Thursday, January 21, 2010

Selling/Buying a House: Update

IT IS OVER! No, I haven't sold my home. It is now off the market, THANK GODDESS! Darlings, you would not believe - well, maybe you will, if you have been following along the saga since its inception last November. A bit of a recap: I had put my foot down during the holidays when I was expecting guests. NO VIEWINGS. At one point, I had gotten so p'o.'d at these obnoxious brokers that I declared no viewings until AFTER Superbowl. Turns out Superbowl is some time in early February, but as the Packers are not playing, it is of no interest to me. So I said, no viewings until after January 22nd, when my guests will be gone. Anyway, the brokers do not know how to read, because I was being constantly badgered for viewings all during and after the holidays, which I said no to most of them. But I did allow a few, when the schedule of my guests and I permitted viewing that throwing us out of my own house! Was I thanked for this effort and accomodation? NOT ON YOUR LIFE. I was badgered for more showings. The culmination came last week Thursday when I absented myself from my own home for an hour (my guest was in Chicago and returning home later that evening), only to arrive home lugging two canvas bags filled with groceries to see that the people were still in my house 40 minutes after their 7 p.m. appointment. Now I ask you, what the hell were they still doing in my house when I arrived close enough down the street 40 minutes later to see cars still in my driveway? My two brokers were well aware of the fact that I do not drive, do not own a car, and walk or bus it for my transportion and to have to "disappear" from my own house for 20 minutes or so is a pain in the butt, to say the least, particularly in the winter. Particularly at night, particularly when the roads and sidewalks are icy and the windchill is below zero. You get the picture. Where the flying F*** am I supposed to "disappear" to while the "viewing" is going on? There is not a convenient Starbucks parked across the street, or even a mile away! After complaining about this aggregious breach of broker/buyer etiquette (not to mention just plain common courtesy of putting someone out of their own home on a weeknight for more than 40 minutes), I heard exactly -- NOTHING -- from either of my brokers. SIX DAYS GO BY AND NOT A WORD FROM EITHER OF MY BROKERS. Fast forward to yesterday. I receive an email from one of my brokers saying something like hooray, we have received another offer! The offer was attached. While I cannot be certain, I suspected it was from the aggregious encroachers. The offer was for $19,000 less than my listing price. Our local market is not THAT depressed. It was an insult, pure and simple. In a remarkable exercise of restraint, I waited until I was calmed down and then emailed one of my brokers and told her that I was not interested in accepting any offer for less than full list price. I INSTRUCTED HER TO PREPARE AND SEND ME A COUNTEROFFER SETTING FORTH FULL PURCHASE PRICE, I WOULD SIGN IT AND FAX OR EMAIL IT BACK TO HER EITHER BEFORE 5 P.M. YESTERDAY OR SHORTLY AFTER 8:30 A.M. TODAY. I HEARD NOTHING FROM EITHER OF MY BROKERS FOR NEARLY 24 HOURS. These brokers totally disregarded their fiduciary duty and dismissed AND DID NOT EXECUTE my clearly written and emailed instructions to tender a counteroffer back for the full purchase price, which should have been done before 5 p.m. yesterday. Around 7:30 p.m. last evening I received yet another emailed request from one of my brokers for a viewing of the house today between 5 and 5:15 p.m. I wrote back, as I had so often during more than the last month, that no, my guest was not leaving until January 22nd, and then it would take me a day or two to get the house in order, and showings could be scheduled after that. I was quite prepared to terminate the contract for cause and haul them before the Licensing Board on a complaint. It would have been a pleasure to do so, believe me. Instead, finally - sometime between 2:30 and 3 p.m. this afternoon, I receive a call - AT MY OFFICE - from BOTH of my brokers. The old double-team gambit. I will spare you the boring details and their self-serving bullshit. It was clear from the start that they were determined either to browbeat me into allowing them to "negotiate" with the buyers who tendered that ridiculous offer OR they were determined to cut me lose (I suspect that they had consulted their legal department on how to deal with me, such a problem client, and cut me lose without terminating their precious Listing Contract). Now, it was my original intention to negotiate an acceptable purchase price in the face of the ridiculous offer - acceptable to me. My instructions to my brokers to tender a counteroffer for the full purchase price had reasoning behind it. Only consider, If I had instead tendered a counteroffer for anything less than full purchase price, I am automatically cutting off some of my legs and negotiating strength. Now why in the hell would a rational person ever do something like that? My reasoning was that if these buyers really wanted the property, they would counter the counter - negotiations would commence. But if they were just trying to jack me around and were not really interested in buying my house, they would say to hell with you lady and walk. Lots of time saved and the bullshit and stress kept to a minimum. But my brokers weren't interested in hearing any explanation of MY negotiatging tactics from me. Not that I was obliged to explain anything to them, in any event! NOOOOOOOOO, THEY WANTED TO NEGOTIATE but - not follow my wishes. But who is employing whom here? Whose wishes are supposed to be supreme - the employer's? Or the employees'? Why was it incumbent upon ME to say oh yeah, all right, I'm just going to roll over and say do it to me whatever way you want, buyers. And I'll smile and thank you for it too. Yeah, they wanted me to negotiate all right. They wanted me to negotiate ON THE BUYERS' TERMS INSTEAD OF MY OWN. But I'm paying THEM to work for ME. Well, I wasn't about to play that game, not after the fiasco of the LAST offer they conned me into accepting. Guess what, brokers, you out-smarted yourself out of a nice juicy commission because it was quite obvious from day one that there was a lot of interest in my house - the brokers were so kind as to send me statistics of viewings of my property at their website to prove what a great marketing job they were doing, just putting my property out onh the internet (gee whiz!). If they had just given me peace and quiet as I'd requested, until January 22nd. Instead, I was accused of - gasp - not marketing my property aggressively enough! Thankfully, I am now free of those numbskulls! Thank you GODDESS! No more requests for showings on less than 24 hours notice! No more attempting to maintain an impossibly spotless house 24/7. No more non-responses to my emails. There were PLENTY of non-responses to MY requests to view properties and to MY requests to not badger me for showings until after January 22nd. I was so fricking stupid, too. I actually trusted their market analysis in pricing this house because they work for a big-name local broker and I figured they knew what they were doing, and I trusted that after I explained to them the limitations on viewing during the holiday season and the limitations on viewing in general (because I do not have a car that I can just "jump into" and drive to the mall for an hour at the drop of a hat), that they would actually HONOR my instructions. I trusted them to carry out my instructions and have my best interests at heart. I should have known better, but I didn't. Incredible that at 58 I am still so naive. If I were a bitch - I'm still thinking about that - I would not hesitate to write up these two brokers to the state agency that oversees such activities. I am also considering writing a complaint about the listing broker on the house I did write an offer on, which was terminated on December 23, 2009 (which I did not receive written confirmation of from my brokers until a week or so later. Gee thanks, ladies). I have yet to receive a refund of my earnest money deposit, despite two requests for same. Of course, I tendered those requests through one of my brokers - and I have only her "word" that she passed the requests along to the listing broker. Like now I really trust her, yeah. The language in the Offer says that the earnest money is to be returned within "a reasonable time." Tick tick tick. That brokerage gets to keep my earnest money for going on 30 days, and what I received today (via one of my brokers) is a vague comment that I will get a check "sometime next week." I am going to sleep on this for 24 hours and see if I have a better-nature - or not. In the meantime, my key is OUT of the lockbox and that obnoxious sign of theirs in my front yard will be removed in a week. My house is being delisted from the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) pronto, because - of course - they have to pay for THAT! But they also have to pay to have someone remove the sign, so they are not so fast to do THAT. The original owners of Wauwatosa Realty must be rolling in their graves at how much their formerly great customer-oriented service company has degenerated. I was around when the original "merger" took place - I remember what it was like before then. It is very sad. These brokers weren't working for me. They didn't give a rat's tushy about me, their client. They were only interested in scoring a quick and fat 6% commission while doing as little work as possible and prodding me to do as much as possible to make their job easier! They are dishonorable people.


Unknown said...

My house and 12 acres in PA has been on the market for 18 months. Several months ago I refused to extend the contract. Since I now live in Oregon (vs PA) it is very difficult - financially and practically. But my experience is similar. For many years real estate folks didn't have to be professional. That will change. If you decide to sell again, the RE agents left standing will need to be good in order to service. Good luck to you in the future.

Jan said...

Dave, I sincerely hope you are able to sell your PA property for a decent price and in good time. The market right now is just crazy. The lenders are driving true property values into the ground by their FORECLOSE FORECLOSE FORECLOSE baloney and they end up screwing themselves, their shareholders, and all real estate owners. I wish the states would do what Wisconsin had the balls to do back in the 1930's - declare a moratorium on all foreclosures. I do not understand why this has not been done; but I suppose too many politicians are too beholden to big business for financial support to be able to do what is best for America. It is clear that programs put in place aren't working to assist people in holding on to their homes. What would work would be changing bankruptcy law to allow HOME OWNERS to wipe out mortgage contracts just like BIG BUSINESS has the ability to do. I won't hold my breath though. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a political statesman anymore. Principle no longer exists as a motivating factor for our politicians.

As for me, I am counting the hours until filing a complaint against the listing broker on the property I put in an offer, which was subsequently released by both parties on December 23, 2009. I still have not received my earnest money refund of $500. My broker wanted me to put down $1500! At the time I wanted to tell her to get bent, but I restricted myself to saying "are you nuts?"

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