Once you have bought a few properties, you will begin to understand that no two closings and no two sellers are the same. The deals that appear to be quick and easy can cause you the most problems. On the other hand, the ones that seem the most difficult can be easy. The biggest reason for most of these problems is that the buyer assumes too much instead of asking the seller. At far too many closings, a buyer will find out that they could have changed something on the contract or altered something in the process if they had only asked the seller beforehand. Like most things in life you never know unless you ask. Never assume anything when buying a real estate investment property.
One of the keys to a smooth closing process is to try to find out the seller’s motivation. Most of the time, a buyer will tiptoe around a question and it becomes a game of cat and mouse with not much being done in the way of progress. If you are dealing directly with the seller, there is nothing wrong with putting some cards on the table. Tell them you like the property and may be willing to make an offer, but you have a limit on your price and you need to close by a certain date. By doing this, you will get an idea if they are serious about selling.
The same goes for items on the contract and items dealing directly with the closing. If you feel that something should be changed or adjusted, you have every right to ask. It is fair to say you never want to trust anyone’s word without conducting your own due diligence. If you have conviction, it will probably get done. Unless you ask, you will not know if your seller wants to sell ASAP to get out of the property or if they need to wait a few months for their kids to get finished with the school year. Knowing this will change your offer and may allow you to pursue other properties you may have had your eye on. Making an offer and waiting for a response and reacting to it may get deals done, but it will not get them done quickly and it will certainly not get them done on your terms.
The contract is the document that will clear up most of the arguments and disagreements in the process, but it should never get to that point. Issues like what stays in the property and what goes should be ironed out long before a deal gets anywhere near closing. Again, you don’t want to keep asking for more once you agree on a deal, but before that point ask away and see what you can get. Unless you talk to your seller you will have no idea what their goal for the transaction is and what they really want out of the deal. The quicker you can find this out, the quicker you can tailor your offer to meet this goal.
Sellers come in all shapes and sizes. More importantly, individual sellers have different wants and needs. What worked for one seller may be the last thing on the mind of another. Before you get too involved in any deal, ask as many questions as possible until you get the answers you are looking for. We all know what happens when you assume.