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You Have To Stand Apart(ment) Somehow

, , , , , | Legal | November 21, 2021

I found a well-paying job as a software engineer in Berlin and naively believed that I wouldn’t have any trouble finding an apartment in the largest city in Germany.

As it turns out, the competition for vacant apartments was FIERCELY competitive and applying was akin to buying raffle tickets. Each apartment showing would have approximately twenty to thirty people piling their applications onto a tower of other applications, only ONE lucky applicant receiving the apartment. And as I would leave, I would pass by another crowd of thirty-plus people appearing for the next appointment showing. To gauge the level of competition I was up against, I posted a fictitious advertisement for an apartment — no photos, crappy part of town, more expensive than usual. Twenty-four hours later, there were 315 messages in the site inbox!

I found myself living in hostels, and out of desperation, I decided to try something innovative. I posted an advertisement offering a €2,000 reward to anyone who was either moving and willing to give up their apartment to me or otherwise knew someone else with a vacant apartment they were willing to give me.

As I should have guessed, this attracted a number of aspiring con artists. I say “aspiring” because either I have the word MORON stamped on the back of my head or they’re accustomed to swindling third-graders.

Message #1: “Send the reward money in cash to [post office box] and I’ll help you out!”

Message #2: “I own an apartment in [Area]. Meet me at [Restaurant], bring the €2,000 in cash with you, and we can discuss the terms of the lease.”

Message #3: “I have an apartment I’m ready to move out of. Send the reward money to [bank account number] and I’ll give my landlord a three-month notice, and it’s all yours!”

Message #4: “My mom owns an apartment. Give me the €2,000 and I’ll have her hold it for you!”

I ended up amending the advertisement to say that the reward would be paid AFTER the keys and signed lease were in my hands and I was physically in said apartment. This drastically whittled the responses down to people who actually did have an apartment they were planning to vacate.

Fortunately, I ended up finding an apartment, and ironically, the girl who gave it to me insisted I keep the €2,000.

A Forty-Thousand-Dollar Whoopsie

, , , , , | Legal | November 13, 2021

I am a real estate attorney and I handle closings on home sales, estate sales — basically anything related to home sales. I have an acquaintance who also does the same thing, so we occasionally meet up at closings, etc. He related this story to me about ten years ago.

He is handling the estate of a man who passed away and left his house to his twenty-five-year-old son. After paying off the remaining mortgage, property, and estate taxes, the son is left with proceeds of about $40,000. My friend draws up a check and gives it to the son. The son is very polite during the whole process and thanks him for his assistance, which has taken several weeks to process. He leaves the office with the check. About a minute later, he comes back in.

Son: “Hey! I was just wondering, instead of this check, would you be able to do an electronic deposit of the proceeds to my checking account?”

Attorney: “Oh, sure, that’s no problem. Just fill out this form—” *pulls a form out of his drawer and hands it to the man* “—and fill out the banking information and all your details. After I enter it into my system, I can process the payment.”

Son: “Oh, great. How long will this take?”

Attorney: “Not long at all! Once you complete the form, I just type in the information into the system and submit the funds transfer. Then it takes twenty-four to forty-eight hours for the deposit to hit your account. Since today is Wednesday, most likely you’ll have the money by tomorrow, but no later than Friday.”

Son: “Perfect, let’s do that!”

They complete the process, which takes about fifteen or twenty minutes. After they’re done, the son thanks the attorney and goes on his way.

Jump ahead a little over a week, and my attorney friend starts getting a bunch of calls from people he’s written checks with during the past week to ten days.

Caller: “Hey, [Attorney], that check you wrote me bounced!”

Attorney: “What?! Are you serious?”

Caller: “Yes, for certain.”

Attorney: “I can’t understand. There’s plenty of money in my account. It must be a problem at the bank. I’ll call them and let you know what’s going on.”

He got almost a dozen calls just like this.

After calling his bank, he found out what had happened. That man who left with the check for only about a minute used the mobile banking app on his phone and made the deposit that way. Then, he came back in, got the electronic transfer money, and ended up with $80,000 instead of $40,000. He then immediately closed his account as soon as he had the money, got a bank check for the balance, and left for somewhere in Europe the next day. This all but wiped out my friend’s checking account. He had almost a dozen check payments that he had to reissue, which took him several weeks to do.

My attorney friend tried for weeks to get the money back, but they were unable to trace where the guy — or his money — had gone, other than that he’d fled the country to Europe, and how they found that out, he didn’t know. He filed a claim with his bank that the check had been fraudulently deposited, but as of the last time I spoke to him a few years ago, he still hadn’t got his money back; it was still being worked on.

He did change his procedures, though. He tells all clients now what their options are for receiving their money, but once they choose one and leave the building, their choice can’t be changed.

Lesson learned, and by me, too! I’ve never encountered this issue, but I follow the same process and am insanely careful about financial procedures in my office.

Not Your Mortgage, Not Your Decision

, , , , , | Working | November 2, 2021

We are viewing a house. What we didn’t realise from the photos is that the entire ground floor is tiled. Every inch is covered in large beige floor tiles. Being a miserable day, the floor is cold and slippery on top of looking pretty miserable and dull.

The estate agent, who has been overly positive about everything, finally mentions the floor.

Estate Agent: “Don’t you just love the floor?”

Wife: “Err, perhaps.”

Estate Agent: *Turning to me* “It’s made by [Designer I’ve never heard of].”

Me: “I’m sure it’s lovely. Not really to our taste.”

Estate Agent: *Gasps* “You’re not planning on taking it up, are you?”

Wife: “Well, not straight away, but with our children, we would probably prefer carpet.”

Estate Agent: “No, no, no. I couldn’t possibly sell it to you…. unless you promise not to do that.”

Me: “Sure, we promise.”

Estate Agent: “Phew! Well, that’s a relief.”

The tiles were the first thing to go in the skip after we renovated. We ended up with a nice wooden floor in the kitchen and dining areas and a much more warm carpet in the living areas. We never looked back.

Putting Up A Pretty Poor Showing

, , , , | Working | November 2, 2021

A female friend of mine and I are going out for a walk as we often do. This time, we are walking around a developing housing area.

Friend: “Ooh, look! They have show homes! I love looking round show homes.”

Me: “You know, I’ve been considering moving over here. It looks nicer than it does online.”

Friend: “Can we look round a house?”

Me: “Yeah, that would be fun.”

We go into the office and I explain what sort of property I’m interested in. Luckily, they have a show home of that style. The agent initially gives me the key but looks at my friend and announces that she will join us.

Agent: “Large windows, lots of natural light. Kitchen is on your right.”

Friend: “Nice, this would suit you.”

Me: “Yeah, I like it.”

Agent: “Living room and garden.”

Friend: “Good space for your BBQ.”

Me: “You’re just hankering for an invite.”

We go upstairs.

Agent: “The third bedroom, perfect for a nursery. Do you two have children?”

Friend: “Oh, we’re not together.”

Agent: “Of course, of course.”

She leads us around the house and we head back to the office.

Agent: *To my friend* “So, how would you be financing the property?”

Friend: “Oh, it’s not me. It’s [My Name].”

Me: “Yes. Mortgage, but I would be interested in part exchange.”

Agent: “Good. Our part exchange program is detailed here.”

She gives a flyer to my friend, who then passes it to me.

Agent: “We have an excellent package available.”

Friend: “Okay, but it’s him that would be deciding. I’m just here for moral support.”

Agent: “In my experience, even if the man is paying, it’s the woman choosing.”

Friend: “Yes, but it’s his house.”

Agent: “His house, your house… It could be a fantastic home for you both.”

Friend: “I’m going to step outside.”

Me: “Okay, thanks.”

I finally got some sense out of the agent once she actually talked to me. I bought from another builder, but what you know? My friend did become my girlfriend. We’ve lived in our new home for five years now.

When You Are Your Own Worst Enemy

, , , , | Right | October 29, 2021

My spouse and I are renting out our condo and are looking for prospective tenants. We have an application form, and on it, we ask basic questions, such as monthly income, references, etc.

One lady came in for a viewing and had a rather entitled attitude from the start. She told us that she and her partner were going through a messy split and that she was looking at some places to live — the situation was made more complicated because she apparently part-owned a house with her ex. However, under the references part of our application… she literally put herself!

Her logic was that she didn’t have any since she owned a home, but I’m sure there would have been something else she could have put! We decided to not go with her.