We’re ready to make an offer on a house. The listing says it has a “flexible” closing date. What does that mean, exactly? – CONFUSED
DEAR CONFUSED: It’s always a bit of a challenge when I’m trying to write an offer on a listing where the closing date is “flexible”. The goal is to go in with as strong an offer as possible, but this terminology offers no guidance from the seller; it’s pretty much the least amount of information that a listing agent can provide.
Typically, it’s reasonable to expect that the length of closing a seller desires will tend to reflect their circumstance. On a vacant property, I’d expect a seller would want to close immediately, or at least as soon as possible. Families on the other hand, tend to prefer a window of about 60 to 90 days. If you’re buying new construction, the builder might set a tentative closing date, and look for the freedom to move it forward or back as the home gets closer to completion.
When it comes to the nitty gritty of your offer, agreeing on a closing date is often the second-largest challenge (after hammering out a price). If you have an idea of when the seller wants to close, you can aim as close as possible to that target. To reduce the ambiguity around closing dates, my suggestion would be to have your agent call the listing agent and try to get a feel for the seller’s expectations. With a few more details, you can tailor your offer to the seller’s needs and hopefully improve your chances of reaching an agreement.
We’re moving to the KW area from overseas. We might be looking to buy a home, but wonder if it’s better to rent for a year, so we can get to know the area. What do you think? – LONG HAUL MOVER
DEAR LONG HAUL: The question of whether to buy or rent depends on your comfort level. I’ve had a number of clients arrive from abroad. They sometimes have an initial reluctance to purchase, which isn’t surprising since they’re unfamiliar with the area. This is where an experienced local agent comes in. A professional who gets to know you can put you on the right track much faster than if you were left to discover the city on your own. Personally, I spend a lot of time uncovering my clients’ needs, which really seems to expedite the process.
Your agent will need to understand your expectations clearly. What are you looking for in a home? Many folks say they want a “reasonable commute”, but what does that mean? Some think anything less than 60 minutes is reasonable, while others want to “arrive in five”. You might love the outdoors, want specific school programs, or use public transit. The elusive “perfect fit” is different for everyone. Also consider your time frame. If you’re not sure you’ll be staying in the area for long, renting may be your best bet (though most landlords expect a one-year lease). Higher-end rentals are commonly posted on the MLS system and your agent can help you find them. Before you decide whether to buy or rent, make sure you do your homework. Factoring in market changes and sales history, you may find that renting for a year ends up costing you more than if you purchase a home with the right guidance.