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Deal killers: When home sales get sabotaged

By Mike Wheatley | May 22, 2018

If you’re struggling to sell a particular client’s home despite there being nothing wrong with the property on the face of it, it could well be that someone is sabotaging your efforts. A couple of recent cases have come to attention.

One recent case highlighted in the Wall Street Journal relates how a real estate agent had been attempting to sell a mansion in the Benedict Canyon are of Los Angeles for months without success. The property was listed at $10 million and caught the eye of numerous buyers who were shown around, many of whom gave positive feedback. However, no one would follow up with a concrete bid.

Later the agent discovered that the seller’s housekeeper had been providing potential buyers with a long list of made up problems about the home, including a neighbor’s barking dog, loud echoes from the canyon at night, and noisy parties in the neighborhood. Turns out the housekeeper was afraid to lose their job, and did so in order to prevent anyone buying the home and consequently firing them. Once the agent learned of this, they told the seller to make sure the housekeeper wasn’t around during showings. The home was quickly sold shortly thereafter.

In a second incident, the tenant of a listed apartment in Manhattan who did not want to move would leave dozens of rat traps around for buyers to see every time they visited the property, even though there were no rats. This shows that even just the possibility of a rat infestation can be a deal breaker so it's better to nip the problem in the bud and hire a rat control company at once.

There have been even more blatant attempts at preventing a sale than this. In one case, a teenager was so upset at the prospect of his parents selling the family home that he threw a massive house party the day before the buyers came for a final walkthrough. The boy and his friends trashed the house and even spraypainted graffiti all over the tennis court, almost scuppering the deal, the Journal reported.

“The parents had to pay to have the court repainted and resurfaced and repair the guest house,” Montemarano says. “Luckily, my buyers were pretty OK with it. They just told the seller to make it right.”

Sometimes deals have been killed unintentionally too. Leslie Turner, a real estate agent from Charleston, South Carolina, told the Journal how a building inspector once discussed the condition of one of his listings using alarming language that ended up scaring off the buyers. The inspector had been recruited to check on the condition of a home built in 1882 that was due to be sold for $1.5 million. However, his report made it sound as if the home had a “parade of imaginary horribles,” the agent said, and that caused the buyers to back out of the deal.

“You always want to protect your clients and have them have a really thorough home inspection, but it’s just the way this guy delivers the news—he doesn’t have a good bedside manner,” Turner told the Journal. “I’ve seen people miss out on perfectly good properties because of this deal killer.”

The Charleston home sold the next day to a different buyer who understood the quirks of historic homes and wasn’t spooked by the inspector’s report.

Mike Wheatley is the senior editor at Realty Biz News. Got a real estate related news article you wish to share, contact Mike at [email protected].
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