THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Jill Sackler, Long Island's South Shore Agent Laments a Transaction Gone Bad

Real Estate Agent with Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 NRDS ID#641625055

THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY - Jill Sackler, Long Island's South Shore Agent Laments a Transaction Gone Bad


jacuzzi 12/4/11A couple of months ago, my daughter and brand new son-in-law thought they had found the perfect house and, with my help, entered into negotiations with the homeowners (and their agent.) Several weeks later, after some intense back and forth, the deal fell apart and it was all over a Jacuzzi.

In the end, it all worked out just fine as the newly married couple found another starter home, perfectly suited to them, and closing took place a couple of days ago.

But this is the story of the first house in question - the one that got away!

The owners had renovated the space beautifully and, as such, decided they wanted top dollar for it. The kids made an excellent first offer and the homeowners countered within $4,000 of asking.

They were $20,000 apart. 

The kids increased their offer by $10,000 and the homeowners countered by reducing the price another $5,000.

We were now $5,000 apart.

At this point, I started counseling the excited young couple that they couldn't afford to go much higher. They would never get their money back. The house was really at the very high end of the market comparables -  but you already know how this story goes -  they were so excited to have found something they loved and because they could already envision themselves living there, we decided to go up another $5,000.

We were now in agreement on the price.

So, what happened? Why didn't we end up in contract?

The homeowners decided they wanted to take their Jacuzzi with them and, in the end, made this the deal breaker.

This, of course, made no financial sense as this is an incredibly heavy piece to move. Not only that, but the owners would be forced to fix the hole that was left when the Jacuzzi was removed from the Trexdeck. Furthermore, a foundation would have to be poured and electrical hookups be placed in whatever new space they were moving it to.

None of this made any sense to us or even to their agent and, after a tense and prolonged period of negotiations, the entire thing fell apart for good.

A difficult part of the negotiation process is that all interested parties are not speaking face to face but instead, relying on the seller's agent to convey the buyers' sincerest thoughts to the homeowners. The agent can say, as he did, that he spoke to the homeowners and explained everything thoroughly to them. But did he do a good job?

At the end, we had no choice but to accept what we were told was the homeowner's final answer. Although it all worked out well in the end, I can't help but feel that the other agent dropped the ball on this transaction. He seemed to admit defeat all too rapidly, and even turned this unfortunate situation around to the point where he said to me over the phone, "What's the matter with your crazy clients?" after which he hung up on me.

We decided not to pursue it as we felt, right from the beginning, that the house was overpriced.

Clearly, in retrospect, the homeowners lacked motivation. While this didn't seem apparent at the time because they were simultaneously negotiating on a home they wanted to purchase, they were probably rethinking their decision to move, and maybe realizing that they didn't love anything as much as they home they currently lived in. The truth is, if you love your home more than anybody else in the whole world, it's only fair that you should get to keep it.


Picture courtesy of khyronsdf's photostream via's Creative Commons License.

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CHARLES RUTENBERG REALTY INC.  *****  516-575-7500  *****



Jill Sackler, NYS Real Estate Broker Associate based on Long Island's South Shore

Sunny Isles, Fl 

       Specializing in Lifecycle Real Estate 

"When your family doesn't fit your family home, I can help."


©Jill Sackler 2010


Comments (27)

Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Thank you, Richie. I'm sure they were very well aware that this was a petty dispute but they were aiming for a certain outcome, which they got.

Thanks, Sheila. It's upsetting while you're going through it but you know the right place will come along for you too.

Larry, you really go the extra mile to make sure the deal goes through. I like that.

Rob, thanks, I appreciate it. Actually, the Sellers have withdrawn the property. I'm sure at some point, they made the mental decision to stay right where they are but didn't know how to break this to their agent so they became obstinate.

Cindy, I think you are correct.

Ellie, Thank you. The agent's behavior struck me as odd but I bet he gave up because, in his heart, he knew he wasn't going to win. The clients were being very difficult.

Ron, Thank you. I always try to look at a situation from all sides. It's a byproduct of the middle child syndrome.

Dec 04, 2011 11:01 AM
Ellen Caruso
Daniel Gale Sotheby's International Realty - Glen Head, NY

Jill, who would think they would take that, it's like I want to take my bathtub too! We sold our last home which had several unique things in it, like hand painted ceramic sinks brought back from Italy, but we didn't dare pull them out of the wall. We went back and bought new ones for our next new home!

Dec 04, 2011 03:18 PM
Bill Gillhespy
16 Sunview Blvd - Fort Myers Beach, FL
Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos

Morning Jill,  Why wasn't the issue of the tub addressed early on as a " fixture "  or having been disclosed as  "not conveying " ?

Dec 05, 2011 12:31 AM
Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400
The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803 - Plainview, NY
Long Island Condo and Home Specialists

We've been through these types of scenarios Jill. The work and cost that would have been involved in removing this hot tub was senseless and you and your family made the right decision to walk away!

Dec 05, 2011 12:38 AM
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

I'm sure glad your daughter and son-in-law quickly found another house and could put this one behind.

It's frustrating not being able to speak directly with the sellers. I've found two strategies to be helpful at times; 1) the buyers or I write a personal letter to the sellers which I present along with the offer; 2) if things become difficult during the contingency period, I've once or twice written a letter explaining my buyers' position, and asked the listing agent to share it with the sellers.

Nice making your acquaintance here, Jill.

Dec 05, 2011 02:03 AM
Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


Interesting story, it would have very simple to meet with sellers, agents and buyers and sort this out.  In the end, it all worked out for you and your family, and that is what matters.  I have been in situations where someone wanted the last nickel, and things fall apart.  In the long run, it often turns out to fortuitous.  A

Dec 05, 2011 05:20 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Ellen - With hand painted ceramic sinks brought back from Italy, who could have blamed you if you wanted to pull them out?

Hi Bill - The Jacuzzi did not appear as an exclusion on the MLS. At some point in the discussions, the matter did come up. The agent said the homeowners might be taking the tub with them but they just weren't sure. It really depended on the price that was agreed to for the house. Because of everything involved in moving the tub, no one, including the agent, really believed this was going to be an issue at the end, especially since the owners were to receive the price they wanted. At the end, it wasn't the Jacuzzi that mattered to the buyers. It was all the nickel and dime-ing that was going on. The overriding atmosphere was one of "what are they going to want from me next? What kind of experience will we have at the closing table"? Don't forget that our initial reaction to the property was that it was great but slightly overpriced. That's why cooler heads prevailed and we walked away.

Dec 05, 2011 05:34 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Thanks, Lottie. Those are excellent suggestions and ones I've considered in the past.

Hi Alexandra - I like the way you sign off with your initial so I know who to address.

In the same way that the sellers had probably decided not to sell (before they actually said it out loud), we had instinctively decided not to buy (as the scenario became more complicated).

In other words, we were not prepared to go the distance. We gave up before we could pursue a successful resolution amidst concerns of perceived inflexibility with regard to the normal give and take of a real estate transaction.

Dec 05, 2011 05:48 AM
Rebecca Gaujot, Realtor®
Lewisburg, WV
Lewisburg WV, the go to agent for all real estate

Hi Jill, great post and you explained very well.  I am sure the buyers are kicking themselves about now...Congrats on the feature.

Dec 05, 2011 09:31 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Thanks, Rebecca, but no feature here. Close but no cigar (lol)!

Dec 06, 2011 02:52 AM
Maria Gilda Racelis
Home Buyers Realty, LLC-Manchester, Bolton. Vernon,Ellington - Manchester, CT
Home Ownership is w/in Reach. We Make it Happen!

Hi Jill: The only consolation you can give your family is that it is not meant to be. It almost feel like gnawing at your own nails when a deal falls apart because of unreasonable reason:).


Dec 06, 2011 11:45 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Maria - Yes, I definitely believe that.

Dec 07, 2011 12:34 AM
EC, JF, Double R and Zoey the Cool Cat
Russel Ray Photos - San Diego, CA

The only thing I can say is that that hot tub must really have had some interesting memories associates with it, and I'm just going to leave it there....

Dec 07, 2011 01:11 PM
Norma Toering Broker for Palos Verdes and Beach Cities
Charlemagne International Properties - Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
Palos Verdes Luxury Homes in L.A.

Jill - I'm closing a similar sale next week.  We lost the first house they loved in multiple bids, but I did not want them to overpay, and advised them not to let their emotions overrule their budget.  And although it took months, they found a better house at a better price.  These situations have a way of working out for the best.  I hope your kids will be very happy in their first home.

Dec 08, 2011 04:02 AM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Eric - You may be onto something.

Thanks, Norma. - It does always seem to work out for the best.

Dec 08, 2011 05:11 AM
Karen Crowson
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Rancho Bernardo, CA
Your Agent for Change

As soon as we make personal possessions part of the contract, it gets sticky. I always prefer to have those handled outside of escrow. But this falls under one of those 'it wasn't meant to be' things for your buyers. Sounds like they found something they liked even more. Thanks for entering your experience in The One That Got Away Contest.

Dec 08, 2011 01:16 PM
Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

It is crazy that it can all come down to an above ground hot tub... really?  But sales have been lost over less  I am sure.  Everyone always talks about the chandelier issue...  Thanks for sharing your story!  Kathy

Dec 11, 2011 04:31 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Karen - Thanks for reading and commenting. This is only the 2nd contest I've entered since I've been on AR. Usually, I let them pass by without joining, but I thought this one had a great topic - both educational from reading the stories of others and cathartic from telling you my own.

Kathy - Yes, really. But that's okay. There are always Sellers out there who are motivated to work with you. All's well that ends well.

Dec 12, 2011 08:55 AM
Not a real person
San Diego, CA

You just never know. Many years ago I inspected a 2-year-old home that didn't really have any problems except that there wasn't a single screen window or screen door. They had all been removed because they interfered with the view. Buy walked, even after seller's agent and buyer's agent offered to buy new screens for a $780,000 house. That wasn't the issue, though. Six months earlier the sellers' 2-year-old son had died from falling out of a third floor window that had no screen on it. They blamed themselves for having removed the screens because they interfered with the view. So what the sellers said about the view and the screens just brought back too many bad memories that they had to take time out from and work their way through.

Dec 16, 2011 12:16 PM
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

Wow! That's some horrible story. I thought of Eric Clapton right away. I guess you're right. You just never know.

Dec 17, 2011 09:43 AM