Sunday, March 8, 2009

If Houses Could Scream!

"What happened here?" my buyer gasped.

I was in shock. What had happened since making an offer on the home?

It had been 6 weeks since he had made the offer on this home, that was being sold as a short sale. The sellers had to sell the home as the result of a divorce, and owed more on the home than it would be sold for. The home was older and needed some cleaning, a kitchen and bathroom update, but over all the 3 bedroom house had potential.

As we walked into the house, the seller passed us leaving for work muttering something about trouble with his child who had done some damage.

However, after examining the home, it was evident that the seller had done the dastardly deed. He had removed the dishwasher, the oven, the front bathroom newer bathtub doors. In addition, two bedroom doors, some kitchen cabinet doors were missing. As we walked down the hall I noticed the matching painted wood paneling on the walls was missing and now there was exposed damaged drywall with a layer of black tar down the middle. The original hardwood floors had a long scrapes and gouges where the oven had been drug through the living room to the backyard.

While we had a contract that the seller had violated, what is the point of suing someone who is in the process of losing everything. I could have renegotiated the price down for my Buyer, but where would the angry seller stop before the end of escrow. With the damage he did in 24 hours since the offer had been accepted, would the house still be standing in the next 45 days? Unfortunately, the Seller's actions, spoke loud and clear, "That if I couldn't have it, no one would.

Since we were expecting the home inspector, any minute, my buyer had to make a decision. While I hated to see him lose the house that he had hunted months for and waited patiently for the bank to approve the offer, but there was nothing else he could do. I knew he couldn't afford to rebuild the nice little home he had bought. Not to mention, would he be able to get lending on it. While we had a contract, you can't sue someone who has nothing to lose. Much to his despair, the Buyer was forced to cancel his contract.

While I have seen foreclosed homes damaged, toilets and sinks missing, entire kitchens barren, this was the first short sale where someone had sabotaged his chances of selling a home. While I knew this seller was in the middle of a divorce and angry, I tried to make sense of the destruction.

While some may see the destruction as an expression of anger towards the banks, a silent revolution, I feel we are seeing an epidemic of angry home owners, grieving over the loss of their homes--the center of their family's universe.

While buyers have an opportunity to pick up homes at a reduced price right now, there are a lot of homes out there that have been damaged by Angry Sellers or have deferred maintenance. A big problem with these homes for buyers, is lenders often won't lend on them. So right now, patience is the name of the Buyer Game and being the first to find the diamond.

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