Joy Ride

  • Barbarella

You just can’t trust people. Beneath every bit of apparent altruism, of friendliness and good intentions, under the layers of pretense we spend a lifetime collecting and carefully positioning...we are, each of us, in every situation, simply trying to get what we want.

Let’s take these people who have, for the past several months, been in the process of buying my home on a short sale. Before David and I accepted their offer (which was the same exact amount that another person had offered the same day), we tried to get what we wanted: an agreement for flexibility on a moving date and a promise that the buyers might also take some of our furniture off of our hands — not only because we knew we wouldn't have room for it all in a smaller place, but also because we were looking for a little extra cash to help us with the move.

We could have gotten them into a bidding war. We could have said, “Someone else made an offer of the same amount, now it’s up to you guys to outbid each other.” But we didn’t. In good faith, we said, “Okay, you’ve been nice and accommodating, we’re just going to go ahead and accept your offer, and let us know which pieces of furniture you want later.” They were so positive about it all, with all their talk about "good karma" and “don't you worry, it’ll all work out, just you see.” They even offered us their house to stay at if we needed a place to crash between close of escrow and moving into wherever we ended up moving.

“No, thanks,” we said. “We appreciate that, but if we can just have some flexibility as we discussed — say, moving out just after close of escrow in case we’re traveling when all of this is resolved, that would be a huge load off.”

“Of course,” they said. “We are not on any kind of a timeline.”

But then, a few months later, we had found a new apartment, but the place wasn’t yet ready and wouldn’t be until the very middle of that trip we had planned (for David’s work...it's not like it was an arbitrary vacation). David contacted the couple by email. He wrote, “Hey, we still have no idea when this is closing. Could be July, could be August, but if it closes in July, can we have until the end of July to move out?”

He received a curt response: “I’m not sure that’s going to work with our plans.” In a subsequent email they added that they were no longer interested in buying any furniture or artwork.

David was disappointed, but I was seething with misanthropy. We immediately scrambled to sell or just give away much of the bulky stuff; we packed the rest and make arrangements for things to happen before and during the time we’d be out of town.

“Better just to have it done,” I said. “We might as well just get out and move on." But I couldn’t believe how they played us. We could have just sat back and let the two parties go up and up until one of them won the prize that was our home, but instead we tried to save these people money because we liked them and we were led to believe they had the luxury of time to move and were interested in taking some of our stuff off our hands.

“The weirdest thing to me was how nice they were at first and how cold they are now,” David said.

We scheduled everything to fit the timeline. The bank had approved, the paperwork had been done; it had taken months, but we finally had a close-of-escrow date. We signed a paper promising to be off the premises by July 27 (a few days after we were scheduled to return from our travels). Things were starting to look up.

Yesterday, we ran errands and worked on packing some necessities for the ten-day excursion for one of David’s gallery exhibitions and talks. We even had time to spare, so we made plans to grab a drink and a bite with my dad at Small Bar. I was even smiling. Ten minutes before we had to leave to meet my dad, David received an email from our real estate agent.

The buyers had changed their minds. They were no longer interested in buying our condo. “Are you fucking kidding me?” I said. David turned his laptop sideways so I could read the words for myself. “What does this mean? We didn’t have to hustle so hard? We have to start all over, listing the place and hoping for nibbles? We leave town tomorrow.”

David nodded. “We need to clean tonight, before we go. Make it presentable for anyone who shows while we’re gone,” he said. “All that work and expense to have it staged and keep it clean, and now people have to see it with crates and boxes. There are so many adverse consequences for us. We’re one step closer to foreclosure now. This isn’t high school. Do they just go around pretending to buy houses like it’s some kind of joy ride?”

“We should have gone with that other offer, from the nice girl. The only reason we chose them is because of the promises they’d made. They seemed so sure. Oh, man. I feel sick. My parents were right — you can’t trust anyone.”

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You said it in your opening statement, we are all trying to get our needs met. They backed out, and you have no leverage in a buyers market.

Mindy in my experience, I believe that car sales has the greatest number of alcoholics. In fact when I sold cars I was told by my manager that alcoholism was a prerequisite for success.

what jerks!!!!

may their karma come back and bite them in their pompous a$ses

Very true. I usually do that, and in this case, I misunderstood (I assumed the signed offer and all that paperwork with the bank WAS "in writing," but that's what I get for trusting others to handle my affairs). That's what I mean by you can't trust anyone. As great as someone's intention seems, unless it's in writing, and there are real ramifications, there's nothing to hold them to their word. See: Prenuptial Agreements. ;)

Yet another PITA that's good for your Readers, if nothing else! Relax, let it go and talking about going, Have a great NYC adventure with David... Picture That! + A going away present:

I'd write a Haiku

But I have too much to do

I hope you aren't blue

"we tried to save these people money because we liked them"

The reason you chose to sell to those people is that they offered you what you thought was the better deal: buying your stuff and allowing you a flexible move-out date. You were making a business deal, not making friends. Nothing wrong with that but don't act like you were being altruistic.

They were sleazy but the real culprit in this story is your real estate agent who didn't get a deposit and a signed offer to buy. That it also took months to get the deal done sounds like the agent wasn't very good. Any decent agent would have told you to avoid contact with the buyers and let her/him do it. A good agent would never have allowed those jerks the opportunity to wiggle out of the deal without compensation or consequences.

Very true. As I wrote in my first paragraph, "...we are, each of us, in every situation, simply trying to get what we want." That does not exclude me, it's a human condition. But it wasn't just the "business deal" part, they did represent that they wanted to be friends. They spoke of how much they liked us personally, and at one point, they offered for us to stay in their home -- that goes beyond "business." But, as we realized, it was just all talk. It's important to get stuff in writing, always. We were not being altruistic (I don't believe in altruism), we were choosing to keep them out of a bidding war in exchange for the flexibility/furniture buying, etc. They backed out, after making us rush and scramble to meet their desired date. That's what I found uncool.

On a side note, the other people who had made an offer that same day seem to still be interested, for which we are grateful. Regarding the agent, I have no comment.

They were sleazy but the real culprit in this story is your real estate agent who didn't get a deposit and a signed offer to buy.

================ If it was not in writing there was no offer and there was no contract.

All sales of real property must be written, oral contracts are not allowed in the sale of real property in this state.

You always demand a deposit that goes "hard" as soon as contingencies have been met. In this case the contingencies should have been approval of the short sale by the bank-assuming the buyers were already pre-qualifed for the loan.

If you have a deposit that went hard after the sale was approved, you could have kept it, and anything less than $5K is not enough of a deposit by a seriosu buyer. When I sold commercioal real estate I always wanted a $25K deposit from buyers-that seperated the buyers from the pretenders.

As a 20 year licensed RE broker I think your agent and broker should have explained this to you very clearly-if they didn't, and you're not the RE expert here, then you need to sit down and have a very serious talk with them about what went wrong here, they could be liable for damages if you were to file a lawsuit against them.

With all of the screwups ( did you actually read the contract before you signed?) it sounds like you are related to the Agent As Ronnie Raygun always said " Trust but Verify" How does it feel to be dumber than a Republican? Good luck in your new place Jim

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