Talking to Your Realtor

With so much focus right now on housing affordability and on the financial capacity of the buyer to buy, you would think the only thing holding someone back is whether they have money, or access to it. But in fact there are other reasons why a buyer may have to wait.

Most recently, I met a man and woman who seemed very ready to buy together and told me they were pre-approved for a loan, and that they could get the letter of pre-approval I asked for. After getting them to a table where we could talk, and presumably write the offer on a house they seemed most interested in, it turned out there was more information not previously revealed. Buyers, first of all, please realize that when a Realtor asks certain questions, they’re not just prying. There’s a reason for finding out, for example, what your marital status is. Just know that California is one of the several community property states in this country, and if you’re still married—that means your divorce decree is not yet finally granted by the court—that new property you’re going into escrow with will also be owned by your current spouse.

See this Marital Status flyer from North American Title.

If you’re planning on buying with your new partner, that could complicate things. If your current spouse is not willing to quitclaim his/her interest in your new purchase, and you don’t want him/her on title with you, that could completely prevent the transaction from going forward, and might have certain consequences to you depending on the terms of the contract—losing your deposit (in this market often at least about $10,000-$12,000) could be one of them.

So please, disclose information concerning taking title to all parties at the outset of your working relationship. It will save everyone, including you, from transaction problems which might actually be negotiated in some way if known up front.

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