It occurred to me the other day that I have been blogging for nearly a decade. A decade, working - and blogging - first as simply a lawyer, and then as a real estate broker lawyer. I figured that's long enough that I should have a few "greatest hits" worth remembering. So I went back to Rain City Guide, where I've done most of my substantive blogging, and picked my Top 5. Here they are, in no particular order:
A LAWYER FOR BUYING & SELLING A HOME
Do You Need a Lawyer When Buying or Selling? Depends - Do You Want to Reduce Your Risk? This is my personal favorite. It's part of Quill's "Lawyers Reduce Risk" series. This installment is a charming story in two parts. First, a young happy couple buys a new home without appreciating the significance of their neighbor's encroaching garden. Eleven years later, the now not-so-young and not-happy-at-all couple get divorced and sell the home, again without appreciating the legal significance of the neighbor's encroaching garden. Two years after that, they get sued - D'oh! The end result ends up costing them tens of thousands of dollars. A cautionary tale indeed.
COMMISSIONS ARE BAD FOR BUYERS
The Commission-Based Fee Structure: Why Its Bad for Buyers This is one of my more inflammatory posts (and I've had more than a few!). But I stand by it, it's good stuff. I've even updated it to take into account the latest entries into the "alternative brokerage" marketplace. In a nutshell, three systemic problems flow from the fact that the seller pays the buyer's agent's commission. First, this creates a very serious conflict of interests. Second, it denies the buyer any ability to match the fee paid with the services needed. In today's internet-driven world, most consumers do most if not all of their initial home search themselves. But they still pay the same old 3% (since all funds originate with the buyer). Third, it insulates the buyer's agent's commission from any meaningful downward market price pressure. I'm no math major, but 1 + 1 + 1 = bad for buyers.
THE CLOSING DATE
A Closing Date Without a Closing This post is my most popular, undoubtedly because (a) this happens not infrequently, and (b) when it does, it's panic time! What do we do?? Check the Google!!! This post does a nice job of breaking down the likely issues from both the buyer's and seller's perspective. But as the post notes, it's no substitute for having an attorney on board and ready to go. Because when the transaction flies off the rails, you want to know RIGHT NOW what your rights and obligations are - and if you don't know, you may make a misstep.
SKIPPING AN AGENT & SAVING MONEY
Buying Without an Agent: How to Get that 3% Another consumer-friendly post that was not particularly well received by the agent community. The title says it all, I break down how to forego a buyer's agent, use an attorney instead, and save some substantial money. Of note, this means you need to negotiate the buyer's agents' commission with the seller in the contract. The seller, and even more so the seller's agent, may not take kindly. After all, the seller's agent is contractually entitled to the buyer's agent commission if there is no buyer's agent. So you're asking someone to take a very large haircut. If there is or might be another buyer, this may be a bad move.
USING THE FINANCING CONTINGENCY
How to Strengthen Your Offer When There Are Multiple Buyers This post takes on only one aspect of this topic, specifically how to tweak the financing contingency so as to make the offer stronger. It's a nuanced topic, as I explain. It's a good idea to have an attorney make this sort of edit to the form offer, because brokers often-times don't fully appreciate the nuances. And that can backfire on you.
Stay tuned for another ten years, I'll hook you up with another Top 5! :-)