It was one of those phone calls you sometimes get when you are a Realtor. There is a problem and your advice is needed. Most times I'm happy to talk with folks. It's fulfilling to be able to point them in the right direction in order to help them solve their issue.
This particular phone call came from some people who had bought a For Sale by Owner home from a guy. There had been no official closing and they had basically purchased the house on a contract for deed arrangement. They've been making payments and the seller was taking care of the paperwork.
Now the house is having problems with settling. This happens sometimes here in Oklahoma in our clay soil. Walls will crack. The foundation will separate and doors won't close properly. The good news is that this problem can be fixed with piering. But it can be expensive. Anyway, the house is settling ("falling apart" as they put it) and they want to know if they actually own this house or not. On top of the settling issues, they have a job loss situation now and can no longer make the payments.
Can they walk away? Is it even their house at all? What to do? What to do? I checked with my title company and the lawyer and told them to get legal counsel immediately.
Now, what's interesting about this situation is that these people are people I know. A couple of years ago they were looking for a house. I worked with them briefly until they found a great deal that was a For Sale by Owner. The seller wouldn't work with a Realtor, so off they went to get their great deal.
That great deal is now falling apart and they're in a mess. The seller is being difficult in working through the problems with the house. His take on the whole deal is that it is their house now and their problem.
This isn't the first time I've had someone come back later after they went out on their own and got into a mess because they tried to save a few bucks, cut corners or beat the real estate system.
Folks, if you're going to buy or sell real estate you are going to be better off when you work with a professional full time Realtor. We know the landmines to look for in this crazy business. Further, we can provide a measure of protection and advice so that you don't find yourself in a quagmire. We are bound by ethics and rules that protect not only us, but you as well. Those bucks you pay us are well spent for the peace of mind you get in return.
Sound like fluffy talk? Let me give you a real world example of what I'm talking about.
I know all the inspectors in our area. When I work with buyers, I always make sure they get the list of inspectors who back up their work. Recently I heard about a buyer who discovered a settling issue with the house they were buying. They called the inspector who had done the inspection. He came back and checked out the house again and sure enough, it was settling. The inspector's company refunded the inspection money and made restitution to the buyer. The buyer was then able to get out of the contract because they had the services of a good Realtor, a good inspector and a good broker...all of whom worked together to help resolved this problem for the buyers.
If those buyers had bought the house as a FSBO, they'd be out there on their own when that problem popped up. Sure, they may have known to have an inspection done, but would they have known which inspector is reputable? Would they have known who to call when they saw that there was a problem? What if the inspector had told them it was their problem and that he couldn't help them? With a professional full time Realtor, you can know that you've got someone working for you and your interests.
Now, lest you think I'm just tooting my horn here because I am a Realtor, let me explain something. Before I was a Realtor I sold a couple of houses as For Sale by Owner. I was happy that everything went well and that I saved some bucks. But now that I'm in the business, I see and hear about the horror stories of FSBO sales all the time. When it goes good, it is awesome. But when it goes bad, it goes very bad quickly. And there's only two things that solve real estate problems. Money and time.
And usually it takes a lot of both.
As Yodda might say, "Hmmmm. Realtor good thing!"