Part II ended with me finding out the sellers had re-listed the house to my utter surprise with their Attorney, who was also a Realtor.
My comment to my former client, when I called her up and heard the news was:
“Why, I don’t understand?”
“Missy, you didn’t sell our house and we wanted to let someone else try”.
Ms. Seller, “I brought you 4 offers on your house, two of which were accepted, one fell apart over the square footage, and one your lenders would not respond to the other offer after waiting 3 weeks”. “I did everything I knew to get the house to closing.”
Ms Seller, “It’s not personal”. “We want to give our attorney a try”.
“Well, I wish you the best of success in selling your home” and I meant it.
As painful as it was for me, I knew it was worse for them. Was I upset? Yes, of course, I'm human.
Did the attorney interfere with the agency relationship by listing the house? I have no clue as I had withdrawn the listing as the sellers had instructed me to, 3 weeks before and I obviously was not privy to the conversations. I was not under any agency relationship at the time. I do know the seller told me the attorney was supposed to have called and told me, and he did not. She was surprised about that.
Conclusion on the house: The house did not sell in the next 5 months, that the Attorney/Realtor had it listed. Maybe they received offers; I have no way of knowing.
The Lawsuit: I and my broker spent $1,500.00 for the first line of defense to defend the lawsuit. The rest was covered by my E&O Insurance. Both the buyer agent and I were dropped from the lawsuit. This is the only time I have been sued in 13 years, and yes it was stressful.
Thank goodness, I had an appraisal to back up the square footage, and you could see on the listing where I had crossed out, the assessor’s square footage and written in what my sellers told me the appraisal. And we had the appraisal to back it up. No intent to defraud the buyers.
The house was eventually SOLD after the foreclosure redemption period,(6months in Michigan) for $50,000.00 LESS than the offers I had received and one year later.
The sellers finally won the law-suite and got to keep the $10,000 EMD. They told me at the grocery store two years later.
The sellers continued to rent for a couple of years and eventually did purchase a home.
The buyers had “buyer’s remorse”. They just did not want the house. They never moved to Ann Arbor but continued to live with the parents in another town. The parents never wanted them to move in the first place. They lost their $10,000.00 EMD and no telling how much in pursuing the lawsuit. They changed attorneys twice.
The Square Footage: The appraiser who did the 500 S.F. higher had counted the air above the great room in the re-finance appraisal.
Lessons Learned: I learned to always LOOK at the appraisal at the time the sellers disagree with the Tax Assessors record on file before changing it in the listing contract. I learned the bank didn’t really care and could have sold it a year earlier for more money. I learned that even when we give our heart and soul to a listing and clients we still might not get paid. I learned that there is no required method to measuring square footage and all four measurements were different.
And this post was written as a result of Andrew Lenza’s post on Playing with House Money inside the Titanic’s Casino! Receiving an Offer, to quote Andrew:
“You still may not get paid. But you're walking out of the suede room with your reputation intact, a feat not-so-com-pleat but still a rather valiant maybe. And if you survive the blunt force of the iceberg with your reputation, you can always make money once back on terra firma. You produced a result. Now where is the aft deck smorgasbord? I'm absolutely famished.”
“WHOA! WHAT WAS THAT?!? Felt like we just hit something really, really hard.”
I’ve learned not to get giddy when the offer(s) come in. This is where the real work begins. Yes, Andrew, there are ice-bergs out there to stay clear of. I am thankful the Buyer Agent, (who actually was from a different area), was on the same page as I was throughout the ordeal. That made it easier for the all the negotiations. What could have been advesarial was not and we have remained friends. The buyer stopped speaking to him when he told them they would lose their EMD. He told them to walk-away, they were going to lose the EMD and more money in legal fees. They did.
What started with a square foot issue, (on a loan already funded), ended with a lawsuit, a foreclosure, the time spent, the E&O (right of first defense) $1,500.00 lost and the disruption of many lives.
The learning experience priceless.
***Names, towns, square footage amount, have been changed to protect the parties involved*** but a true event.