Trivial Pursuit in Real Estate

trivial pursuit

Have you ever played it?  The game tests your knowledge of all things trivial, for example: The average lead pencil will draw a line 35 miles long or write approximately 50,000 English words.  The more often you play the game the better you get at remembering stuff like this.  Interesting, but not that important.

Realtors play Trivial Pursuit in every real estate transaction they manage.  An important part of due diligence is dealing with all sorts of seemingly unimportant details – issues that appear trivial but can derail a transaction that everyone would otherwise want to happen.

Not every issue can be anticipated in real estate, but the Realtor needs to have good insight into the human psyche in addition to a solid knowledge the real estate business itself.  This, of course, is found in years of experience and continuous education of the real estate business.  The years go by fast, introducing all sorts of life lessons, and there is always opportunity to learn from the abundance of courses and real estate seminars. 

While visiting a prospective client recently, a Realtor began to feel uncomfortable about asking so many questions.  The only important thing was to focus on the sale of the house, everything else was inconsequential according to the client. Really?  Judge for yourself:

Q: “Do you want to keep those window coverings or will you leave them?” 
A: “Those cost a fortune and we can re-size most of them.  We’re taking them but will leave    
      the hardware”

Q: “What about that carpet stair runner?” 
A: “That’s an expensive carpet runner, we bought it while on a trip to India thirty years ago.  That 
      goes with us!”

Q: “What appliances are included in the sale?”  “Let’s list each one.”
A: “All appliances will stay.”

Q: What about in that commercial freezer in the garage? 
A: “That goes with us of course, it is a Turbo Air 2 door reach in – worth over $5,000 and it’s filled
      to capacity.  We have to take that, of course.”

Q: “Is there anyone you WON’T sell to because of their race or sex or religion?” 
A: “Well, I suppose we would have to be considerate to our friends in the neighborhood and not
      be interested if someone were to be too different.”  (Oh my!  Didn’t expect that one)

And there was more. . 

There IS a risk of appearing too officious, nevertheless it is necessary to be through in order to do this work properly and to work in the client’s best interest. This might require being a slight pain to the client now so they never have to experience the greater pain of acting in an illegal manner or being involved in endless bickering over drapes and freezers, or anything else that could ruin the deal.  That means preparation ahead of time, which includes digging into small details. 

The best results usually happen to those who are the best prepared.

An example: the Seller should make a detailed list of items that are included with the sale of the home rather than expecting the buyer to make the correct, or even obvious, assumptions.  This should be done in a respectful manner, telling the Buyer that the Seller  is seeking a mutual understanding and a transparency that will create good will and prove good faith.  This should be a list that is presented BEFORE an offer is made – perhaps as a disclosure attached to the listing sheet. 

Otherwise, during the course of negotiations the Buyer may take exception to the fact that the freezer in the garage is NOT included in the sale when the listing sheet clearly says that appliances are included. 

The importance here is more than settling the freezer issue, or any other issue; it is to promote and preserve the sense of good faith while also protecting client interests.  Negotiating a real estate transaction is more likely to succeed for both parties when there is a sense that everyone is acting in good faith.  A sense of bad faith makes people suspicious and more litigious.  Who needs that in their life? 

Try to be patient and understanding when your Realtor asks for too many trivial details – it’s all part of due diligence and risk management.