“Ripeness”: Legalese for “First Things First”

Even though it’s been decades since I practiced corporate law, I use the training practically daily.

To pick just one example, I consciously apply the legal doctrine of “ripeness” to prioritize decision-making ” both mine and my client’s.

In the legal world, “ripeness” means that courts will not consider an issue until it’s “ripe” to be decided: that is, it’s a here-and-now problem (vs. hypothetical), and has been distilled into a clearly focused, legal question.

In real estate, it means tackling things in order, and not speculating about multiple, possible scenarios.

“What If There Were No Hypothetical Questions?”

So, when a new property comes on the market, it’s natural for prospective Buyers to want to know why the Seller is selling**; whether the home is likely to attract multiple offers ” and if so, what it might fetch; the age of the roof, etc.

But, none of those things matter if the client doesn’t like the home.

Which is why step #1 is invariably to get my client in to look as soon as possible.

Plan B: for me to preview and report back.

If my client likes the home (or I think they will), there’s plenty of time to answer their other questions.

If they don’t ” which is more often the case ” none of those questions matter.

Or, to invoke another legal term, “they’re moot.”  🙂

**While I understand why Buyers (always, always) want to know the Seller’s motivation, they should understand that good listing agents are never going to divulge that ” or at least, anything that will harm the Seller’s interests.

So, the most I’ll offer as a listing agent (representing the Seller) is some variation of, “the Seller needed a bigger/smaller/different home in another location,” or an even more innocuous, “it just was time for the Owner to sell.”

See also, “Bell Curves, Home Showings, and the Odds of Getting an Offer:  Why Home Sellers Shouldn’t Get Too Excited About a First Showing“; and “Proper (& Improper) Purposes of Realtor Previews.”

About the author

Ross Kaplan has 19+ years experience selling real estate all over the Twin Cities. He is also a 12-time consecutive "Super Real Estate Agent," as determined by Mpls. - St. Paul Magazine and Twin Cities Business Magazine. Prior to becoming a Realtor, Ross was an attorney (corporate law), CPA, and entrepreneur. He holds an economics degree from Stanford.

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