Selling your home is a complicated process involving many steps. And while you might want to celebrate after receiving a good offer, an offer is not a done deal.
According to Reator.com, the average sale takes about 50 days from offer to closing. A lot can happen during that time, and knowing what could go wrong at each stage can help you increase your chances of finalizing a successful closing.
Reasons why pending home sales fall through
1. Mortgage is denied
With over 88% of home buyers financing their homes, St. Petersburg realtor Estelia Mesimer says that one of the most common reason why a pending sale falls through is the buyer’s mortgage application is denied.
Buyers will often submit a letter that they’ve been pre-approved or pre-qualified for a loan. While a pre-approval letter isn’t a guarantee, it goes further than a pre-qualification letter, which is simply an estimate of how much the bank believes the buyer can afford. To receive a pre-approval letter, the lender has typically checked the buyer’s credit, verified their documentation, and approved them for a specific loan amount, according to Investopedia. Neither letter, however, guarantees a mortgage will be approved. There is always the possibility that a buyer has a change in their status, such as losing a job or acquiring additional debt. If there’s a financing contingency in the agreement, the buyer could walk away without penalty.
2. The home gets appraised lower than the sale price
Before a buyer can obtain a mortgage, the lender will usually have the home appraised to ensure that its value is consistent with the sale price. If a home appraises lower than the purchase price, a bank may decline the mortgage or require the buyer to contribute additional cash to make up the difference. A low appraisal is common during a seller’s market when housing inventory is limited, reports USA Today. Buyers often get in a bidding war, raising the price beyond the value that the appraiser assigns. If the difference between the offer amount and appraised value is substantial and the buyer can’t come up with more cash, they’ll likely use the financing contingency clause to walk away.
3. The buyer can’t sell their existing home
Some buyers look for a new home before they sell their current home. If they find a home they love, they might write an offer and include a home sale contingency. This means that if they don’t sell their home within a specified period of time, such as 30 or 60 days, they can pull out of the deal. A home sale contingency can be risky for sellers because there’s no guarantee that the buyer will sell their existing home. If you’re agreeing to a home sale contingency, consider the current market conditions. The average Days on Market (DOM) metric will give you some insight into how long it can take a home to sell.
4. Major issues surface during the home inspection
Buyers will often require a professional home inspection so they don’t inherit any major repairs, and the inspection could reveal issues you weren’t aware of. The buyer may use those findings to renegotiate the purchase price. If the inspection uncovers issues that the buyer feels are too extensive — such as mold, foundational issues or roof damage — they might use a home inspection contingency to back out of the deal. If your home requires significant updates, then consider making them prior to listing. You can also increase your chances of closing if you disclose major repairs upfront.
According to an Open Door article (https://www.opendoor.com), there are proactive measures sellers can take.
Be selective — offer price isn’t everything.
It’s easy to be drawn to the highest offer, but you may also want to consider the likelihood the deal will close. What contingencies are included in the deal? How could those impact the process and timeline? For example, some sellers require a pre-approval letter and proof of funds for the down payment before accepting. A strong pre-approval letter and a ready down payment are good signs that the buyer will be able to obtain a mortgage without a problem.
Complete a pre-inspection
Before putting your house on the market, consider getting a pre-inspection. This step will alert you to potential problems that could hinder the sale of your home. An inspector will provide you with a list of repairs you can make before you sell. The average home inspection costs around $326, according to HomeAdvisor.com. This may be more necessary if you have an older home, where major repairs are more likely.
Consider saying “no” to home sale contingencies
If a buyer submits an offer with a home sale contingency, you don’t have to accept it. Of course, rejecting a home sale contingency brings the risk that the buyer won’t qualify for the mortgage without the sale of their existing home. Another option is to accept the offer and include a “kick-out clause” in the contract, according to Investopedia. This allows you to continue to market the property and accept offers from other buyers. If you do receive another offer you want to accept, you must give the first buyer a specified amount of time, such as 72 hours, to remove the home sale contingency and continue with the contract.
Provide a fact sheet to the appraiser
An appraisal is based on objective facts, such as square footage and comparable sales in the neighborhood. However, there are some factors that affect your appraisal that may be more subjective, such as the appraiser’s impression of where your home falls within the range for your location. Provide them with a list of improvements you’ve made to your home, recommends CNBC. List any repairs you’ve done since purchasing the home, such as replacing your furnace or installing a new roof. Some of the improvements that might be overlooked in an appraisal include the installation of high-end appliances and custom built-ins.
Bottom Line: A lot is at stake when a property goes under contract – not least of which are the hopes and dreams of a new buyer turning a house into a home and a seller successfully completing a sale. The more you know about the pitfalls of buying and selling a home, the better your chances of getting what you want.
St. Petersburg Communities
If you’re interested in any of these of communities or live in one of them and are thinking of selling, call Estelia today at 727.686.2859.
Greater Pinellas Point
Historic Old Northeast
Historic Roser Park
Isla del Sol