Real estate agents say these small details derail deals

Deals have soured by overlooked issues like service lights, unpaid bills, and gas lines

Living New York’s Kobi Lahav, Coldwell Banker Warburg’s Annie Cion Gruenberger and Corcoran’s Jessica Kaufman
Living New York’s Kobi Lahav, Coldwell Banker Warburg’s Annie Cion Gruenberger and Corcoran’s Jessica Kaufman (Facebook/Kobi Lahav-Real Estate Sales/Leasing NYC | New York NY, Coldwell Banker Warburg, Corcoran, Getty)

Jessica Kaufman almost lost a deal because of a little yellow light.

The Corcoran broker was walking a buyer through the final showing of an Upper East Side apartment last December when the washer and dryer lit up during the run dry cycle, signaling that the machine was in need of service. 

“Things like that can kill a deal,” Kaufman said. 

The buyer requested that the seller shell out hundreds of dollars to have the machine serviced, but the seller refused, claiming the washer/dryer worked just fine and that they were prepared to walk if the buyer didn’t drop it.

Instead, Kaufman played the middle man for several weeks as the two sides argued over what to do about the machine.   After multiple calls and reassurances — including recording videos of both the wash and dry cycles running several times — they finally agreed to the sale. 

It always happens on any deal. Someone’s always going to harp on something,” Kaufman said. “Sometimes it’s not a rational discussion, but it’s an intense thing when you’re buying and selling homes. ”

Small details are often the largest impediments to closing a deal.  

In Kobi Lahav’s case, one of these overlooked factors did kill a deal. The sales director at Living New York was in the final stages of a sale of a multi-family investment property when the bank flagged his client’s loan application. 

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A collection was out on her credit for an unpaid $140 cable bill. 

“Now this is someone who has a perfect score otherwise and is buying a property for over $2 million,” Lahav said. “I ended up selling her something else later on, but that deal was dead on arrival because she didn’t pay her cable bills.” 

Seemingly minute details, like an overdue cable bill, can  derail mortgage applications, William Raveis senior executive Melissa Cohn said. Other risky financial moves include leaving a job before a loan application closes or making a large purchase with a credit card. 

Another common deal disruptor is gas lines. Sales can’t close without a working gas line, and sellers often either turn them off out of caution or don’t realize the gas line was disconnected until the last minute. 

Coldwell Banker Warburg broker Annie Cion Gruenberger said a gas line sent her into a “mad scramble” in the final stages of closing on an apartment she listed as part of an estate. 

Gruenberger said she was escorting the buyer through the final walkthrough of the apartment two days before closing when they realized that the stove and oven weren’t working. The owners had arranged for ConEd to turn off the gas to the kitchen appliances, and Gruenberger had to clamber to figure out a way to save the deal. The sale ultimately went through when the parties agreed to escrow some funds until the gas was restored. 

In all of these scenarios, it’s imperative agents stay calm and find a way to move forward. 

“Someone’s gotta give to move forward,” Kaufman said. “Ultimately, they blame the broker anyway.”

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