Local. It’s all the rage these days – local food, local business, local anesthesia. Okay, so that last one doesn’t apply, but you get the point. Heck – even Blacksburg has gotten into the act.Looking through the lens of supporting local business, or eating locally grown food, it’s easy to see why local is important. But when I recommend wanting my clients to work with local vendors – folks like home inspectors, or lenders – I’m not doing so because it’s the catchy thing to do. I’m doing so because it matters to getting things done. An example:
Recently, we listed a beautiful home in Christiansburg, on an acre, for $269000. The owners had remodeled everything, and done a fantastic job – they’d made a master suite downstairs, complete with a sliding barn door, updated the kitchen with beautiful counters and crosscut tile floors … it was stunning for the price point, and a home the sellers had hoped they’d be in for years to come, until life took them in another direction. When the house went on the market, activity was high, and it went under contract quickly, in 3 weeks, at 96% of list price. While the sellers gave a bit of a discount to be sold quickly, it was obvious that demand was high on a property that was in good condition, and priced well. Everyone was happy.
As part of the closing process, the buyers had an appraisal done. By all accounts, the appraised price should have been at least the sales price, if not higher. But when it came back, it came back almost 20% lower than the sales price – a full $7000 HIGHER than what it had been purchased for 5 years ago, and before the upgrades had been made.. Unbelievable. If the house had been 20% over priced, we wouldn’t have had more than a dozen showings, and gone under contract, so quickly, in a strong sellers market. Somewhere a mistake had been made; everyone – except for the appraiser and the bank – agreed on that point. Of course, appraisals are a bank’s way of making sure that the value of a property is in line with the market, so this low appraisal meant the bank wouldn’t make the loan, and the buyer couldn’t buy.
After some time of going back and forth, both the buyer agent and I realized that the bank was just looking at the buyer as a number. The buyer was a number, the house was a number, and it didn’t matter the circumstances. It didn’t matter that everything else in the market said the value was the sales price. It didn’t matter that the house had gone under contract quickly. It didn’t matter that the buyer’s income supported the sales price. The bank wasn’t local, the underwriters weren’t local … the whole transaction was just a small number that made up a bunch of much bigger numbers. So we shifted course, and the buyer agent went to a local bank. The representative there, who knew the agents on both sides, spoke to the borrower at length, and within 36 hours we had FULL approval. Not preapproval, not conditional approval, FULL approval.
Moral of the story? Local matters. The parties involved knowing each other matters. It doesn’t always make the difference, but in this case – and in many cases – it did. Real estate is about people – not numbers, not algorithms, but people. It’s a home, a place to create memories.
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