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Hi, Still Living Here, Thanks

, , , , | Working | April 24, 2021

The owner of the house my boyfriend and I are renting has decided to sell. This isn’t the first house we’ve lived in that is for sale, so we know how it goes. The only difference is that this house is a duplex and our neighbor moved out of the other side a few months ago.

First, they want us to agree to a day every other week for them to do a showing. We suggest once a month due to the health crisis and not wanting too many people in our home. We compromise and agree to have the place viewable when they call and give us twenty-four hours heads-up.

I wake up one afternoon and my boyfriend tells me someone showed up for a viewing and asked to enter, but we didn’t get a heads-up so he said no. I’m irritated by this but figure one mistake isn’t a big deal. They showed the other side and left.

Then, yesterday, a little before noon, we were both awake when we heard people outside and I heard someone try to open the door. My boyfriend got up to look out the front while I pulled up my phone and dialed 911, thinking it might be a break-in. I didn’t call yet just in case, and my boyfriend cracked the door open. My heart was pounding, and I recognized the early signs of a panic attack.

My boyfriend’s tone in the following dialogue is extremely polite – much more polite than I would have been and much more polite than they deserved, in my opinion.

Boyfriend: “Um, hi. Can I help you?”

Realtor: “Yeah, we’re here for a showing. Is it all right if we take a look inside?”

Boyfriend: “No, sorry, because no one called us to tell us you were coming.”

Realtor: “Oh. Not just real quick?”

Boyfriend: “No, we weren’t told.”

Realtor: “Well, do you ever do showings of this side?”

Boyfriend: “Yes, when we are given a warning.”

Realtor: “Okay.”

After they left, I texted the landlord and told him that this was totally unprofessional and that I had almost called 911 on the realtor. He wasn’t as bothered as I was and just passed along our message to the realtors. I thought he would be more upset since he wants to sell the place, but I guess not. I calmed down but was upset the rest of the day. Who just tries to open someone’s door and then act like they knocked when someone answers?! They gave us no apology or any sign of remorse.

After the second time someone tried to let themself into my apartment, the landlord gave us permission to put up a “do not disturb” sign. After that didn’t work and it happened several more times, each time the landlord saying he’d handle it, I called the broker myself. He assured me all of his realtors would be told not to bother us under any circumstances. But of course, the story doesn’t end here.

The other day we were doing some reorganizing when my boyfriend and I heard someone try to turn the doorknob. My boyfriend opened the door to find a man all by himself. My boyfriend asked what he was doing and he introduced himself as a buyer, apologized meekly, and walked away. He came back and knocked 10 seconds later.

I told my boyfriend and he reopened the door and the man asked if we were planning to stay if the house was sold and asked a few other questions about the property. As they’re talking, I’m behind my boyfriend fuming with anger since this is the SEVENTH time this has happened. I tried to interject several times, but the conversation ended and my boyfriend closed the door. I was slightly annoyed with him but decided it was probably for the best, because I was definitely not planning on being nice and was going to aggressively point out the sign and how rude he was being. The man left and we heard him walking around the other unit.

We had gotten his name and texted the landlord to make sure he was a legitimate buyer. Although he was, he was there without a realtor and without permission. The landlord said next time to take a photo of him and his license plate and call 911 for trespassing. He also ordered us a doorbell camera. While I’m happy something is finally being done, I’m annoyed it took this long.

This story is part of the Homeownership roundup!

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It’s Time For Calvin To Move Out

, , , | Right | March 16, 2021

The wife and I are in the market for our first house. We meet our realtor outside a house he’s about to show us.

Realtor: “The instructions say, ‘Don’t go near stuffed tiger.’”

Wife: “Stuffed tiger?”

Realtor: “Yeah, the notes say the last realtor got hurt. Had to go to the emergency room.”

Me: “Interesting.”

Confident the realty company wouldn’t put us in mortal danger, we go in to find an eight-foot taxidermied Bengal tiger, claws outstretched. The claws are covered in cotton balls.

Realtor: “Ah, now it makes sense. The notes say the last guy almost got his ear ripped off when he accidentally backed into the tiger’s claw.”

This story is part of the Homeownership roundup!

Read the next Homeownership roundup story!

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Show (Me The Way To Go) Home

, , , , , | Working | March 3, 2021

My wife and I are thinking of moving home. We spot a new build area in a good location, so we arrange a viewing of the show home. We get the tour. The size is great, and the layout and garden are, too, but the kitchen and bathrooms are decorated in a really dark and unpleasant colour.

Normally, if you buy new, you can choose all of this as it isn’t fitted yet. But the sales rep starts to push the show home.

Sales Rep: “You know, this plot is available. As you can see, it is ready to move in.”

Me: “Not really for us, thanks.”

Sales Rep: “Are you sure? It would be a few months until the others are ready, plus you would have to go through the whole long process of picking out tiles.”

Wife: “Actually, we quite like that bit.”

Me: “Could we have a moment to look around again?”

Sales Rep: “Sure. I will head back to the office.”

We chat and look around, and we both agree we like the house but hate the kitchen and bathrooms. We would be happier to wait and get something that works for us. We head back to the sales rep.

Sales Rep: “Hi, you two. Good news! I spoke to my manager and he has cleared a discount on the show home. It’s [a few hundred off]. What do you think? Shall I put your names down for a deposit?”

Me: “We have talked and would like to wait for the new builds.”

Sales Rep: “Are you sure? We get a lot of interest in that show home. You don’t want to miss out.”

Wife: “We are sure.”

Sales Rep: “Well, okay, then. I will add you to the contact list when they become available.”

We ended up buying one of the new homes when they became available, but not before being contacted three more times about that show home. It dropped very little in value and was one of the last properties to sell on the lot.

Real Est-hate

, , , , , | Working | February 1, 2021

When I was working, I was transferred multiple times, and each time, I had to deal with buying and selling homes. What follows is the tale of the worst experience my wife and I had in a real estate transaction.

It began when I was given a four-plus year assignment from Houston to Canada. At the time, my company expected us to sell our house but in a recent policy change, they no longer provided assistance. (I can still hear the HR mantra, “We’re not in the real estate business,” in my sleep.)

So, we hired a realtor to market our house. The woman we chose was a Big Deal in the area. Her ads always described her business as “[Realtor] and Team!” as though she was bringing in superstars off her bench. Plus, there was a property manager associated with the brokerage to make it full-service.

The market was very slow at the time and we ended up leasing the house for two years. Near the end of the lease, we reactivated our agreement with [Realtor]. She recommended an aggressive price and we actually got an offer from what looked like an investment company.

Unfortunately, it was for 5% less than our asking price, which we thought was already low. I called up the realtor’s office to discuss the offer and, for once, got through to [Realtor]. I intuited from her voice that she was startled to be talking to me, but she persuaded me that the offer was okay and that she would be glad to take a 5% cut for one of her houses. As it turned out, this was the last conversation I’d ever have with her; the rest of the time I was talking with browbeaten underlings.

After we signed the sales contract via fax, there were two immediate surprises. The first was that the buyer was not the company itself but a woman on whose behalf they were negotiating, and the contract was flipped to her name. She was soon to be widowed and wanted to move to the area to be near her grown son. No problem.

But the second was that the selling price was raised by $48,000! They wanted to use the extra in a loan for her to put in an exercise pool. [Realtor]’s team assured me this was okay — it was before the 2008 meltdown — and we signed. To be fair, they added a statement that their commission would be based on the original sale price, as we’d get no extra equity. Things proceeded apace.

Then, the closing papers arrived. The first thing I noticed was that our proceeds were much greater than what we expected; all the extra money was listed as coming to us and not going into an escrow account for the pool. And there was a $26,000 charge for “repairs” on the house, a total surprise.

I called [Realtor] and, of course, got a team member. They had no idea what was going on. I called the property manager and she confirmed that no repairs had been done. It turned out that the “repair” company used burner phones and a rented private PO box, so there was no way to trace them. We refused to sign with all the problems — a good thing, as I found out later that we could have been arrested for fraud if we had.

For the next few weeks, we went back and forth trying to get the deal to go through, but the buyer’s realtor would not allow us to get the extra cash into an escrow account. [Realtor] was no help and her team was ineffectual; I had to do most of the leg work myself. Ultimately, I hired a lawyer to handle things. 

In the meantime, we got an offer to rent the home, which we wanted to take. The house had fallen out of the escrow time limit and my attorney informed the buyer that the sale was cancelled. And her realtor told us they would sue!

Two days later, my lawyer contacted me and told us that the buyer had never actually paid a down payment — something [Realtor] should have known — so there had never been a contract. If anyone was going to sue, it was us. That ended things. We got the renters in and eventually reoccupied the house when my assignment ended.

I tried to file a complaint against the buyer’s realtor but [Realtor] wouldn’t cooperate. I tried to find out who had supplied the phony repair bill but got nowhere. And I tried to get an authority to look into the repair company and the buyer’s loan officer, who had been party to all the shady moves, without success.

There is an epilogue. Three years later, I was moved again, this time with the company’s help. As part of the package, we had to pick a realtor that they had vetted and we got a good one. She did everything [Realtor] hadn’t and we got moved without a headache. However, while the house was listed, [Realtor] called my wife and had the gall to ask why we hadn’t selected her. My wife spouted some platitudes about our company’s requirements, but I am less polite. I sent her a long email outlining the problems we’d had with her representation; surprisingly, she never responded.

You Don’t Get Commission If You Don’t Give Us Houses We Want!

, , , , | Working | January 22, 2021

We are looking to buy a bigger home. We know the location, the type of house we want, and our budget. As the area is very popular, it is just a matter of finding one and making an offer quickly.

We sign on with the local estate agents and I drop them a message.

Me: “We are looking for a house with three good-sized bedrooms and a garden in [Area].”

Agent: “Thanks. I will send over the properties I have that match.”

I get an email the next day. One house isn’t quite what we are looking for, one is an apartment, and one is a two-bed house without a garden.

The next day, he sends me another email.

Agent: “So, what did you think of the properties?”

Me: “To be honest, two of the three weren’t what we asked for. The first one was okay but overpriced for the condition it’s in.”

I copy our requirements again.

Agent: “Oh, okay. I will take a look and send you over some more.”

He did, and we started getting daily emails of all the properties they had. The emails were hit or miss to start with and then quickly got worse each time. In less than a week, none of the properties matched what I was looking for.

It just didn’t make sense, given the size of the area alone. We saw many For Sale signs with the agent’s name on them yet so little being sent over by email. Out of interest, I checked their website. I found dozens of houses, all of them exactly what we were looking for and all listed by the estate agent that was supposed to be helping me.

Taking a closer look, all the properties he sent did have one thing in common: they had his name as the contact on them. He had only been sending me the ones he would get a commission on and not the ones his coworkers were working on! I rang the office, confused.

I explained the issue to the agent who answered. She tried to argue with me and tell me that that wasn’t how it worked and that they wouldn’t do it, etc. I sent over the emails and she promised to come back to me.

A few days later, I got another daily email with properties on, but this time, they were far better and from someone different. A few weeks later, I happened to ask what had happened to the first guy. The agent quickly told me that he had decided to move on.