Posted on September 20th, 2016 No comments
To Sign or Not to Sign the Arbitration Clause in the Residential Purchase Contract
The Arbitration Clause in the Residential Purchase Contract (RPA) in Southern California is the only section of the contract that may not be agreed upon by buyer and seller and yet you still have a fully executed contract. Most buyers’ agents tell their clients to sign this clause without fully understanding it, and without fully explaining it.
The Arbitration Clause comes into effect if buyer and seller have a dispute, and mediation does not work. Mediation is compulsory, but not binding. This mean that if there’s a dispute between buyer and seller, they must go to Mediation. However if they don’t like the result, they don’t have to adhere to it. Arbitration, on the other hand, is voluntary but the decision is binding. There is no jury in an Arbitration, and you can’t appeal a decision. The upsides are that it’s much faster and much less expensive than going to court.
What a lot of agents don’t tell their clients is that you don’t have to agree to Arbitration at the time you sign the offer. Both parties can always decide to go to Arbitration at a later date even if the clause is not signed. In fact, my broker, RE/MAX Estate Properties has been instructed by our E&O insurance company not to sign the Arbitration Clause in a listing agreement for this very reason. The E&O company wants the flexibility to decide at a later date if there’s a dispute between the Broker and a seller.
Many agents go on auto-pilot when it comes time to sign the contract. They see a blank line for a signature and they assume it needs a signature. Make sure to ask your agent more questions. Ultimately the decision is up to you, but your agent should be giving you the information to help you make these decisions.
Posted on October 21st, 2015 No comments
If you ask agents in the South Bay what’s going on with the market, you get some puzzled looks.
The market that was red hot, all of a sudden is not. And it’s hard to put a finger on what is happening, whether it’s an anomaly or a sign of a downtrend or if we’re just plateauing.
I personally think we’re stuttering, but it may be indicative of a few environmental and economic conditions that may be temporary.
1. The volatility of the stock market was undeniably sobering. Whether people lost money or were just fearful that they were going to lose money, it put a damper on buyer mentality. Buyers may have pulled back, as they do, when they don’t feel flush with cash. As the market settles down, this feeling goes away and buyers may resume their hunger for purchasing real estate.
2. We all know that a great part of the southern California market has been propelled by Chinese money. And as of late, the exchange rate has shifted in favor of the USD. Costing them 10% more, the Chinese buyers seem to have pulled off from their purchasing frenzy… for now. On top of this, and maybe more importantly, the Chinese government has put new caps on the amount of yuan that can be withdrawn outside their country.
3. And finally, it’s hot. I mean it’s really hot. I go so far as saying, it’s “Africa hot”. I believe that the heat wave that has hit Los Angeles and the Beach Cities has an impact on real estate. And why not? We know that horrific winters on the east coast put a halt to the market there. It’s been so hot here in the South Bay… Hermosa, Redondo and Manhattan Beach have been experiencing weather in the high 80s which is normally unheard of at the beach. And people don’t know how to cope with it. There’s very little A/C, very little reprieve. I think to some extent people have actually been beaten by the heat. So there’s little motivation to go shopping for a home when all you want to do is stick your head under the faucet… which is not even kosher in the drought that we’re having.
So we’ll see in the coming months which direction the stock market and the temperature take. And we’ll see if this is just a hiccup or a sign of a slowdown to come.
Posted on January 28th, 2015 No comments
In southern California where the majority of Realtors use CAR’s residential purchase agreement to make an offer, there have been a number of changes to the contract for 2015. (CAR = California Association of Realtors).
One of the biggest changes – which could potentially restructure how buyers and sellers negotiate – is the removal of the WPA form. WPA stands for Wood Destroying Pest Inspection. It’s basically the form buyers includes with their offer that stipulates that sellers will pay for a termite report as well as any Section 1 items identified on that report. Section 1 items must be fixed prior to the close of escrow (lender requirements) and usually include termite infestation and dry rot among other things. These two are usually the big ticket items. And although these points are negotiable (as is everything in the contract), it was standard practice for sellers to pay for Section 1 items. This was handled up front with the offer. Sellers accepted the fact that this was a standard expense to selling a home. Then when buyers come back with a Request for Repairs, all repairs would be over and above the termite work.
But in 2015, the WPA has been eliminated. Potentially, buyers can still request termite work up front in the offer. And this will probably happen for some time to come. Eventually, however, the process will evolve and termite work will become part of the negotiations for repairs.
The biggest impact from this change is that sellers won’t automatically feel it’s their responsibility to do the termite work, i.e. tent their home for infestation, replace rotted wood with fresh wood. And sellers can simply say they won’t do the work. Of course, they will be more apt to do the work in a buyers’ market and probably less willing in a sellers’ market. These can be expensive repairs and buyers may have to get used to incurring this expense as time goes on.
Posted on July 24th, 2013 No comments
Typically when Realtors talk about “chasing the market”, we are referring to a seller who has priced his home to high. The property sits on the market for some time without offers, and then the seller decides to reduce the price. This new price may have been attractive when the house was first listed, but now the market has changed – prices have dropped further, and even though the property is sporting a new, lower price, it’s ultimately still overpriced. This can happen again and again… price reduction, wait, price reduction, wait… but with each price reduction the seller never seems to catch up with the changing market, and he ultimately chases the market down hill. This trend is what drives Realtors to recommend to their sellers to price the home right at the beginning. They may be asking for less than what they would like to get for their home, but it will be more money than what they will ultimately make if they start too high.
But these days “chasing the market” can also be applied to buyers. There has been such high demand in so many markets with extremely low inventory that competition has spiraled out of control. Buyers lament that they went $20, 30, 40 thousand over the asking price and they still didn’t get the house. And after missing out on property after property, they learn their lesson. On the next listing, they come in like gangbusters, make the offer of the century, and blow everyone else out of the water. Ultimately, each home that is sold sets a new benchmark. And the next listing can start at the new level and go up from there. The sooner a buyer gets super aggressive the better, because she will secure her home and get out of the race while prices continue to go up. The buyers that continue to hem and haw and make conservative offers will chase the market up and possibly price themselves out of the market or pay a great deal more money than they would have had to pay just a few months prior.
As a Realtor, I don’t enjoy having the conversation with my buyer clients that they need to make an offer over the asking price. I’m much happier when my clients feel like we did a good job negotiating and they got a good deal. But not all markets work that way. And when you find yourself in a market that has rising prices, the sooner you are aggressive, the better.
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
For instance in North Redondo, the price of a 4 bedroom, upgraded town home was selling in the mid to high $800,000s at the end of 2012 and into early 2013. They are currently selling for low to mid $900,000s, and in a couple of cases close to $1,000,000. It’s a big price swing in a short amount of time. If a buyer was aggressive back in January, he could have purchased 2109 Huntington Lane, #B for $829,000 or new construction at 1905 Plant Ave, # B for $859,000. (These are sold prices.) In the past 6 weeks, buyers have paid $998,000 for 1906 Morgan Lane, #B, $960,000 for 2208 Warfield Ave, #B, and $950,000 for 2118 Pullman Lane, #B.
The key to buyers “chasing the market” is that at any time it can stop. Once buyers decide enough is enough and they feel prices are too high, they will pull back and prices will come back down again. But until then, the competition is stiff and sellers are in the driver’s seat. And for once they are not the ones chasing the market.