Be prepared to deal with any problems


August 28, 1994|By Dian Hymer

What should I do if something goes wrong?

Most home purchases, after nervous moments and problem solving, are successfully concluded. But home buying requires the coordinated efforts of many people: buyers, sellers, lenders, real estate agents, title officers and inspectors. With this many players involved, a lot of things can go wrong.

You can't always avoid problems during a real estate transaction, but you can prepare yourself in advance for handling problems adeptly when they do arise.

Understand that you're in charge of your real estate transaction. Never delegate your role as decision-maker. But you should delegate as many of the tasks related to the home-buying process as you can. The key is to hire the right people to assist you, and then to stay well-informed.

Finding good people to work with is a chore in itself. Don't cut corners. It's one of the more important aspects of your real estate experience. It helps if you know what to expect during the course of your real estate transaction. Be sure to let the people you've selected to help you know that you want to be kept informed each step of the way.

Keep a log of all pertinent conversations you have with your crew of professionals. This way if something does go wrong, you have a record of what someone told you was supposed to have happened. You should also receive copies of all documents and correspondence.

Don't be intimidated by the real estate professionals you're working with. Your future business is valuable to these people. If they provide great service, you'll use them again. You'll refer them to your friends. If they don't perform to your satisfaction, you can negatively impact their future earning power.

FIRST-TIME TIP: When problems arise, find out who's responsible for the problem and who can remedy the situation. Then work with that person to set things right. If you find that the person who can help you out is not responsive to your plight, go to the next in command.

For instance, if you need to request an extension of your loan contingency and your agent doesn't return your phone calls, talk to your agent's manager/broker.

If after working up the chain of command, you are still unable to resolve your problem satisfactorily, you have several options. Mediation and arbitration clauses are included in some real estate purchase agreements, providing methods for dispute resolution. In some cases, you may be able to pursue a small claims court remedy if the monetary damages are small. For larger irreconcilable problems, you may need to hire a real estate attorney.

THE CLOSING: In addition, most of the people you'll be working with in your real estate transaction are licensed and work under the jurisdiction of a regulating agency where you can make a formal complaint. In most states, home inspectors aren't required to be licensed, so choose your inspector carefully.

Dian Hymer's column is syndicated through Inman News Features. Send questions and comments care of Inman News Features, 5335 College Ave., No. 25, Oakland, Calif. 94618

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