Case Study: Port Chester Divorce

Sales of a matrimonial home can be considered a distress sale of sorts, and as with many distress matters, deferred maintenance is often a factor. While the term is often considered a polite euphemism for serious issues, in this case it was just that- some minor repairs were needed, and the seller simply didn’t have the resources to spruce up or stage the way you often see in Westchester County real estate.

The market cycle of this sale was at the tail end of the Great Recession, and it was still very much a buyer’s market. Given that backdrop, the buyers did make a bigger issue of the loose ends like paint needed and other non-urgent matters, and the home eventually sold for over $20,000 under list price. That was not atypical for the time period, but the sellers weren’t thrilled about it and I didn’t blame them.

One good thing favoring the sellers was that they took my recommendation of lawyer – she was dynamite throughout the whole transaction, and reined in the buyer’s attorney on some of their less than reasonable demands.

The job of the agent is to advocate for both of the clients, even if they aren’t on speaking terms, and I think we had very few joint conversations over the course of the transaction. One spouse had already moved out with the kids, and the remaining spouse was just trying to get through the process. And the buyers were typical buyers for the time, making every effort to press their advantage at every turn. I had a good working relationship with their agent, and, for my part, I noted that she was uncomfortable with her client’s opportunistic attitude and I did my best to use it for my client’s advantage.

The unique thing about this transaction was that the buyer’s loan officer was unusually involved. I think he was making every excuse he could to contact me in order to solicit business from me in the future. The market was down at that time and loan officers, like agents, were looking for business anywhere they could find it. That said, I found him to be a pain in the neck.

I did have to lean on my occupant client to get their act together when it came time to set closing dates and arrange for packing, moving, and leaving the house in empty and broom clean condition. The client who had moved out was anxious about the home’s condition, but when closing day did finally arrive, the occupant was packed and the home was ready. Lots of stuff was in trash bags, but it was packed.

As luck would have it, the annoying loan officer accompanied the buyer on their pre-close walk through of the property, something I’ve never seen before or since. And he did not do right by his borrower. Why he came along I’ll never know, except for another chance to talk to me, but every nail hole, every smudge, and every blemish in the house was not lost on this guy, nor was he particularly subtle. He was stirring the pot.

It is not our job to stir the pot. It is our job to quell passions, and be the objective voice of reason.

At the closing, the seller’s attorney kept up with her exemplary professionalism, and diffused the issues that the loan officer exacerbated in the walk through. That’s one good thing I am proud of; my contact list for clients has some top notch professionals who always make a difference.

The sellers were exhausted at the end of this process, and while some of it was self inflicted, that’s the nature of these types of sales. They are difficult and regular people can never be truly prepared. They did their best, and I am sure they are relieved that chapter is now closed.

Not long after the closing, the loan officer called me. I told him to lose my number.

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