Pat Kennedy - Your Washington, DC Real Estate Connection


You'll Think I Made This One Up! But You Couldn't Make This One Up!

Last Tuesday, I wrote an offer.  It's a really good offer on a house that's been on the market for a while.  It had nice, but messy, tenants who made it challenging to get into.  The listing agent had a terrific virtual tour posted, and I had some buyers who were very interested in seeing it.

Finally, last Sunday, the tenants allowed an Open House to be held between 4:30 and 6:00 PM.  We got there at 4:30.  It took a couple of days to get stuff together, and Tuesday afternoon, the listing agent picked up the contract at my office.  

Now, this was not going to be a normal situation.  You see, the seller lives in Sri Lanka.  The agent, who is one of my favorite colleagues, explained to me that there could be some unusual communication challenges.  

Yeah, right!

I had no idea.

So here's the story -

I did an email scan, in addition to giving the listing agent the hard copy.  I sent it to her so she could forward it easily to the sellers.

She did.

When she, didn't hear anything after a day, she tried to call but couldn't get through.  Her seller finally called her on Thursday to say his electricity died while he was downloading the file.  He only got 8 pages of the 35 page contract downloaded.  He couldn't get a kerosene delivery for his generator until probably Friday morning, so he might go into the nearest village to try to find a Kinko type place.

This agent is very wise, and thinking this scenario was a possibility, she sent them a detailed summary of the offer in a first email, followed by my file.  So at least he got the gist of things.

She had another conversation with him late yesterday.  Still no kerosene.  No Kinkos or Internet Cafe in his part of Sri Lanka.  He's working on it. 

He did tell her over a crackly phone line that he liked the offer.  We've sort of got agreement on everything, and we're waiting for the papers to come back, perhaps by carrier pigeon.  

With a slightly different cast of characters, I'd be pulling my hair out right now.  I'm working with a great listing agent, and fortunately, I know her well enough that I'm sure what she is telling me is absolutely true.  And my buyers are patient people, although I'm hoping I won't have to try it beyond some time Sunday.   

When I read John Adams a couple of years ago, I was struck by how we take for granted instant communications on telephones and email.  During the Revolutionary War, with Adams in Paris and messages from his wife or Congress taking between 6 and 9 months to cross the Atlantic, problems worked themselves out somehow. 

This could take between 6 and 9 days, and I think we should be able to work things out in that time frame! 

Comment balloon 23 commentsPatricia Kennedy • November 03 2007 07:58PM


Patricia- 35 page contracts? WOW! Talk about a ton of paperwork. Our contract to purchase are a total of 6 pages sometimes 7 or 8 with extra addendums. We do take for granted all that we have here. We need to be more grateful. Katerina
Posted by Katerina Gasset, Get It Done For Me Virtual Services (Get It Done For Me Virtual Services ) almost 13 years ago
Katerina, wait until all the Washington lawyers retire and move to Florida - then your forms will get longer.  So appreciate 6-8 pagers while you can!
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) almost 13 years ago
Nevada has a 10 page contract but with disclosures it totals about 35 pages.  Sri Lanka?  Is the listing agent positive the seller is legit?
Posted by Mary Warren almost 13 years ago

Oh 35 pages.. It must be a MAR (Maryland) contract?!  A DC contract is only what 10 pages; plus addendums and disclosures.. 26 ish pages??

Last month we had to wait 8 hours for the sellers to sign the final HUD (they were in Cambodia). 

How did we survive before Blackberries?? Did they even sell Real Estate then?!?!  LOL


Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) almost 13 years ago
I love that John Adams book. I've had to deal with out of country sellers too, that's why it's good to have good agents on both sides, goes smoother. Then with the relocation companies it takes several days too. When Pfizer left Ann ARbor this summer I had to wait 18 days to get a written acceptance back, 7 days on the verbal but I trusted the agent and she stopped showing the house.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 13 years ago
In real estate licensing school Patricia they said everything in contracts needs to be in writing. You say over a crackly telephone we "sort of have an agreement." I love living in the "globalized" 21st century!
Posted by Gary Woltal, Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth (Keller Williams Realty) almost 13 years ago
Patricia, You must not have spent much time living or traveling in third world countries. Having personally lived or visited so many countries where God dropped his dirty socks, makes me believe your story as simply life outside living in the great USA. Thanks for the post and if possible vacation where the main mode of transportation is four legged some time.
Posted by KC Coonc, Bellingham Commercial Real Estate (Windermere Real Estate/Whatcom, Inc.) almost 13 years ago
I can relate, I have a friend who lives on an island in the carribean, and they having rolling blackouts daily. 
Posted by Gary Miljour, Mortgage Originator NMLS Licensed in AZ and NC (American Financial Network, Inc. NMLS#207208) almost 13 years ago
Doing business in the Third world requires lots of patience.  I remember a transaction that dealt with a wire transfer to a third-world country and the money had been routed to a bank that no longer existed!
Posted by Eric Kodner, CRS, Madeline Island Realty, LaPointe, WI 54850 - (Madeline Island Realty) almost 13 years ago


You're clients really are patient, probably because they are working with 2 experienced, professional Realtors. I'd like to see 2 newbie discounters hold this deal together. The seller should thank his lucky stars. Many buyers in this situation would just go on to the next house.

Posted by Susan Peters, The Better it Looks the Better it Sells (Dove Realty Inc.) almost 13 years ago
Patricia, if you don't want to wait that long, I'll happily courier the documents myself over to the Sri Lankan village to get the process moving along.  Will you cover the costs of the rest of my Southeast Asian vacation?
Posted by Brian Block, Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate (RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President) almost 13 years ago
Patricia-aren't global transactions fantastic.  Some of the things we take for granted here just don't exist in other countries.  Some of my favorite former clients now live in Katmandu and I love the fact that they still have a 703 area code! 
Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 13 years ago
Patricia--We are very spoiled here aren't we? It is hard to imagine life without cell phones and instant messaging. Remember high long distance charges? Sounds like you are working with an agent that is top notch. Hope it gets easier...Thanks for sharing the reminder as though the world is changing, sometimes we will have to wait for the world to catch up.
Posted by Teri Eckholm, REALTOR Serving Mpls/St Paul North & East Metro (Boardman Realty) almost 13 years ago

We are very spoiled by the ease of our communications locally.  And yet, I dealt with an owner/agent who took 2 weeks locally to get everything ratified and still didn't get me back the correct paperwork!  It's amazing we get anything through sometimes...

I used the Regional on my last offer and I have 55 pages worth of contract, addenda and disclosures to MongoFax around.  I know because I number them in the upper right hand corner so that when the changes occur we can refer back to that page.  Saves my life...

Now this carrier pigeon idea has some merit..... hmm..... 


Posted by Josette Skilling (Keller Williams Capital Properties) almost 13 years ago
Hi Patricia,
In this age of instant communication, this would be difficult for most agents and clients.  Good luck with the pigeon, it might be the fastest way to get it done.  LOL. 
Posted by Cynthia Tilghman, Realtor® Onslow County NC Home Specialist (Kingsbridge Realty, Inc) almost 13 years ago
I sold a house this year while my clients were in Phuket, Thailand, and then sailing around for a month. It was extremely hard to get in touch with them (we had to wait until they reached a port). Luckily, I suggested that they give their son power of attorney before they left, which they did, so after we agreed verbally, he could sign everything on their behalf. Whew! No carrier pigeons for me!
Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) almost 13 years ago

Heiy Patricia, You got an offer. At this point I'm willing to get offers on horseback.

Hope all will go well.

Posted by Maria Couto, Realtor with "Results That "MOVE" You' (RE/MAX Premier) almost 13 years ago

Just warn the listing agent and prepare the seller that being an out of country seller that 10% of the proceeds of the sale will be held for taxes! This delayed a sale I had an offer in on for 3 weeks because the seller wasn't warned about the federal tax code and out of country buyers.

Posted by Respect Realty LLC, Brokers - Oregon / SW Washington Real Estate (Respect Realty LLC) almost 13 years ago


That is some story! Using carrier pigeons? Boy, sometimes we do take things for granted with the technology we have here.

By the way, thanks for dropping by my blog and commenting!


Posted by David Dee, Real Estate - San Gabriel Valley (L.A.) & N. Orang (RMX REALTY) almost 13 years ago

Patricia, this does serve as a reminder of how fortunate we are.  Communication is something we take for granted - and an outage of just a few minutes for updating the servers at ActiveRain drives us bonkers. 

I literally gasped at Katerina's comment about 6 page contracts.  We haven't seen those in at least 30 years around here.  In fact, 35 pages is a short one, for me!

Posted by Margaret Woda, Maryland Real Estate & Military Relocation (Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.) almost 13 years ago
Patricia - you nit the nail on the head when you talked about trusted agents. We're only as good as our word - and word gets out whether our word is good or not - and that's as applicable around the corner as around the globe.
Posted by Sharon Simms, St. Petersburg FL - CRS CIPS CLHMS RSPS (Coastal Properties Group International - Christie's International) almost 13 years ago
Well, try reading a 28 page offer I fax upside down!  No, I mean blank sheets of paper coming through!  That was my first experience with our fax machine.  I was in the same state so I had NO excuse!  It was corrected, but I'm not laughing about it yet!!!! 
Posted by Natalie Langford, Winchester, VA Real Estate (Realty Negotiations) almost 13 years ago

Patricia - Like you said,you are working with a great listing agent who you know very well and your buyers are patient - Bless their hearts. I know for a fact that if you didn't know the listing agent and if your buyers were cranky and impatient people,this blog would've been like five pages long with a lot of ranting in it. But I am glad that's not the case. Great post.

Posted by Lanre-"THE REAL ESTATE FARMER" Folayan, I don't make promises.I deliver results.SOLD HOMES (Keller Williams Select Realtors-Buy a home in Washington DC. Sell a home in Washington DC) almost 13 years ago