending relationships long before they partnered together to better serve their sophisticated clients.

In fact, trust is so fundamental to everything they do in business that it’s second nature to them, and to their team. 

Trust is an integral part of every transaction in which they participate, regardless of client sophistication, background or anything else…. that is, regardless of anything else except the equal trustworthiness of their clients and their arrangements.

Noteworthy

This year, at age 29, John Aaron was featured in Forbes magazine’s “30 under 30” highlight.   He achieved consistent success in the fix and flip marketplace with, according to Forbes, more than $100 million in residential properties purchased and flipped at the time of the article.

Gene Simmons, co-founder and co-president of Prestige Executive Funding, says Aaron has about 80 properties in his portfolio at any given time. Parlaying his residential fix and flip success into the commercial arena, Aaron is also purchasing large commercial apartment buildings, developing modern waterfront properties, condominiums, hotels and retail properties.

But Aaron would rather DO it than talk about it.  He’d rather lead by example than tell you what to do.

For Aaron, his early character traits and principles of good business remain the same as they did when he first started: Focus, Integrity, Quality, Consistency, a lot of Hard Work, and Giving Back.

Just for the record, Giving Back is a core motivator for Aaron.  Years ago he launched a nonprofit foundation and, as Simmons describes his young, motivated and sharp partner, “Aaron is always doing stuff for the community.  He’s at soup kitchens a lot and helping homeless and those in need. He likes going into an area, purchasing retail and bringing much needed jobs and opportunities into areas where people are struggling. He does at least five major service-oriented events a year. That’s a big part of who he is.”

New York to Florida

Gene Simmons comes from the other side of the real estate development and investment business; the lending side.  Originally from New York, he relocated to Florida years ago.

At this point in his career, with more than 20 years experience in mortgage and loan business, he’s seen his share of ups and downs in the industry.  He’s also seen—and chosen to live by—the timeless principles of good ethics and honoring one’s word, regardless of what this or that other lender is doing.

Those principles have served him well, even through some wild years for some sectors of the lending industry.  But Simmons never veered from his core path of excellence in service, good ethical practices, and high-quaiity loans.

For Simmons, it’s not solely about the money or the profit.  He takes a longer view.  For him, it’s always been about building solid, trustworthy and valuable, long-term relationships with his clients.  This makes his partnership with Aaron a solid one.

Early mentors

Both Aaron and Simmons know their area of expertise so well that they practically could do it, excellently, in their sleep.  But when you talk with either of them about their beginnings, they are each quick to point out excellent mentors in the beginning of their careers.

For Simmons it was an early boss in the loan business.  The man was renown for not only his nimble and creative loan solutions, but also, and more importantly, for the ethical way he did business. Every. Time.

For Aaron, it was a real estate investor guru. Again, this mentor was bold, challenging his mentees and always available when a student needed help. Above all, he was ethical to the core, and Aaron valued that.

But mentors without students who are willing to follow the advice of their mentor yields no fruit.  The students themselves have to be willing to DO what they are challenged to do, even if it is out of their “comfort zone” and doesn’t seem to make sense at first. 

Both Aaron and Simmons were willing to take those newbie leaps of faith, to take advised action, to “just do it,” but only because of the high level of proven trust they each had for their early mentors.

Now they, in turn, are trusted guides for their team, for each other, and for their select clientele.

Customized Solutions

“Each deal we do is customized,” says Simmons, whose first-hand, creative, ethical funding examples lie ready for sharing when the need arises.

“We are a full service commercial lending source,” continues Simmons, who often recognizes ethical, creative financial solutions that are unique for each client’s situation long before others even—if ever—figure them out.

“Our staff has over 30 years experience and are able to structure financing requests in just about every aspect of commercial lending. We cater to Corporate Executives, Music Industry Executives, Entrepreneurs and Professional Athletes as well as Entertainers and Actors from Television and Film. We pride ourselves in being extremely competitive and honest . We work closely with our more than 100 institutional relationships in order to meet our client’s customized needs, and to guide our clients every step of the way.”

Prestige Executive Funding primarily serves sophisticated clients since they are capable of, and truly enjoy, providing customized, sophisticated solutions that create exciting win-win-wins for all parties, including the local community.

Summary

In sum, Prestige Executive Funding (FundMePrestige.com) finances and provides a wide scope of investment opportunities and solutions, including Office, Industrial/Warehouses, Multifamily, Mixed Use, SBA, Lines of Credit, International, Churches, Equipment Financing, Factory, Hotels/Motels, Hard Money Loans, Private Equity Mortgage, Bridge Loans, and Development Financing.

What do you call any partnership with two trail-blazing, ethical real estate investing and lending entrepreneurs? Unstoppable. Successful. A win for all parties.

Put a more practical way, Prestige Executive Funding provides access to institutional capital, family office funds, and direct private money for funding all types of real estate investments. Lending in all 50 states. Up to 90% LTV, Prestige Executive Funding represents a group of investors who have financed more than two billion dollars worth of loans nationwide. Loans from $1 Million to 100+ Million.  Learn more at www.FundMePrestige.com.

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12 Steps to the Closing Table and the Big Check

By Kathy Kennebrook (The Marketing Magic Lady)

Okay, so your property is under contract, you’ve pre-qualified your prospect; they are working with the lender and everything is moving right along, right? Not necessarily. There are several steps to a successful closing and we are going to cover those one by one. Now remember, once you have your dream team in place, you will have the people available who will handle all of the details for you. In the meantime, you still need to know what all the steps are so you know everything gets handled properly.

  1. Make sure you get a big enough deposit from your buyer so they have some real dollars invested in the deal. Even if they are going for one hundred percent financing I still get as much as I can in order to secure the deal better. If your buyer puts down a larger deposit they are usually more committed to going through with the closing, so this is a requirement for me. I won’t even consider a deposit less than $1,000.00, but I always try for as much as I can get. The higher dollar the property is, the more deposit I require.
  1. Make sure that the lender or the mortgage broker orders credit and an appraisal on the property immediately. Usually, I will not consider a buyer who has not already been pre-qualified, so usually the credit check has already been done. Many lenders will try to wait until they get the contracts and other paperwork in before ordering the appraisal. This is a no-no. If you wait on the appraisal, it can hold up your closing by two to three weeks. Plus, if this buyer doesn’t end up buying the property, the appraisal can be used for the next buyer. Most appraisals are good for six months and now you have an appraisal that has already been paid for.
  1. Follow up with the loan processor to make sure the appraisal has been ordered and that the other parts of the closing are moving along. Many times your title agent or your Realtor or your sales person will do this for you, after all they want to get paid too. Make sure they have everything they need from the buyer regarding loan documentation.
  1. Follow up and make sure that title work has also been started. You want to make sure that everything is done in a timely matter so that there are no holdups when you go to close. Every once in awhile you may discover some small glitch in the title work that needs to be addressed, such as a deed that wasn’t done correctly. There would need to be an additional quit claim deed done to correct the mistake. Make sure the title agent understands the contract paperwork and what entity the funds are to be paid to. You also want to make sure they do the 1099 correctly so the right entity gets taxed. You will also want to provide the title company with a copy of the existing title policy. This means that they will be able to come forward from the date of your policy which takes less time and this may make the title search cheaper. Make sure the title agent understands who is going to pay for what regarding closing costs.

  1. Call the loan processor to make sure the property appraised for at least the amount of the contract. Make sure your buyer has ordered a termite inspection, a survey, a radon inspection or whatever else is required by the lender in order to close. Is there anything you can do to move things along? If you have a copy of a fairly recent survey, you can provide a copy. This will also save time and move you closer to the closing. Has your buyer’s deposit been credited? Have they gotten the paperwork they need to the lender including employment verification and rental history? These are all things you need to stay on top of.
  1. If your buyers are using city or county funds to supplement their loan, there will need to be another inspection done by the city or county. This is a stipulation of their program. Make sure this gets done quickly in order to address any issues that could come up with the inspection. If your buyers are having a home inspection done, make sure it is done right away. Not getting it done in a timely manner can hold up your closing.
  1. Does the lender have your information in order to be able to order a payoff on any underlying loans on the property? Have they received the payoff yet and have you reviewed it to make sure it is correct? Don’t just assume that just because they have been given figures that those figures are correct. Make sure they fax you a copy of the payoff for you to review. Double check the per diem amounts and make sure you aren’t being charged a prepayment penalty if there isn’t one due. Make sure the most recent payment has been credited against the amount due. These are problems I have had to deal with. If the loan is with a private lender, sometimes it takes even longer to get a payoff from them. Some of them don’t know how to prepare one, so they need the help of the title company or their real estate attorney for this. This is also the time you might be able to negotiate a discount with them. This works especially well if it was a seller held mortgage. We have gotten private lenders and sellers to negotiate discounts on loans on several occasions which just made our paycheck bigger.

  1. Has the buyer’s loan been approved? If not find out what the problem is and how to fix it if it can be fixed. If the loan has been approved find out what the proposed closing date is going to be. Has your buyer ordered insurance yet? You need to check this out and it needs to be done as soon as possible. This is another area where you could have a glitch. Sometimes the age of the property or the location of the property becomes an issue. For example, here in Florida where I live, if there is a hurricane brewing, we end up in a “box” which is a period of time where you can’t buy insurance until a hurricane passes. This can hold up a closing for several days unless the insurance is already in place. A buyer must purchase a homeowners policy for one year and it must pre-paid at closing.
  1. If you are selling a condo or a home with a home owners association, make sure the lender and the buyers have a copy of the home owner association rules and documents and that the buyers have set up their appointment for their meeting with the condo association or home owners association. If they are not approved by the condo association or homeowners association, the rest of the closing is a mute point. You need to make sure your buyer’s get through this process successfully.
  1. So now we have a set closing date. Make sure you contact the closing agent to make sure you get a copy of the HUD or closing statement before the closing takes place and before you arrive at a closing. Very recently we had a closing that didn’t take place because once we got the HUD all the figures including the asking price and seller assisted closing costs had all been changed. The closing price listed on the HUD was several thousand lower than the contract had called for. I have never seen anything like it and the deal never closed. Check the numbers! If there is a Realtor fee involved make sure the percentages are correct. Check the pro rated amounts you are being charged for property taxes or association fees. When you close on a property during the year, say in June and property taxes are due in October; you have to reimburse the buyer for the property taxes from January until the closing date in June since they didn’t own the property during that time period. The same would go for any association fees there might be. You will have to reimburse the buyer for the period during the month that they did not own the property. Double check to make sure these figure are correct. In my contract, if we are assisting the buyer in any way with closing costs, the buyer can’t walk away from closing with more than five hundred dollars. So this is another figure we check. Any amount over the five hundred dollars is credited back to our side on the closing statement.
  1. Call your buyer and make sure they have gotten a cashiers check for any monies they have to bring to closing and make sure they know where it is and what time the closing takes place. Make sure they bring a photo ID with them. The lender will require this. Believe me when I tell you that these are all lessons learned from experience.

  1. Now, Show up at the closing and don’t forget to bring the keys or garage door openers. Take several deep breaths and try to relax. Once you get through the closing take another deep breath, call your spouse and go out to dinner to celebrate.

Here is another point for you to consider. In my business, it is rare that I go to closings anymore since the whole closing process is outsourced. The funds from the closing are directly wired to an account for us so we get paid right away.

If I do go to a closing, I don’t go at the same time as the buyers. I usually go right after they are done with all their paperwork. The paperwork on a closing for a buyer is fairly time consuming and needs to be explained to the buyer by the title agent. I don’t like sitting at closings for an hour or more until I need to sign my documents. If you have done your due diligence and followed all the steps in the closing process, there isn’t really anything that can go wrong at the last minute, so breath easy but expect the worst.

Then when you get through the closing, cash your check or make sure your wire has arrived and go to dinner to celebrate!! For more information on Real Estate Investing tools and Marketing to Find Motivated Sellers, Buyers and Lenders visit Kathy Kennebrook’s website at www.marketingmagiclady.com. While you are there sign up for the free Monthly Newsletter and receive $149.00 in real estate investing tools absolutely FREE!

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Approaches To Real Estate Negotiation

By Bruce Kellogg

Introduction

Negotiation, unfortunately, is not taught much to real estate professionals, or to investors. International, corporate, and purchasing courses exist, even to the extent of Master’s degrees, but real estate has not received the same coverage. This article aims to help that.

Start Out Early

Negotiations begin at the first encounter (e.g., phone inquiry). Many people think the initial pleasantries are just that, and the formal negotiations will begin later. Not so. The superior negotiator will have already begun gathering information and setting expectations. Start early so you don’t have to catch up.

The Three Elements

There are three elements to any negotiation: 1) Information, 2) Time, and 3) Power. These will be described below.

Gather Information

The negotiator who gathers the most information usually has an advantage. Interview people, obtain reports, do inspections, use the MLS (Multiple-Listing Service) and other online resources. Hire a private investigator on the seller if the deal is large enough, looking for vulnerabilities (e.g., bitter divorce). You can’t know too much.

The Factor Of Time

It helps to know if the other party has any time constraints, along with your own, of course. Pending foreclosure, divorce, condemnation proceedings are some examples. If the property is “a steal”, scoop it up fast. If it’s priced at or above “market”, then “grind real slow”. Use time to your advantage.

The Factor of Power

In some negotiations the power levels are uneven. One party has more leverage over the other. Seasoned negotiators assess power levels and devise strategies to take these into account. Then, even the weaker party can optimize its outcome.

Be Generous When Selling

Some sellers believe in “Win-Lose” negotiating. They want “top dollah”. This apparent greed and intransigence grates on everyone involved, sometimes to the extent of legal action or retaliation. Be generous when selling. Paint that bedroom. Purchase a Home Protection Plan for those first-time buyers. You’re on your way to wealth. Don’t be cheap!

Keep Your Word/Perform And Smile

Keep your word. Perform everything you’ve agreed to do. And smile as you do it, even if the deal is going against you and you are taking a loss. Don’t whine. Smile. Builds character….and your reputation.

The “Concession Pattern”

In the back-and-forth of negotiations, your “concession pattern” is very important because it sets up expectations in the other party. Always negotiate fairly tightly. Don’t concede too much because the other party will see that as an opening to seek more. Go back-and-forth more times if need be. Try to set things up so you take the other party’s counteroffer rather than force them to take yours. This way they will feel they won, and you will have less trouble with them the rest of the way. And, please, don’t arbitrarily “split the difference”. Amateur negotiators do that.

“Sharp Practices”

The day will come, if it hasn’t already, when the other party will bring “sharp practices” to the table. If these are illegal (e.g., undisclosed money back after the close), call them on it, and refuse to participate. If these are not exactly illegal, then counter them as best you can, or walk away. Life is too short, and your reputation is too important. Always “take the high road” in negotiations.

Re-Negotiating After Inspections

Y’all know to re-negotiate after property inspections, right? ‘Thought so.

Reading List

Included here is a list of Recommended Reading. Buy all of them, used. Read and highlight them. Then, once a year, re-read the highlights. You owe it to your clients, and yourself, to be in tip-top shape a as a negotiator.

Recommended Reading

Negotiate This, Herb Cohen, 2003

Everything’s Negotiable, Eric Wm. Skopec and Laree S. Kiely, 1994

Guerrilla Negotiating, Jay Conrad Levinson, Mark S. A. Smith, and Orvel Ray Wilson, 1999

The Negotiating Game, Chester Karrass, 1992

The Only Negotiating Guide You’ll Ever Need, Peter J. Stark and Jane Flaherty, 2003

Seal the Deal, Leonard Koren and Peter Goodman, 1991

You Can Negotiate Anything, Herb Cohen, 1980

How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie, 1936