Sellers Are Asking for Odd Contingencies in This Hot Housing Market

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The combination of limited inventory (thanks, coronavirus) and low mortgage rates has made today’s housing market one in which sellers have the upper hand. Not only do sellers now have the option to command higher prices for their homes, but they can also ask a lot more of buyers when closing a deal.

Some sellers, however, may be taking things to a bit of an extreme in that regard. In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports some sellers are making rather outlandish requests.

One California seller, for example, is insisting the cat that’s lived in the home for three years stay put. To put it another way: Anyone who buys that house will be stuck with a cat.

Meanwhile, a seller in Philadelphia who’s taken to hanging a fake skeleton outside the door year-round is insisting anyone who buys the house do the same. Not only that, a buyer must agree to change the skeleton’s clothes regularly. (You really can’t make this stuff up.)

The question is: Should buyers actually be agreeing to such crazy demands? At what point is a real estate deal just not worth it?

Buyers should know their limits

As a real estate investor looking to snag a home in a competitive housing market, you may have to make some concessions to close on a property. In fact, you may even have to be willing to agree to waive certain repairs should an inspection uncover them.

But there’s a big difference between agreeing to fix a failing roof yourself and adopting a pet you don’t want, or to not only maintain a hanging skeleton on your property, but dress it in different attire. And if you land in a scenario where you’re asked to do something truly outlandish, you’re probably better off passing on that purchase — even if the home is priced right and the rate you can get on a mortgage is low.

Don’t forget that certain oddball requests could actually take away from your home’s value. For example, if a seller makes you sign a contract agreeing to keep an eyesore of a tree in your front yard, that landscaping feature could be a deterrent when you decide you’re ready to sell. And even if you choose to retain your property and rent it out, a feature like that could make it more difficult to find a tenant or affect the amount of rent you’re able to ask for.

As such, you’ll need to look past the weirdness factor and think about the financial end of things, because the last thing you’ll want to do as an investor is agree to a contract that ultimately hurts your bottom line.

The bottom line

While sellers may have the upper hand in today’s housing market, there’s really a limit as to what they should be able to get away with. And making you adopt an animal or style a skeleton is just plain beyond the realm of normal.