I recently helped a first time homebuyer acquire a beautiful home, and I let him get me away from insisting on realistic expectations, that came back to bite me. The property is such a jewel: a home on a private golf course, selling for less than half of what it sold for 3 years ago. It's on a 1/3 acre lot, a custom vintage home from the 1960s. This California real estate represented everything my client was looking for, and beyond, when we began the home search over a year ago. The home was bank-owned, and the listing was an "AS IS" scenario. While there were typical love and care issues that were needed on this REO, it had a dated roof. The sellers made it clear that they would not repair anything on the home, and would only address issues that were required by the California Mortgage lender. We discussed the possibility of an appraiser noteing the age of the roof on the appraisal, and we felt like there was a chance they would identify the roof's age. We made the offer with the client understanding that he was agreeing to buy the home as is, whether the appraiser said anything about the roof or not. An initial roof inspector suggested the roof was over 45 years old, and needed to be replaced. So my client then began to talk and brag to his friends about how this home was great, and how the roof would be addressed by the sellers. I always followed up with him stating we would do the best that we could, once the appraisal was completed, to address any issues the lender required. When the appraisal was completed, there was nothing mentioned about the roofs' age.
My client's entire demeanor changed. We went from a productive, agreeable, and respectable relationship, to a hostile, irritable one. My demeanor continued to be one of a professional, consultive approach, but now had fallen to deaf ears. To me, nothing had changed. The hopes of a roof issue being addressed on an appraisal was merely a bonus. After all, it only amounted to about 4% of the total purchase price. But to my client, over the 2 weeks we waited for that appraisal to be completed, the roof became a paramount issue that he had staked his ego on. We moved forward, and closed the escrow on-time, but in the end, my client directed his frustration at me, and was unhappy with my service.
I find it incredible on one hand that I completely succeeded in: locating the home of my clients dreams, negotiating a fantasticly low purchase price for it, secured a historically rock bottom interest rate on his California mortgage loan, and positioned my client to take advantage of the first-time homebuyer credit, and that my client could be unhappy with me. When I look back on this transaction, I will take away the one thing I should have done more forcefully, and that is to insist on realistic expectations, and not allow my clients' hopes to prevail over what can happen. It's tough to take a hit from a client I expected to receive tremendous endorsement and referrals from, over something I had no control over. Expectations should not only be discussed upfront but need to be repeated throughout the process, no matter how much your client wants to abandon them.