You got to be kidding me. Excited home purchasers reveal the terrifying experience with a bad real estate agent. Content has been edited for clarity.
“We were looking at buying a house, which our bank was very keen to assist us with by offering us large amounts of money. Commendably, we resisted utilizing the full amount offered, leaving us in wading through mid-range listings for the areas we were interested in.
During our interactions with real estate agents, we were inevitably shown structures that were well outside our ‘absolute top dollar’ price range because they predictably hunted for clues of our ‘real’ price ceiling.
I believe we had fairly simple tastes. We liked the value for money and weren’t particularly interested in, what I termed, ‘look at me’ houses. I was just as happy in a large, old shed with three different extensions in multi-colored zincalume because I would be in a barn-sized air-conditioned garage. Especially if the Dunga shed had 74 power-points, a two-post car hoist, television, refreshment fridge, and pool table inside. I was not out to impress anyone. Being comfortable was what we are all about.
So anyway, I was looking through the listings and found a fancy, architecturally designed mansion by accident and did some cursory searches on its value. I saw it had dropped a ton in price. More searching uncovered a possible drainage problem at the back. As it was a very beautiful home, and because I couldn’t help buying something ‘worth’ one million dollars at half price, I rang the agent.
Let’s call her Miss Upherself shall we?
Miss Upherself: ‘Hello, this is Sandy. How may I help you?’
Me: ‘Hi. I’m interested in that hideously expensive mansion you have listed and I’ve noticed on the flood map that the backyard goes underwater. Is that why the price has been reduced?’
Miss Upherself: ‘Well I’m absolutely certain that map is wrong. (Blah blah, city council, irresponsible mapping data). May I inquire what price range you are interested in?’
Me: (Insert hopeful dollar figure).
Miss Upherself: ‘Oh dear me no, I think you should be looking in other areas. The front door alone is worth 3000 bucks.’
Me: Click. Beep… beep.. beep…
“After my divorce, I sold my property and the realtor I hired was someone I thought was my friend. I had priced it far below the money that had been invested in building a custom house, a show barn for the horses, and fenced with top-of-the-line no climb for 48 acres. This was the first time I had sold a property, but not the last, and I learned a lot along the way on my journey. Anyway, the realtor had been telling prospective buyers there was a contract on my place. This I heard directly from two people who contacted me directly and asked if it had been sold yet. I questioned why they were asking that due to the farm still being vividly for sale. When they said they had been told there was a contract on it I was in total disbelief. What? No, it was still very much for sale. In fact, it sat on the market for a while and I lowered my price quite a bit. I wanted out of the town and on to my next chapter as a newly divorced woman. I was under so much stress and didn’t need this added to it. So after being assured they would testify on my behalf I had to decide whether should I prosecute or make her life miserable.
The next day, after collecting my wits and control over my anger, I marched into her office without any appointment and demanded my keys back. Then and fired the woman on the spot.
I hired another realtor and she sold it to one of the men who had told me what happened all within a couple of weeks.
I found out she and her husband were waiting and baiting me to lower my price to the giveaway level. They were hoping to buy it for themselves. Let that sink in, they wanted my beautiful farm for a steal and lied to my prospective buyers.
This was a farm we had put around 900,000 bucks into and when I sold it, I could only get 379,000 bucks. Location truly mattered. Never move to a town with nothing to offer and people who moved out in droves. Since this experience, I had learned much. One thing for sure was I do not like most realtors. They were cut-throat, lazy, and told you anything to get a contract, liars. Most, not all.
I refused to get a license based on this experience. I preferred to be a real estate investor and call my own shots.
If you want to know what I did, I told key people in their town what happened and let Karma do her deed. The economic bust happened and they lost nearly everything they owned and the bank they tried to get us to invest in, went belly up. Justice worked itself for those who deceive. For me, my investments played very well in my success. I have a wonderful and prosperous happy life.”
Shame On You
“Years ago, when both rents and prices were a lot cheaper, I bought a tiny condo in Arizona. It wasn’t much, but since I planned to live in it, I splurged big on appliances instead of buying the usual ‘cheap condo’ type appliances landlords typically got. I lived in it for a few years, then took a job out of state. I hired a property management company to handle it for me. I rented it out for a year, not making a whole lot of money on it because rents were cheap at the time. After the first year, the property manager gave me a list of things he said I’d need to do in order to make it rentable again. The list added up to a few thousand dollars, so I quickly realized with the low rents at the time plus the property management company’s cut, it wasn’t really worth it to me. So I responded to the Property Manager’s email which said if that was all I could make in rent, I would probably sell it instead.
The Property Manager immediately zeroed in on my washer and dryer for some reason. He said I could not sell with the washer and dryer, but he would be willing to do me a huge favor and take them off my hands. For free of course, because he would be doing me a huge favor. I said I would just give the washer and dryer to the buyer for free. I didn’t understand what the big deal was, but the guy made it sound like it was illegal to do so. He also asked if I had a realtor already. I didn’t, so he referred me to one.
When the realtor looked at my place, she immediately again zeroed in on my washer and dryer and said I could not sell it with the washer and dryer, but of course, she had a friend who could do me a huge favor and take them off my hands for free. I again asked what the big deal was. Couldn’t I just give it to the new owner? She insisted I could not. She then completely lowballed her estimate of what the condo was worth, probably 15 percent less than what I figured it was worth. I realized she was probably going to sell to someone she knew for a huge discount, possibly the property manager, who was so obsessed with my appliances. I told her if it was only worth that much, I would just hang onto it instead, so I wasn’t going to sell. Thanks, goodbye.”
“I just sold my home. My neighbor had been inviting herself into my home every six months for the past few years. She said she was a realtor and had a large cash offer for my house. She knew I was going to sell anyway in the next year because my last child was going to college. There was no ‘cash offer from a serious buyer.’ But she was my neighbor and my kid babysat her kids for years so I gave her the listing. We negotiated from six to four percent I thought, but she made it five percent. I signed it which was my fault. I had town code violations that I bought the house with 22 years previously and was slammed by the town for ‘violations’ up to 100k to ‘fix.’ I went through a nightmare. I told the realtor Douglas Elliman, to drop the price of my home because of the violations. Either the new owners or I would have to deal with it. She dropped the price by 100K bucks.
I said, ‘We’ll renegotiate your commission if I’m dropping down 100k.’
I expected another ‘bidding war’ story but somehow all of my offers just disappeared. Except one. In the meantime my realtor said yes, of course, to dropping her commission because I dropped the price of my house, and ‘She didn’t care about the money, just helping me.’ Well, I just closed today and all the offers of helping me pack, move, toss out, unpack, everything went out the window since she was suddenly sick and/or too busy at her real job to help me do anything, much less drop her commission as well. I found out she had a real job, and she even lied about that while telling me she never lied to me. Ok again. She denied it and said she would renegotiate her commission as whatever, whenever I got on the subject. She hung up on me fast. Then she outright denied saying she would renegotiate if I dropped the price of my home 100k bucks. She said her ‘friend heard it.’
I said, ‘We were alone.’
She got away with it. It was an easy scam and I also knew when someone talked over you and didn’t let you get a word in you should run like someone was chasing you. Elliman hired unprofessional, sleazy, salesmen in Long Island now who just lies to you. And said whatever they have to say to make their sale. At your expense. I was hoping I was her first and last sale because she actually stole money from me and lied about a verbal agreement we actually made about her percentage.
She said, ‘No problem, I just want to help you! I don’t care about the money.’
Wow, she was good. Sleazy move, but I let it happen, so I blamed myself, of course. Dang, I used to hock penny stocks and I saw her hard fast sale coming but she was my neighbor and I was thinking of selling soon. I hope she never does to another person what she did to me- ever again. She made 20k bucks and her sleazy Elliman office made another 20k bucks by misrepresenting everything and not holding true to their word. My fault, but I would do what I could to make sure I was her first and last victim. I was totally fleeced. But I was here to spread the word around.”
“Both experiences were with commercial multi-family specialists.
I was in a horrible property for 14 years before the market turned in the area and was able to get out without declaring bankruptcy. A 44-unit property purchased with too little down was my partner’s idea of a great buy.
In the last two to three years, before the sale, a broker I met through a networking group kept telling me, ‘I will find you the perfect property to exchange into when you sell your albatross.’
He was true to his word, he found absolutely the perfect property at a great price. The only problem was he wanted to double escrow the deal. He was going to purchase at the listing price and sell to me for 100,000 bucks higher. No way. By the way, later in his career, his broker license was suspended due to shady practices — what a surprise.
Double escrowing was not all that uncommon. In the early 80s, I thought I was going to be a joint owner of a big complex. On the day I was delivering my down payment I discovered it was a limited partnership. Fast forward eight years and I was negotiating the sale of my interest to the general partner. I pulled some public records and discovered he had doubled escrowed the property to start the partnership, without disclosing it was how he put his equity into the deal. Further in eight years, he refinanced the first trust deed twice, each time taking a commission on the deal. In the partnership agreement, it stated that as a registered real estate broker we could expect certain services and a high level of professional conduct due to the general partner being a real estate broker. I had to ultimately use an attorney to finalize exit negotiations with that crook.
My wife was now my only real estate partner.
A financial advisor once gave me some sage advice which too late to save me from several bad experiences.
At the beginning of a partnership, the limited partners have the money and the general partner has the experience. Afterward, the general partner has the money and the limited partners have the experience.”
“Well, we were selling our cute little two-story brick Circa 1870 house in Leavenworth, Kansas. The first agent we had never gave us one of those things with the flyers that you put in so people could see photos, the price, or whatever. When we asked, she said people stole them. It was not a bad neighborhood. The one open house that came with our listing fee, she put the wrong day in the advertisement and then ate all of the cookies that I made for the visitors. No one showed up, because it was advertised incorrectly, and of course, we had no signs because she said it would only get stolen. We fired her, but the next agent was just as dumb and rude. And she made sure to repeatedly remind us if we showed the house to anyone without her there, she would still get the commission if it sold. After that contract ran out, we listed it as FSBO. My husband made a homemade flyer holder and sign, and it sold within three weeks for our asking price.”
“I had talked people out of buying a particular home more than once. Last year, a single mother, a professional who could afford a quality home, insisted on putting in an offer on a house where three people had been murdered in an unsolved crime. It was not disclosed by the listing agent but I had lived nearby when the murders had happened and knew the story as did all of the local area neighbors.
I explained to her that despite her not caring much, the house had been on the market for a year which meant people learned of its history and did not put in offers.
As in many real estate deals, one could buy but couldn’t sell. I explained she was young and this would not be her last home when it came time to sell. But the stigma would still be present and she would have a hard time.
She listened to me but not without reluctance.
The same thing happened when I cautioned first-time buyers to move on because they watched too many shows on television about renovation which are absurd. Those shows gave the impression that renovations were quick, painless, and not overly expensive. We, in real estate, laughed at the construction quotes they showed on the screen. Too many buyers wanted a house and would understate the work involved and costs. I got estimates to show them to find a better home because they just do not have the skills to undertake the work themselves, nor the budget to get others to do it.
Falling in love with home was one thing but sometimes we have to throw a bucket of cold water to bring people back to reality. Earning a commission at the expense of naive purchasers was not the goal of a professional realtor.”
Price Is Right
“Well, I just sold my house and this was pretty outrageous.
I began to work at home and decided to sell my house and buy one in the country that was closer to my parents to help them out as they got older. I lived in a beautiful small-city neighborhood that was quiet and secluded but tucked behind the junction of three major routes into the big city. It was encircled by a massive pond and backed up to conservation land. You could walk to the local elementary school, public transportation, two different playgrounds (one waterfront), tennis and basketball courts, local shops, two churches, car dealerships, gas stations, miniature golf, driving range, fast food, ice skating rink, you name it. Within three miles, were multiple malls with every store you could imagine. The perfect location.
It was a large but older home, a nine-room Victorian with front and back porches and a two-car garage. It was extremely rare for the area. It had a full basement and a ten-foot ceiling walk-up attic for future expansion. The baths were completely redone and the kitchen had been updated with granite counters and very high-end appliances. All the windows had been replaced, as had the roofs.
I found a new house at a great price and bought it. I decided to move into the new house so I could get the old one painted and the floors sanded, as the realtor, I hired recommended. I had a market analysis done and was confident in the price.
So now this beautiful old home with its five feet tall windows, french doors, built-ins, coffered ceilings, crystal doorknobs, brick walkways, marble fireplaces, and restored antique light fixtures had all interior walls repainted in trendy colors and the floors were a work of art. Yes, the floors were not level and the ancient horsehair plaster walls weren’t entirely plumb and had been repaired. There was no master bath. The closets were small. But you couldn’t get new-home features in a 120-year-old home. And you didn’t get new homes anywhere in that area unless you convince the powers that be you could crush an old one and rebuild on the tiny lots they were built on. It was a city, people.
The market was hot and homes were selling at the open houses. My house was swarmed. But, it was now a global health crisis, and the house was vacant, which may have made some people think I really needed to sell it.
One guy came in and bellowed how it was a dump and all the walls should have been taken down and replastered. He offers 100,000 bucks below the asking price because he had to repair all the walls. It didn’t cost 100,000 bucks to do it. By law, a realtor must convey all offers to a seller, so he conveyed it.
I said, ‘Thanks but no thanks.’
Another couple came in and declared they didn’t like the kitchen. It would cost 40,000 bucks to renovate it, they said. Then offered 40,000 bucks below the asking price. Put in whatever kitchen you want, I was not paying for it. I declined their offer.
Another couple came in, trashed it, and said there was a house on the market only three miles away and they were asking 75,000 bucks less. They demanded I come down to the price of that house—the one they didn’t want. Or they would be making an offer on it. They probably didn’t want it because it was in a different and not as nice neighborhood, without any of the amenities I mentioned above. And it was a much smaller house on a smaller lot with no garage or attic. I declined their offer.
Another couple came in and hated the house. They said they saw a house on the other side of the city that was bigger and had a bigger lot. And it was on the market for the same price. But it had no garage, needed a new roof, and the area was full of break-ins and illegal substances. They hated the house so much they demanded I come down 100,000 bucks, in comparison to the house in the bad neighborhood. This was all so they could buy it. I declined.
The next day there was a slew of similar encounters. I told my realtor everything I said above, and he prepared a flyer with the comparative values of homes in my area and the other similar homes on the market. House buyers really ought to know that city neighborhoods vary wildly. You could go down one street and the neighborhood on the right was bad and the neighborhood on the left was as safe as a military base.
Well, it wouldn’t have been so bad if these same people didn’t keep making my realtor come out again and again. They would come, measure the rooms for their furniture, and then demand I come down because the house was old. They would come, pull out flashlights and crawl under things and over things. They admitted the house was well-built, then demand I come down. They would call him and demand to see it again. They would call him and yell at him over the phone and demand I come down. It was like a lake of piranha.
Yes, I understood the fluidity of real estate. Yes, I understood negotiations. Yes, I had low-balled houses myself. But when someone said no, move on. I had low-balled homes because I knew the prices were outrageous, and watched as months or even years later, the house sold at what I offered. But I didn’t harass anybody. And I never made offers as outrageous as the ones I was getting.
At exactly the three-week mark, another couple came in, saw all the amenities nearby, saw what houses in my immediate area were selling for, and made a nearly full-price offer. I didn’t even haggle. The inspection went without a hitch and the bank appraised it for the financing at 20,000 bucks more than the market analysis did. I was happy, they were happy. We all got what we wanted.
I especially liked knowing all those bargain-shoppers could stalk my house on any number of real estate sites and see how off they were.”
All A Scam
“My sellers insisted I terminate the listing agreement. They had received a full cash offer online, from Russians in Russia. Sight unseen. They had never been to America. I would no longer be needed. All the usual scams. I even found the real Igor who had posted online that his identification had been stolen and he was not buying houses in America. I showed the post to my sellers.
I told them, ‘It’s a scam! It’s fake!’
It didn’t matter. They wanted me gone. And yes, they were getting even more money than they were asking for.
My clients insisted I let them out of the listing. I did. The Russians proved to be fake. The sellers hired me back and then the Russians reappeared. Again, my sellers wanted me out. I walked away, for good.
You can guess how this turned out but in the end, the sellers complained about me to the agency broker/owner. The house eventually was listed by someone else and sold locally. I was determined to be the bad guy.”
Way Too High
“This happened back before the crash in 2006. A young couple was ‘pushed’ into a higher mortgage than they could afford by the loan officer. The loan officer told them their equity was going to go up so high they would be able to refinance before one whole year was over. They could barely afford the note as it was and were so nervous at the closing table. She kept telling them not to worry because the way prices were going up they wouldn’t have any problems refinancing. Well, long story short, the market crashed and they lost the house of their dreams in foreclosure. The lesson learned was don’t let anyone push you into something you couldn’t afford and weren’t ready to handle. I would never let that happen again with buyers.”