“The odds of an electronic lockbox being defective vary directly with how far a new listing is from the agent’s office.”

–Murphy’s Law, Realtor edition.

ebUnfortunately, I learned that lesson firsthand this morning, driving 40+ miles round-trip to place an electronic lockbox on a new listing.

The silver lining (of sorts):  the Minneapolis Area Association of Realtors (“MAAR”) office was on the way, which is where I stopped by to swap out the defective lockbox for a new one.

P.S.:  And yes, the problem could have been avoided if I’d tested the lockbox before leaving my office.  But — at least until today — I typically only did that before showing listings as a Buyer’s agent, when I know I’m going to be opening multiple lockboxes in quick succession.

See also, “Murphy’s Law & the Buyer’s Walk-Through Inspection“; Murphy’s Law:  Showing Condo’s”; “Murphy’s Law — Realtor Edition“; and “Murphy’s Law:  ‘For Sale’ Signs.”



When One Word (“PROPOSED House”) Looms Large

Test your knowledge of encroachment issues, and see if you can detect a problem in the photo above.

Give up?

The northeast corner of the home on the pie-shaped lot clearly encroaches on the lot immediately to the east.

Make that, the lot underneath the Minnetonka home my clients were imminently about to close on this past June.

Hold Everything (for about 2 months)

The problem came to light literally hours before closing, when I pulled an aerial map from county records to help my clients figure out who owned the (overgrown) trees on the west side of their soon-to-be lot (they wanted to trim them immediately after closing).

Step #2: notifying the Buyer’s lender, the listing agent, Seller and both title companies that the closing would have to be delayed while we investigated.

I then raced to Minnetonka City Hall, to see if they had a survey pre-dating the home’s construction that could resolve the issue (note:  sometimes, when satellite photos aren’t taken directly overhead, the lot line can be distorted).

Two Lucky Breaks . . . and One Bad One

Luckily, there was a survey of the lot and home on file (on microfiche).

surveyEven luckier, the surveyor who did the work almost three decades earlier was still in business — and, incredibly, answered on the first ring when I called from City Hall!

The surveyor then commenced to offer his instant analysis of the city survey (image at right) that I emailed him.

His take:  while 90% of the time the home is located where the “Proposed House” indicates, 10% of the time . . . it isn’t.

Understandably, that wasn’t a risk my client was willing to take, and the closing was cancelled.

Next: Lots (and Lots of) Negotiation

Amidst the upset and disappointment, what came next is a bit of a blur.

However, the gist was that the Buyer and Seller agreed to share the costs of a survey to verify whether or not there truly was an encroachment issue.

One week later, the answer came back in the affirmative (all together: “Uggh!!”).

That set off another round of negotiation, spanning a week, that ultimately led to an Amendment stipulating that the Seller was to execute an easement with the neighbor; the Buyer’s legal fees to review the easement would be borne by the Seller; and the closing would take place — subject to the review of the Buyer’s lender — once all those things had happened.

Not So Fast . . .

That last, protective clause turned out to be stumbling block #2:  six weeks after the cancelled closing, and two weeks after a final version of the easement had been agreed to by all parties, the lender delivered the shocking news that their underwriting department considered the easement a material impairment . . . and rejected the mortgage. 

No mortgage, no deal.

After the requisite expletives and venting, my Buyer contacted several other lenders, one of whom expressed 100% confidence that they could fund the loan, notwithstanding the easement.

Less than three weeks later, the new lender blessedly did just that.

The home closed in mid-August, and my clients moved in with their kids the next week.

Their planned tree-trimming has been postponed till next Spring . . .  🙂

P.S.:  Thanks to Edina Title’s Marty Henschel for expertly helping to navigate several of the above challenges.  Not to mention my clients, their new lender, and the Seller and their advisors for their patience wading through everything.


“Buyer Hereby Removes Its Inspection Contingency”

Whether or not you insist on a clause like the one above in any post-Inspection Amendment depends.

Specifically, on whether you’re a Buyer or a Seller.

Quid Pro Quo

To preclude the Buyer coming back with more issues while the Inspection period is still open, Sellers should insist that any concessions they make be explicitly in exchange for the Buyer removing their Contingency.

Buyers who want to keep the door ajar . . . omit such a clause.

P.S.:  Once the Buyer’s Inspection period expires, the point becomes moot.

See also, “The Difference Between a Home Inspection Addendum and a Repair List“; “Handling Issues That Come Up on Inspection:  Two Options“; and “Home Buyer’s Inspection: When to Bring In Reinforcements.”


How Jeb Bush Could’ve Been Elected President

by Ross Kaplan on September 25, 2016


Dealing with Bullies. Or Not.

[Editor’s Note:  The views expressed here are solely those of Ross Kaplan, and do not represent Edina Realty, Berkshire Hathaway, or any other entity referenced.]

I know, I know:  hindsight is 20-20.

And I generally don’t condone violence.

But, imagine what would have happened if — in response to any one of Donald Trump’s emasculating, condescending put-downs at the Republican debates — Jeb Bush had left his podium, walked over to Donald Trump . .  . and punched him in the face.

Taking the Bull(shi**er) by the Horns, or
The Punch Heard ‘Round the World

After the uproar had died down — and Bush had been released from jail on battery charges — he would have emerged as The Man Who Put Donald Trump in His Place (if not a political folk hero).

No more demeaning wimp or “Jeberly” jokes, no self-deprecating (but hilarious) Emmy awards cameos as a moonlighting chauffeur — and likely, no more broadsides from a chastened Trump.

And no, I’m not recommending that Hillary do something similar tomorrow night . . .

P.S.:  On the contrary, veteran political observers will recall that it was Hillary’s Senate opponent, Rick Lazio, who paid a price for leaving his lectern and appearing to bully Hillary in their 2000 race.


New & Improved(?) Curb Appeal

September 25, 2016

“Golden Door?”  More Like Canary Yellow Not every change to a home’s curb appeal is necessarily an improvement. Personally, I prefer the more traditional version of this Fern Hill Colonial (below) to the more recent, minimalist look (above). With/Without The differences? (besides door color). Siding color (white vs. beige); shutters (without/with); and red lawn chairs […]

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True or False: To be a Teardown, a Property Must Be in Poor Physical Condition

September 23, 2016

Real Estate Misnomers One of the biggest misconceptions in residential real estate is that, to be a teardown, a home must first be falling down. Hardly. All “teardown” means is that the home is less valuable than the land underneath it. That can be the case for at least two reasons other than physical condition: […]

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Inexpensive Ways to Punch Up a Home’s Curb Appeal

September 23, 2016

Prospective Sellers can (and do!) spend thousands improving their home’s curb appeal. Most popular items:  new landscaping, cement steps and walk, and fresh paint. However, less ambitious Sellers may want to consider a more limited (and inexpensive) tactic:  a new front door and/or door color. While it can be tricky to get right, a well-chosen, […]

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President as “Glorified Real Estate Agent?” What’s So Bad About That?!?

September 22, 2016

“Designated Survivor” Plot It’s not a spoiler alert if the spoiler is in the TV show’s title. So, just in case you missed the premiere episode of “Designated Survivor” last night, the premise is that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (played by Kiefer Sutherland) suddenly becomes President when the Capitol building is destroyed […]

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