Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Q: We just lost out on a home because another offer had an escalator clause.

What is that? Why didn’t our real estate broker use that? I know an escalator in a store goes up and down and I suppose it’s a way that lets you raise your bid or something.

A: The escalator does have to do with going up. The clause allows a buyer to state that they will pay a certain amount over the listed price, up to a set limit, if it’s necessary to beat out a competing offer on the property. Let’s say the house was listed for $400,000 and you believed it would sell fast. Add the fact that you would be willing to pay more because it’s the closest thing you’ve seen to the type of property you want.

Let’s assume that there is another offer that will be presented at the same time as yours. If you are really motivated to get this house you could include the escalator clause. You might say that you will pay $500.00 over the highest offer the seller receives, up to a top limit of $425,000. If that beats the other offer, you are in contract to buy the house. If the other offer was $1,000 over the list price, you would therefore, pay $401,500.00. That’s beating their offer of $1,000 over asking price plus the $500 extra you promised to pay in the escalator clause.

As to why your broker didn’t suggest it, there could be many reasons. You may have mentioned that you didn’t want to get into a bidding war on a house. You may have indicated that your offer was the most you wanted to spend. It’s possible that he or she doesn’t know about the escalator but I would be surprised if that’s the case.

If you get into this situation again, the most important thing to remember is to be really clear about your own limits. Don’t let the “game” of bidding on a house set you up to spend more than you planned on or can handle. Good luck!

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Q: We are reconsidering our move to Vashon.

I’ve been going out and looking at homes for sale on my own for a few weeks. I can tell if it’s something I might want just by walking around the house, peeking in the windows and checking out the neighborhood. Last weekend a guy came out of a house and really chewed me out. He was really rude! If people are that unfriendly here it may not work for us after all.

A: You use the word rude but you don’t seem to realize that you were the one who was rude. Walking around homes that are on the market on your own is not appropriate. That’s why most real estate signs say “by appointment.” Once you get your home in Bellevue listed you may find out for yourself what it’s like to have strangers wandering around your yard and peeking in windows. That’s totally rude.

As it happens, the house you are talking about is rented. It was a tenant that you upset. Washington landlord tenant law requires that we give a tenant at least 24 hour notice before showing the home. Most tenants are happy to let us show with just a few hours notice but it’s their call. You were not being respectful of his privacy. So, I have to say, it was you who was at fault.

Vashon is a very friendly place, and folks here are always willing to talk to new people and help them settle into our community. But starting off by thinking you can just barge in on someone’s property and disturb them is not the best way to get started. Most Realtors here feel that we have a duty to protect a home’s privacy even if it’s vacant. This is for security reasons and to simply respect the fact that is has been someone’s home.

I rarely “divorce” a client but I’m afraid I can’t work with someone with so little regard for others. I don’t think we would be a good fit. But I wish you luck wherever you end up.