5 Home Purchase Cancellation Prevention Techniques for U.S. Home Buyers

The real problem in the housing industry right now is not lagging sales or falling prices. With lots of supply and rock-bottom interest rates on mortgages, demand from buyers is shaping up. The real problem now is in cancelled contracts.
In its December Pending Home Sales Index released last week, the National Association of Realtors said that pending home sales remained strong at 96.6 – still well above the same month a year earlier when the index was at 91.5. (An index of 100 is considered to be a healthy market.)
The index measures the number of contract signings made in a month and is viewed as a forward-looking indicator because contract signings in a perfect world lead to actual sales either the following month or month after. So, with all the positive numbers here, why aren’t we seeing a boom in closed sales? The answer is  simply that deals are falling through.
NAR says that one-third of Realtors are reporting that contract failures remain a big issue. This is no small potatoes. Now that we know more buyers are ready to bite, we can’t let you get blindsided or discouraged by contract failures. Here are five home purchase cancellation prevention techniques:
1. Have enough cash: A no-brainer, I know. Lenders are much stricter these days about how much cash they want to see at closing. You should know how much you can bring – for both down payment and closing costs – well in advance of your house hunt.
2. Prepare your paperwork now: Agents say that many times contracts fall through because the buyers didn’t have their paperwork ready when it was needed. To save your deal, make sure you’ve got all your financial information in line before you make an offer: proof of income, assets, debt, and proof of down payment, and letters you may need to explain gaps in income or employment.
3. Tighten up your finances: Just because your offer was accepted doesn’t mean you’ve got the house. You still need to get a loan (unless, of course, you’re independently wealthy and plan to pay cash). Long before you go house hunting, be sure to visit with a loan officer or mortgage broker to get a picture of your finances so that you’ll know whether a bank will lend to you and how much.
4. Understand your comps: Many deals are falling through because of appraisals coming in below the purchase price. While there’s nothing an agent or home buyer can do about a low appraisal, you can do something about the offer price. Make sure you know your market inside out. Pull good comps that are similar, local and recent. Get a good inspection and be sure that any defects are accounted for in some way. You need to know about any little thing that may come up to negatively impact the appraisal the bank will use to determine the home’s value.
5. If buying a short sale or foreclosure, educate yourself on these processes in advance: These types of transactions take much longer to complete in many cases. But when they move, you need to be ready to move with them. That means you should first know what to expect before making your offer, and then follow through on what is expected of you every step of the way.
Extreme caution, hyper preparedness and highly informed home buyers are the only combination that’s going to make a dent in the large portion of contract failures the market is experiencing. While we can’t control lenders, we can control our readiness to respond.


Real Estate Japan Note: This article is by Gino Blefari, CEO of Intero Real Estate. Intero is a Real Estate Japan partner and the leading realtor in Silicon Valley.

Photo credit: Bidgee via Wikimedia Commons

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