Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Seven Days in May

I thought a snapshot of the last seven days in the Cocoa Beach and Cape Canaveral real estate market might be interesting. I was expecting to find less activity than I did. In the seven days since last Wednesday, May 18, twenty nine residential properties have gone under contract in our two cities, five of those single family homes. Ten of those properties were on the market less than two weeks.

At the other end of the spectrum, one of the condo units received an accepted contract after being on the market for eight years with eleven price changes. The asking price when contract was accepted was $165,900. At one time during the eight years they were asking $290,000. This is a classic example of denial being dragged kicking and screaming into acceptance of reality. Price it right and it will sell. Some sellers take longer than others to accept that.

During the same seven days, twenty properties closed, nine of those for cash. Prices of the closed properties ranged from $69,000 for a one bedroom Marlin Apartments unit to $785,000 for a beautiful open water single family home in Cocoa Beach. One of the closed condos was another long-listed unit that has been on and off the market since 2008. It was listed for $1,195,000 in 2008 with gradually reducing prices until it closed fully furnished for $690,000 last week. At $318 per square foot, that should be a reality check for the other units in that building asking far above that number but I'm guessing it won't.

I attended one of the more memorable and lengthy closings of my career last week. The closing agent was slower than most and took about twenty to thirty minutes to read through the settlement statement and loan documents while the buyers signed. Sellers had signed earlier and weren't present. When she finally finished I questioned whether the May condo fee had been paid by the sellers since there wasn't a credit on the settlement statement. She responded that she didn't know and would have to find out. First time for everything but shocking nonetheless especially considering that a condo's management must complete an estoppel for every sale showing what a unit owes the association if anything on day of closing.

She left the room closing the door and we discussed what the difference would be. If sellers had not paid May's fee they would owe the buyers $288. If the sellers had paid May's fee, the buyers would owe them a refund of $182 for the remaining twelve days of May. Twenty minutes later the closing agent returned and said that she had forgotten to add the condo fee to the statement and that the buyers owed $16 to the sellers. Huh? The buyers gave her a $20 bill and she disappeared again to get change. Another twenty minutes passed without a peep so I went roaming the halls of the attorney's office and found her in a back room. She said that the lender was preparing a new disclosure reflecting the changed amount. I returned to the closing room and when she came in a little later with the new disclosure and the $4 change I asked how she came up with $16 for 12 days of a $470 fee. She responded with "Can we just let it go and sign this as it is?" She admitted that she had made a $1500 error on an earlier closing that day. We exited the office two hours and ten minutes later for a closing that should have taken less than thirty minutes and that was completed with an acknowledged error on the statement.

Our takeaway: Buyers, sellers and agents (when you are allowed a copy) please read the settlement statement carefully. Mistakes happen. Sellers agents I would ask that you choose the title company/closing agent carefully. Most are professional and pleasant but there are a few out there that are difficult and can make closings feel like torture. Another story next post involving two title companies (one good, one bad) and another difficult closing.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” __NapolĂ©on Bonaparte