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Shift Happens

We recently had an experience with a buyer that reminded me of how impermanent life really is and how the only thing any of us can count on is CHANGE. In many ways, our individual response to change, in life and in Real Estate, shapes our perspective and determines our view of the experience.

In early September, a buyer we worked with received an accepted offer on a house that was a little harder than some others to sell. It was a hundred-year-old two-family house in a desirable neighborhood, but on a very crowded street, without a garage or a driveway. It had a lot of potential, though. The house was empty, a blank canvas ready for renovation, and would it be delivered vacant on title.

After an acceptance was issued, the buyer took nearly two weeks to obtain an engineer’s inspection. We continued to show the property to other interested parties in the interim, as our fiduciary responsibility dictates. The engineer’s report was issued and another week went by before the buyers expressed their thoughts about the concessions they expected the seller to make in order to finalize their purchase. Although the property was being sold “As-Is,” the seller adjusted the price extensively after an in-depth, heavily scrutinized home inspection.

These sellers, my sellers, were very serious about selling. Age and illness magnified their intention, along with a desire to close the book on this chapter of their lives. As we always do, we alerted the buyer that the seller would continue to show the property, and was free, just as the purchaser was, to change their mind if contracts were not signed readily. In response, the buyer said words that, throughout my career, I have heard often, “Don’t rush me.” I would never rush anyone, especially at this stage of my career, but SHIFT happens. Things are shifting daily. Once a buyer and seller arrive at the right price, there is bound to be competition. Remember, CHANGE is constant.

  • How many men lost great women in their lives because they weren’t ready to, as Beyonce so fashionably flaps, “put a ring on it”?
  • How many races are lost due to overconfidence and underestimating an opponent?
  • Who hasn’t heard the old adage, “you snooze; you lose”?

Lo and behold, while the buyer took their time, unwilling to sign contracts and commit to the seller with a down payment, the seller’s health continued to fail. Selling this home as a means of de-stressing this family’s life, even just a little, became my team’s focused objective. In that spirit, we found another buyer who was willing to waive any and all inspections, purchase the home as-is, as was originally intended, and who was willing to pay more money than the previous buyer.

The seller now had the option to choose a more conclusive path. The additional money, which was more but not much more, was NOT the deciding factor. Nearly a month had passed by since the first buyer’s offer was accepted without the security of executed contracts.


I’m often in the position of explaining to a seller that buyers don’t wait. It works both ways, though, and homes don’t wait either. People need closure. Why? Because while some changes can be exciting, most of the time, change is very stressful. Closure helps create some permanence in an otherwise impermanent world. When someone really wants to buy, they should, and when someone really needs to sell, they will.

Sellers should give prospective purchasers a reasonable period to allow for due diligence; REASONABLE, meaning a few days, even up to a week; that’s all. Heck, I can’t even reserve a turkey for Thanksgiving without a sizable deposit!

Needless to say, and you may hear about it in this world of free forum reviews, the buyer was upset, LIVID even. I wonder how they would feel if the shoe was on the other foot, or if they met the seller to understand the meaning of time is of the essence. What if it were their parents who needed to sell? Would they let them wait a month with no promise of completion?

What would you do? I would be as interested to hear your view.

The market is constantly changing. It’s essential to realize the importance of time, in Real Estate, in relationships, and in life. Time changes everything, and change is constantly happening.
How we respond to this change is determined by our assumptions, attitudes, and, most importantly, our openness to change.