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This promotional offer comes as the result of an incident I experienced in 2010.

Here is the story:

In 2010 we all found ourselves in an unpredictable financing market, a time of transition of appraisal rules, financial upheaval, and general confusion on the part of the public and lenders too. Appraisers started adapting the rule changes as best they could, but outcomes for borrowers become unpredictable.

I had been working with a young first-time home buyer in Norwalk. We had found a charming colonial in walking distance to the train, and had successfully competed against 10 other simultaneous offers to put the property in contract (the listing agent had employed the strategy of pricing this estate property to provoke quick offers, and it worked). The property needed some work, since it had been lived in by an elderly person who had not been able to keep up with it in some respects. Overall the buyer and I saw it as a home and a nice value.

It seemed like simple success. But then...the appraiser from the lender came through. Although the house appraised well with respect to market value, the appraiser gave it an "average minus" condition rating.

So, now a problem develops. On the one hand the bank is saying the property is worth the price...but...they won't make a loan on a property with a condition rating less than average. The appraiser sent along a list of thing she thought would make the house nicer.

Now what?

The seller was an 80 year old person who had inherited the house and did not want to make repairs. The listing agent did not want to orchestrate a long list of repairs either. If for some reason the buyer did not close, they would have made a lot of effort, and possibly for no good reason. As inconsistent as the financing market is today, the next appraiser might not want any of these items done. Also, the seller had cash back-up offers, so there was no reason for the seller to pay to have a long list of repairs done. They could just take one of the other offers.

That was ok for the seller, but not so great for the buyer. The buyer wanted the house.

The Buyer also did not want call a contractor and pay a lot of money to get all those items worked on. It was not even their house, and if the purchase did not work out, they would loose all that money. Also, they really didn't have a lot of extra money to make repairs at contractor prices. It was there intention to renovate after they owned the house, carefully, efficiently, and do some of the work themselves to save money.

So now you have an impasse. A buyer who wants a house, a seller who wants to sell, but repairs that no one can reasonably make, leaving you with a blocked transaction.

What do you do as a Realtor? Accept defeat? Look for a different house?

As a Realtor, the simplest thing to do would have been to assist them different home. That would have been the simplest solution (and most likely a bit more profitable). However, this client really liked this house a lot. It was in walking distance to the train, and more charming than typically possible in the price range. So because of this, we responded with this:

The buyers became involved "handyman-purchasers." I loaded my vehicle with my most of my tools. The buyer went to Home Depot and purchased a dehumidifier and paint, and brushes. I transitioned from Realtor, to Realtor-handyman".

They scraped chipping paint in and out, painted, cleaned, and helped with miscellaneous small repair items. While they focused on that I worked on some other handyman items. I re- hung a door, glued a countertop, made an dysfunctional exhaust fan work, refitted some siding, replaced some small missing wood trim, mixed some mortar and re-pointed brick front steps, re-sheet rocked a damaged wall section, glued back some bathroom floor tile, and re-grouted a bathroom floor. .

It took us three or four visits to spruce things up before we invited the appraiser back.

All the while this very nice young couple, with tired muscles, kept asking: "John, are you sure this is going to work? We are doing a lot of work on this house that we we don't own ...we really are going to end up owning it. right John?"

"I think so," I would say, "Although we are all on new ground here".

Another problem was that the basement had water in it, which was also on the appraiser's list. To attempt to improve this, we extended plastic drain pipe leaders to the outlets of the roof gutter downspouts in order to prevent the rainwater from falling directly against the foundation. Finally I had to go up on the roof to clean the gutters, which were full of at least a decade or so of that mud-like substance that accumulates and clogs gutters. I went up there with a long garden hose one sunny day and cleaned them out as best as I was able.

Candidly. when all this started, as a business person accustomed to wearing a suit, I really felt I had been handed a difficult situation. I could hardly believe I was really going to become a handyman to get this done. You do what you need to get the job done in this business, but this was taking it to a new level.

Carefully watching my footing up there on the wet roof, soaked from head to toe with water and smattered with gutter dirt, I remember thinking of a day I had spent with a been driven around showing homes in my buyer's chauffeured limo. I smiled and thought to myself: "Up here in on this roof, at this moment, I am at the other end of the spectrum of Realtor experience."

Sometimes in life what seems like adversity is actually more like a window opening. How surprisingly good it felt that day on the roof drenched and dirty resolving this otherwise defeating problem!

It confess I felt wonderful there in the mud, the water, the sunshine!

It is true that what appear to be hardships can turn out to be valued experiences. There seems to be a lot of that kind of catharsis being invited into our lives today because of the economy. Today I am appreciative of this experience.

Fortunately, the story ends happily. The appraiser was happy with the work we hand done.

All of this of course was possible because we had very open minded buyers, sellers, and a very cooperative listing agent. The remarkable listing agent, was there to hold that ladder for me that day on the roof. She also made a run to home depot that day for some more supplies.

She took this photo for me with her phone camera when I was on the roof.
Thanks Donna !


Now, I can't afford to promise every buyer an exact duplicate of this experience in terms of the amount of time spent. However ... from this day forward through all of 2011, buyers who feel they need some handyman repairs after they purchase, will get some. You are surely welcome to a full eight hour day of handyman work. Either we will help you paint a ceiling, clean a porch, solder a pipe, etc, or we will contribute a full day eight hour day of professional handyman services to you. It might be fun to get your Realtor into working clothes. Just print this page, and consider it a coupon.

A handyman can cost $50-$80 an hour these days
(depending mainly on the location)!

This is just a small way of saying, Thank you for your business!

John Herman, CERHM
(Chief Executive Realtor Handyman)