Horror Story: When “Free Time” Costs You Money

“A couple I know came to my office one day a year after they started looking at homes and said they were ready again to look at homes they could purchase.

They told me another real estate agent wouldn’t show them any homes until they got pre-approved.  I carefully told them the reason for that was to make sure he didn’t waste their time or his time looking at homes that didn’t fit their criteria and price range.

I said that was a good idea but that I did things a little bit differently when I had a little extra time, because I like to dream a little bit with my clients…even if they haven’t been to a lender yet.  Little did I know what I was about to get into…

I told them I’d show them only one or two homes and then we would definitely need to get them to a lender to see what they could afford, otherwise, they’d be wasting their time too – and I didn’t want them to do that!

They were sure what they could afford and found the home of their dreams.  They told me to write up an offer on their dream home, one that was over $300,000, and I asked them several times, ‘Are you sure you’re comfortable with that high of a monthly house payment?’  Both of them said ‘YES’.  So, I began the process of writing up the offer but had to wait until the next day to go with them to the lender.  Has this happened to you before?

The lender who told them that there were 30 pages in their credit report that they needed to work on for the next two months in order for them to receive a loan from her in SIX months.

Now, I knew from the start that this was going to be a learning experience for both them and myself, and it was definitely challenging, but a couple of days after they met with the lender, they called me and told me they were going to buy the $180,000 home they were living in, from their landlord, and ‘could you help us with it?’  (They couldn’t get a loan yet anyway, so I don’t know why they thought they could still get one with a lower price right now.)

What a nightmare.  I had told the listing agent on the first home that I was bringing him an offer and then had to tell him I wasn’t bringing an offer, which didn’t reflect well on me.  And now these buyers wanted me to do it again with another home.

One of the lessons I learned from this is not to tell a listing agent you have an offer until you actually have the signed offer in your hands (with proper financing).  The other lesson is that even though I have some ‘free’ time, it is not always best to use it ‘freely’, even if you know your client will be learning a valuable lesson.  It’s best just to call the lender, right then and there, to see what amount they will be pre-approved for BEFORE spending my gas money on a trip around the countryside.”

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