Strange real estate tales from local agents

The price is wrong

Several years ago, I had a client who ran a child daycare business. Despite the fact that much of her income was cash and she did not have robust tax returns, she was able to secure a mortgage. However, just a week before the closing, the HOA of the building decided that she didn’t show sufficient income to live there, so they refused to waive their right of first refusal. The seller was an elderly lady who had already moved to a nursing home. Her son was her attorney. “No problem,” he said as he scheduled the closing. “Let the HOA come to the closing with the purchase price in full, and they can buy the unit.” Of course the HOA was unable to purchase the unit, and my buyer went to the closing and successfully closed on her condo. It was the first time I truly understood that those right of first refusals are pretty much worth the paper they are printed on. I know that after the crash, there have some HOAs in the city that have bought up drastically reduced units in their buildings to protect the values of the existing owners. But I have never heard of any HOAs matching a regular market price in order to prevent a buyer from purchasing in their building.

A labor intensive sale

About 25 years ago I was showing a condo at the vintage building at Fullerton and Lincoln Park West. The door was to be left unlocked, which it was. But, as usual, I knocked anyway. My client and I heard a faint “Come in, the dog is friendly.” As I opened the door, a HUGE dog came charging over, jumped up, put his paws on my client’s chest and panted in her face. Now I’m not comfortable around dogs, so was paralyzed. My client, however, took control and said in a very stern voice, “DOWN!”…and the dog got down. Then she said “SIT!”…and the dog sat. Then she said “STAY!”…and the dog stayed. I thought I was through everything this showing had in store, but I was wrong. When we worked our way back and entered the master bedroom, we encountered a very pregnant woman lying flat on her back in bed with a telephone next to her. She said “Come on in….I’m in labor. Go ahead and look around. Don’t worry, I’ve called my husband and the doctor, and the ambulance is on the way. Just let yourselves out when you’re finished.” So we finished looking, went past the dog, who was still sitting at the front door, and we left. My client bought something else.

A bug’s life

Several years ago, well before the mortgage crisis, I was helping an investor buy, fix and flip properties. I had only been out showing him homes once or twice before, so I would typically dress a bit more formally in the beginning of a relationship by wearing a long-sleeved, buttoned dress shirt, tie and dress slacks. I don’t do this anymore and you will understand why shortly.

We were looking at homes in a pretty run-down area, and the home we were visiting was a vacant foreclosure that made the remaining homes on the block look like palaces. We had seen about a half a dozen better homes earlier that morning, but my client was fixated on this particular home. When we arrived, I attempted to open the lockbox, but it was jammed. The previous agent who showed the home had crammed the keys (about 10 of them) into the undersized lockbox and made it nearly impossible to get it open.

Since I always carry tools with me, I went to my car to get some tools to help me get the lockbox open. I proceeded to work on the lockbox for a short period before successfully getting it open. That was my second mistake. And no, I did not damage the lockbox in any way. I unlocked the door and tried to get it open, but it was stuck, due to the structural issues that I had already pointed out to my client.

Throwing caution to the wind, I leaned my shoulder into the door and pushed it open. The overhead trim that the door was stuck on had pulled away, unleashing about a thousand earwigs that completely showered me. They went down my shirt and my pants and in my shoes. They went everywhere but my ears. Immediately, I had to do my infamous Gypsy Rose Lee impersonation while my client laughed hysterically at the spectacle.

Needless to say, the entire event was extremely embarrassing and after regaining my composure, along with my clothing, we continued to view homes that day. For those of you who are interested, my client did end up buying a different home.

All in a day’s work

The question isn’t, “Did I have a wacky experience with a client?” the question is how many. Most these days. This year we had several clients refuse offers (that were good) only to take a lower amount later. We recently had an association who refused to let the buyer buy because they were buying under their LLC. We worked it out, but associations need some checks and balances!

Blinded with science

A couple years ago I sold a mad scientist’s home. It was high on a hill with a challenging driveway. The home was built like a bomb shelter. It had an observatory with huge professional grade telescope. The dome would open for stargazing. Under the basement was a sub-basement with laboratory. I always pictured Dr. Frankenstein opening the dome to capture a lightning bolt. What made the home more difficult to sell was each room had an individual radiant heat unit. There was no A/C and it had all concrete walls, and there was no way to add duct work to install HVAC.

Third time’s the charm

Helping sellers is both a rewarding and sometimes stressful process. Each sale is a wonderful accomplishment, but some do tend to test your calmness and make it difficult in easing your clients. I had a listing once that we went under contract with multiple offers, not once, not twice, but three times. The first two deals fell apart on the buyer’s side, and my sellers were in the process of building a home. Each time it feel apart, it put their purchase in jeopardy. Luckily, I was able to resell it each time quickly and for the same prices. The advantage to the seller was the final closing lined up with the new home purchase so it all worked out!