Approximately 1.5 million sellers per year take advantage of an employer-assisted relocation, according to the Employee Relocation Council. Buying one of these listings involves a different procedure than you’d ordinarily expect.

One of the hardest parts of making an offer on a relocation listing is that it can take three to five business days to get a response to your offer from the relocation company. The sale procedure differs from one relocation company to the next. But, generally, the process goes like this.

If the relocation company has a commitment to buy the seller’s property, the buyer’s offer is made to the relocation company, not to the owners who may still be living in the house. The relocation company could be located out of state.

In some cases, the offer is negotiated verbally between the owner — assuming the relocation company hasn’t already purchased the property — and the buyer. Verbal contracts to sell real estate aren’t binding until they are signed by all parties.

The contract and any counteroffers are then sent to the relocation coordinator, either by overnight mail or via e-mail. The contract is then reviewed to make sure that it’s acceptable and that no signatures or initials are missing.

If the relocation company hasn’t already bought the property from the owner, the company draws up a contract mirroring the terms and conditions of the contract verbally negotiated between the buyer and owner.

After that has been signed by the owner and relocation representative, the relocation rep signs the buyer’s purchase contract and sends it back to the listing agent. The time it takes for a buyer to receive the contract signed by the relocation company depends on how complete the contract is when it’s sent for review and signing. …CONTINUED

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Until the contract is signed by the relocation company and delivered to the buyer’s agent, the property is still for sale. Another buyer can make an offer. A listing agent is required to present any and all offers to the seller. So, it’s important to do everything you can to expedite the process by providing as complete a contract as possible to the listing agent so that it can be forwarded to the relocation company.

Make sure that your agent calls the relocation company’s listing agent to find out what relocation company requirements must be complied with before an offer can be accepted. For instance, the relo company might have a multipage addendum that needs to be a part of the contract and signed by the buyer.

The relo company might not accept an offer unless it’s accompanied by a preapproval letter from a lender or mortgage broker. The preapproval letter might need to include that a loan application has been submitted by the buyer, that the buyer’s funds needed to close have been verified, that the buyer’s income and credit have been checked and the that buyer doesn’t need to sell another property to close the sale.

Relocation companies often won’t accept offers made contingent on the sale of another property. But, they might consider an offer made contingent on the close of the buyer’s property sale if an offer has already been accepted and all the contingencies removed. In this case, the relo company will need copies of the complete contract that confirms the sale of the buyer’s property.

At the closing of a relocation listing sale, the relocation company signs the seller’s closing documents, including the deed transferring title to the buyer. Usually, there is no warranty regarding condition of the property. The relo company may or may not provide inspection reports at or before an offer is accepted.

THE CLOSING: Regardless, buyers should include an inspection contingency in their contract.

Dian Hymer is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting, The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer’s Guide," Chronicle Books.


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