One of the more vexing and frustrating aspects of managing a Texas real estate transaction is what we agents call “clearing the Option Period”. The Option/Inspection Period is the agreed upon number of days during which a Buyer can unilaterally terminate the purchase contract. It’s usually 5-10 days.
The buyer doesn’t need a reason. It’s a straight up right to terminate, for which the seller is paid a nominal fee, usually less than $500.
The problem is that, per the current contract language, a 7 day Option Period ends at midnight on the 7th day. I don’t know about you, but whether you’re a buyer, seller or agent, none of us like being up at 11:45PM waiting for an Amendment and wondering if the deal is going to crater. It’s one of the stupidest things we do, and nobody likes it, but it happens repeatedly.
A proposed change to the One to Four Family Residential Contract (sales contract) will move that deadline to 5PM on the final day. This makes me very happy. Agents need to learn to take care of business during business hours. Real Estate is not a 9-5 profession, but neither is it supposed to be the graveyard shift at the end of every option period.
From a listing agent standpoint, it’s not our problem, or the seller’s, if the buyer agent and buyer can’t complete their “due diligence” within the first few days of the contract. We do with our buyers because we’ve already talked to the inspector and know his availability, and we have plumbers, electricians, HVAC people who can do followup evaluations same or next day. Every buyer agent worth his or her salt should be providing these resources and pre-established vendor connections to their buyers. Those who can’t or won’t should get out of the business.
Buyer agents should also have pre-informed the buyer about the sort of things that will show up on the inspection report. It’s not rocket science. We all know that a home in original condition built in 1987, even if well maintained and in good working order, is going to produce what I call an “ugly inspection”. Much of it will be things that have coded out, and don’t meet current code. Good buyer agents know and explain all of this up front, before the offer is even sent, so that the buyer doesn’t freak out and panic upon receipt of the inspection report.
As a listing agent, I’ve told buyer agents not to expect to reach me after 9PM on that final day. That’s about when I go to sleep, because I generally wake up by 5-6AM. I’m not sitting up until midnight of the 10th day of the Option Period because the buyer can’t execute their due diligence tasks in a timely way.
Advice to Buyers, because now your deadline is even tighter:
When selecting a buyer agent, don’t be stupid about it. Don’t work with the first one who contacted you as an “internet lead”. Interview several referred by family and friends or co-workers, and ask questions about their production, the type of homes they sell, and whether they have a good vendor team ready to help you through your inspection process if needed, as well as the after-purchase repairs and updates.
If they are the kind of risk-averse agent who places their own liability-avoidance interests ahead of their best possible service to you, move on. If the prospective buyer agent makes excuses to you about why they “can’t” recommend anyone specific but instead sends you to Yelp or the “Yellow Pages” (do those still exist) to find a lender, inspector and other vendors, keep looking. It’s an untalented, do nothing agent practicing a “Functionary” mindset (see: Functionary vs Fiduciary Realtor). You won’t be well served by that agent.
Find a good buyer agent who knows how to guide you through the Option Period in an efficient and timely way, and who has pre-established ongoing relationships with the team of people you might need to help you meet your 5PM deadline.