Many deals – despite you doing everything correctly to the best of your ability – reach a moment where an extension is necessary from the seller. It typically is the result of the bank’s attorney not getting the loan documents together as promised or a missing or deficient third-party report such as the survey. But regardless, your deal hangs in the balance if the seller should deny your need for more time. So here are the secrets to successfully getting an extension from your seller.
Give as much advance notice as possible
Nobody likes sudden surprises, and the closer time grows to the closing date, the more excited your seller is about getting the deal done. As a result, they are equally disappointed or annoyed when the timetable is delayed. So the key is to give the seller as much advance notice as possible to set their expectations. Many buyers can see the problem developing, but hate confronting the seller so much that they run it down to the last minute. This only makes the problem worse. Instead, at the first possible suggestion that the closing will need to be delayed you need to tell the seller “I’m growing concerned that there may be a problem is hitting our target date, and I wanted you to be aware of it”. Sellers will appreciate your consideration and the fact that you are carefully watching over the process.
Tell the truth
Lying to sellers never works out – they will always find out the truth one way or another. So don’t even consider making up excuses as an option. If the bank’s attorney just plain screwed up and did not get the loan papers done as promised, don’t lie and tell the seller that your bank officer had a death in the family and that’s the cause of the delay. The seller will probably later tell the banker “I’m sorry about the death in your family” and the lie will be exposed. Instead, just tell the seller the truth of what’s going on – and don’t pull any punches. If you say “the surveyor didn’t get the changes the bank requested done on time” the seller will understand as they have faced the same type of difficulties in the past.
Back it up
But it’s not enough to simply say that the surveyor didn’t get the job done on time. Get your banker to call or email the seller and tell them what’s happened. Ronald Reagan was a huge believer in the old adage “trust but verify” and a confirming email or call will make the seller much more comfortable with the situation. It also helps deflect the blame from you to the surveyor. Nobody likes to be lied to, and the seller will be much more comfortable when there’s no doubt in their mind of what’s happened. It also gives them affirmation that the deal is ultimately going to close as promised.
Don’t do it more than once
If it is at all possible, don’t disappoint the seller more than once with an extension. You need to instead under-promise and over-deliver. You need to “pad” the anticipated closing date to accommodate the simple fact that many people give false promises and take longer than normal. If you truly believe that the closing will happen in a week, get a two-week extension. You are way better off getting two weeks on the front end, then two one-week extensions. It’s a simple fact that most people reach a high level of unhappiness when you have to extend a second time. At that point they may seriously consider backing out of the deal because they have lost confidence in your ability to get the job done.
Having a bump in the road on the way to your closing is a very common issue. It’s not the end of the road and should not be a source of embarrassment. However, you need to follow this protocol if you want to stand the best chance of success and continue on with a win/win transaction.