Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Forcing It

This year I have had several closings (all related to distressed properties, go figure) that were pretty brutal. A closing usually takes about an hour and I have had several now that have taken 3 or more hours. Yesterday was a whopper -- I was at the closing office for almost 5 hours.

The property was incredible, in the historic district, and cheap cheap cheap. About 30% less than the previous owner paid a few years ago. It was a real once-in-a-lifetime for the buyer.

My buyer was incredible -- smart and motivated and charming to boot.

The deal was less than incredible. A short sale, with Countrywide, while they were going through a merger with Bank of America. The seller lives in Europe and was hard to reach, and maybe did not want to be reached.

Luckily, the list agent was a gem. She worked really hard on this but she almost gave up on the deal because Countrywide was not approving any short sales during the BOA merger and was giving them the runaround.

About 5 months after we wrote our offer, Countrywide decided to take it. It was a huge effort by the list agent to get Countrywide to accept a big loss. It was a definite relief, but it was not the end of our hurdles.

It was FHA financing, and there is nothing FHA loves more than to require a house to be painted before it is sold, or not allow it to be sold at all. And yes, this big old Victorian needed paint, and fast. The buyer got to work and had it painted in less than 3 days. I was shocked and stunned, and knew this closing had a chance to happen.

Yesterday at the closing table we were missing a few elements, but the buyer began signing anyway. As he signed the last few papers, we still did not have an email or phone call back from Countrywide with final approval on our numbers.

We let the buyer go and I got on the phone. I called the number we had. I called other Countrywide numbers I found online. I could not reach the "only person" that would be allowed to approve this sale. We had to have it wrapped up in 48 hours or the entire deal would be lost. It was high stakes and I was not going to let it fall apart.

Finally I checked Countrywide's SEC filings and called the number that connected me to the office where the executives are. I was connected through to one of the VP's admins and she was more than happy to stop coloring spreadsheets and pulled a few strings for me. After more than two and a half hours on the phone, Countrywide approved the sale.

I think it took six days off my life, this closing. It's kind of a miracle it happened at all -- the list agent filled me in on some details that I did not know before that make it clear this is a real miracle.

I had champagne on the buyer's new deck last night with his friends and family. It was very rewarding to have this one done. As I was going to sleep that night, all of my adrenaline came rushing through and my heart was just palpitating. I had spent so long keeping a cool head that it all fell on me right then. I don't think anyone other than other realtors know what we go through to keep it together sometimes.

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