Out of State?

Ok, you are reading the Property Blotter, so you are probably at least considering buying a home in Lake Oswego, Oregon, which is a fantastic place to live right outside of Portland, Oregon. What Dianne and I know is that many of our readers are keeping up with the local market from out of state. We know this from our web statistics, and also because we end up working with many of you!

Recently the subject of guidelines or advice around making a purchase from a distance came up, so I thought I’d address it a bit here. The biggest point I want to make is that you need to gauge your tolerance level for trust, and go from there as you contemplate next steps. No Realtor in their right mind wants to proceed forward in a business relationship with someone who does not trust them, and you need to make sure you feel very good about a Realtor’s representation of you, and then, once you make that “trust” decision, believe in them and let them do their best for you. This is what’s best for everyone in any typical transaction.

* The first piece of advice I’d give is to make sure you have your own Realtor. You say, “Of course I’d have my own Realtor, what are you talking about?” Many people do not understand the way brokerage works in real estate in general, and in Oregon in particular. In Oregon, a Realtor can indeed represent both parties in a transaction. The potential for this is disclosed to all parties, including the Seller when the Listing is begun, and when a Buyer makes an offer it is disclosed at that time as well. If this choice is made by the Buyer (you), please just take note that the Seller’s agent has been working with the Seller to obtain the best offer possible from the beginning of the Listing, up until meeting you! Though I have participated in this kind of transaction many times in good faith, there is not that nice, clean/clear feeling of a line between the representation of the Buyer & the Buyer’s interests… and the interests of the Seller. If you are needing to feel that absolute trust that you probably are, considering your geographical distance, I’d play it safe and use your own Buyer’s agent.
* BUT, you ask, “Won’t I get a better deal on the home if there is only one agent?” The short answer is “No.” …not according to the existing listing contract, which is between the agent and the Seller alone. But… “Not necessarily” is the most correct answer, as the Seller’s agent does not need to agree to lower their commission at all during negotiations unless they’ve stated in the listing that they have agreed to do so already. Now, does it sometimes happen that a price gets lowered as a result of the agent and the Seller agreeing to modify their commission agreement with each other in the middle of a transaction? Yes. But the important thing to remember is… they may not decide to adjust price that way at all, and are under no obligation to do so. That does not mean that additional agreements between them cannot happen, but, well, enough said. You get it : )
* So, we’ve established that trust is essential between Buyer & Realtor in a long-distance transaction. The very best scenario is when the Buyer (you) can visit the home at least once before an offer is made. If you can take a week or a few days/weekend and visit, touring with your Realtor, that is optimal. If this is not possible (and technology makes long-distance choosing so much more do-able as you can review photos, tours and property information… even “Google-Earthing” neighborhoods… all online before making your decision), then the second-best thing is to make sure that you, the Buyer, are at the property on the day of Inspection (Ideally, you see it in person AND are at the Inspection : ). You have ten business days, in most instances, to inspect the property, and potentially back out of the deal receiving your earnest money back should you find something that is a “deal-breaker” for you during those inspections. The third best thing is to have a local friend (if you have one near the property you are purchasing) look at the home with your Realtor, and give you their own feedback in addition to photos and videos you are receiving, and information you are receiving from your Realtor. I had one physically disabled Buyer client in California who was unable to see the property at all during the entire process until after the deal was closed and they moved up… so “moving day” was the first actual experience of the property “in person” for this client. Did it all work out, you ask? Yes : ) Satisfaction and happiness were the result, but I made sure to include a close friend in this area during every step of the process, providing additional comfort for my Buyer client.
* “Closing” (or signing, really) can take place out of state as well if necessary. Make sure to pad your closing timeline a little in your offer to allow for any overnight shipping of documents etc, before the property can fund and record. But, some escrow companies have offices in many states, so that’s one way you can be accommodated. There are also notaries who can come to your home and help you in that way. The best scenario, of course, is when you can make it here to Oregon (in this case) to sign in the escrow office handling your transaction. I nearly always accompany my client at the closing table to be an extra set of eyes, answer questions, smooth over or have corrected any last-minute mistakes, and most importantly…. be a comfort to my Buyer clients who are making (for most) the biggest purchase of their life.

There is so much more we could talk about with regard to long-distance transactions, but let’s pick this up in another post! As always, please feel free to contact me for any help at all in your search for a Portland area or Lake Oswego home!

Very Best,
503 318 2116