Monday, August 26, 2013

What's Good for the Goose...

Recently a buyer of mine made and had an offer accepted on a HomePath property. For those of you who might not be familiar with HomePath, it is the entity that manages FannieMae and other government-backed, foreclosed properties. To bring you to speed on how this normally works, the property is usually listed with a traditional real estate company and agent.  The agents "should" be organized and structured to handle the volume of homes/offers and nuances that come with these properties.  There is quite a bit of addenda, online bidding, deadlines, pre-approvals, proof of funds letters, etc. that have to be executed in a tight time frame in order to even have your offer considered.  All of these needed items requires agents who are organized and efficient, in order to meet the strict deadlines imposed on bidding and closing these properties.  Under normal circumstances, it is usually the buyers' agent that has to hustle to gather up required documentation, overnight and timestamp documents, inspect and close on the government's timeline.  Not this time and apparently not now.

My client had his offer accepted online through the HomePath website on a Thursday.  We were told that we would immediately have the needed documentation to complete and that it would need to be turned in by 5:00 the same day. This was all via automatic email message.  Based on the first offer submitted, my client already had a proof of funds letter that reflected his original offer, an earnest money check that reflected his original offer amount (10% of purchase price) and all signed documents and contracts required.  Needless to say, the revised documentation promised never arrived.  My assistant and I called and emailed the listing company and finally, at 3:30 on Friday the addenda arrived via email and a request for additional earnest money made out in certified funds to the closing attorney (we had yet to be told if they would accept our attorney of choice) and they had a request for an updated proof of funds letter.  We were told via auto-email that if these items weren't received by 6:00 on Sunday our contract would be terminated.  My client works (that's why he can buy a house) and could not sign paperwork until Saturday. By the time he got off on Friday his bank was closed so he could not get a new check nor could he get his bank letter verifying funds on hand. Per the email it also said our five day window for inspections had started with the email acceptance.  Now mind you, at this point we are going on an automated email and have no seller-signed contract.

I immediately call and email the listing company and let them know that the docs will be in their email by 6:00 on Sunday but the check and letter will be there first thing Monday morning. I receive NO response. Not a confirmation as requested, nothing.  So we proceed.  I had previously set up inspections as if our bid was accepted, so we inspected on the following Wednesday--a full 5 days after our offer was accepted.  Guess what? Still NO seller-signed contract.  Part of the stipulation of our offer being accepted was that we close within 10 days.  Well, half-way there and still NO seller-signed contract.  I or my assistant have emailed and called 3-10 times a day and have gotten no response from the listing agency, other than they are trying to get a signed contract and have not heard from HomePath either.  I finally broke down and circumvented the listing agency thinking that they were dragging their feet, only to find out that it's our government. Shocking, I know!!

I left a message for HomePath first of the week and was told that I SHOULD get a call back in the next 72 hours.  I did end up with a phone call two days later. The representative left a standard, vanilla message and I immediately called back. No name was given for me to request, no supervisor, no case number, nothing. So you can imagine when I called back, I experienced the same circle.  I explained the situation, the demands that they had placed on my client as it related to deadlines, money and documentation and was told that a supervisor would call me back and that it would move up the chain.  When I asked for a reference number or person's name, the woman on the other end, threw an attitude and demanded I leave a message in order for my call to be returned. I explained that closing was supposed to occur before their 72 hour window and she hung up.  Thank God our tax dollars go towards customer service's definitely paying off.

So here we still sit, two days before "closing" and still no contract, no phone calls and no response to our questions. I did finally get someone at the listing agency to answer my call and she said that she has 6 outstanding contracts that HomePath has not sent back signed. Her HomePath contact told her that they were in training and were behind.  Really?! Wow! I should have known this would be a debacle when it took 3 days to even get an appointment with instructions on entry to the home--mind you, it's a vacant, foreclosed home.

How in the world can we be expected to meet government guidelines and put our clients out there to risk their monies, time and energy when our own government can't keep up with it's business at hand.  I could go on and on and I am sure this is not the only department nor the only issues and I can assure you that my list of frustrations with this process goes on and goes deeper.  Where do we go from here? I'm tired of being the goose...


Friday, August 23, 2013

Weighing In...

Jake, Maddie and I recently traveled to Florida for our summer vacation and decided that rather than drive, we would enjoy the luxury of flying.  I fly somewhat regularly but usually it's just me, not the entire family.  We have been in dire need of new luggage for quite sometime and after our trip to Montana, Jake vowed that never again would we take that set of luggage with us anywhere. 

I made a trip to Costco for some very reasonable and sturdy Samsonite luggage that consisted of the new, plastic-like material that gives the luggage a hard shell, as opposed to the cloth that we had previously owned and recently threw away.  I thought I had really made a wise investment with my purchase of one large piece and a smaller, carry-on bag, both complete with wheels that rolled in all directions!!  Saturday night prior to our Sunday afternoon departure, we began packing. Jake and I had planned on sharing the "big" bag and Maddie would have the smaller carry-on bag.  We had paid for a checked bag and a carry on bag with our tickets.  As we were packing, I started to vaguely recollect that Allegiant Air had recently implemented a 40lb baggage rule.  You could go over but then you were subject to the "at-airport" fees that are upward of $50 regardless of being overweight one pound or twenty.  This now "big" bag that was stuffed full, needed to be reduced to 40lbs or under.  Once we culled it down to what appeared on the scale to be under 40, the clothing items remaining shifted willy-nilly in the bag--there was room for so much more!!  Maddie's carry-on would not be weighed but then again, only so much would fit in it!  I panicked! What were we going to do?! Jake hates to fly, and this kind of stuff drives him nuts!

In comes the Sunday morning Costco run to purchase yet another carry-on sized bag for my stuff while Jake's clothes swam comfortably around in the large bag that could have easily held another person's wardrobe but for the weight limit.  Bag purchased, we switch everything out before leaving and proceed to the airport and subsequently to the counter to check the bags. 

The line was out the door and at least 40 people deep.  Jake comments on how glad he is that our bags are squared away so that we don't have to deal with the nonsense that others in front of us are going through.  Our turn arrives and the first bag goes on the scale...the "big" bag--OH $H*+!--this bag is STILL 3 lbs. overweight.  The second checked carry-on goes on the scale and its only 35 lbs. but stuffed so fat that the zipper is screaming for mercy.  The gal behind the counter offers the suggestion to switch items from "big" bag to a smaller bag...great idea but no room in the smaller bag.  Jake is now breathing loudly through his nose and color is creeping up his neck.  We are THOSE people despite our efforts otherwise!!  Bags are unzipped, clothes, toiletries removed...those items of course can't go in our carry-on where there is room, because they exceed the liquid ounce requirements!  It's like doing Algebra homework for the first time, as we try to put together the right formula!  Finally, the gal behind the counter "passes" our bags and puts them on the belt as we realize we have no identification on any of the bags! Now, Jake worries that our bags will be profiled due to our piss-poor attitude at the gate. I assure him that airport workers don't profile...the TSA assures us of that!  We move on to the gate, wondering if our luggage will make it or split under the pressure.  As for the big bag, we are certain that someone has plenty of room to climb inside and stow-away to Florida.

My questions are a) why can't airlines just charge per pound? It's obvious they don't care about how much you carry, regardless of what they say.  No reason for someone who's three pounds over to be charged the same as someone 50 lbs. over as it appears is the current case. b) why can't your bags be an aggregate amount on direct flights? If you purchase and pay to have two bags checked, one could be 60 lbs. and the other 20 lbs...who cares what goes where if it really IS about safety? c) if weight is so important why aren't there "official" scales at strategic areas of the airport where you can weigh your bag without hundreds of eyes piercing your back as you hold up the checking-in process?

Safely landed and at home it's a little more humorous to reflect on the situation, but how unfortunate that it was the beginning memory of our summer vacation. If airlines want passengers to continue to fly and to travel, then common-sense requirements need to be established for everyone's benefit and safety.  Maybe I'm just missing some of the tricks to traveling...I'm sure it's just a matter of time before people are going to be charged for how much they weigh...Thank goodness I started back at the gym last week, I've got a trip to Vegas in the near future! :)