"The Cop says he's Nuts". A tale of Disclosure.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Zion Realty

A few days ago in my weekly Sunday wrap-up blog post What I learned in Real Estate last week I wrote about a disturbing, rather alarming note left on the front door of a Condo in which I was holding an open house. I stopped holding open houses alone years ago for safety reasons. Thankfully no major incidents happened while myself and another one of my agents were there. As soon as I returned home I scanned and emailed the note to the owner of the Condo as they are a Canadian investor and do not live here in the U.S.

The note was threatening enough, however, that I needed to report the incident to the proper authorities. As soon as I could I placed a call to the local police department and read the note in it's entirety to the clerk who answered the non-emergency line. They passed on the information to the officer in charge of that area and advised me that I would be getting a call. As busy as the officer and I both are we played phone tag back and forth for an afternoon before finally connecting. 

To my dismay, the officer knew exactly who may be the culprit behind the alarming, conspiracy laden message left on my sellers door. "That guy is nuts" was the phrase the kind police man used to describe the gentleman who lives below the Condo I have listed. He further went on to explain in great detail the amount of complaints the previous tenants of the Condo I am selling had lobbied against them by the man who lived in the adjoining property. Fortunately it seems the mans accusations were limited to only these particular tenants and not attached in any way to the property itself. 

The complaints poured in almost weekly and ranged from accusations of housing illegal immigrants, to drug trafficking, and unlawful video surveillance of the neighborhood. Many other conspiracy theories too complicated to explain were also described to police by this deranged neighbor in regards to the apartment activity above him that he believed was most assuredly going on. It may have been happening alright, but only inside of his own mind.

On to the legalities of the matter. Now that myself and the owner of the Condo have been made fully aware of the situation I am in the position of being required by law to disclose unruly or potentially dangerous neighbor activity. My sellers received a full price offer for their Condo within 4 days of the listing hitting the open market! The bad news is that I now have to type up a disclosure letter explaining the situation with the occupant who will be residing underneath the potential buyers. I will do my best to massage and smooth over the information that was provided to me by law enforcement, all the while making sure I am being 100% open and accurate in regards to the knowledge I now have of the situation.

I can only hope the downstairs demented dweller doesn't ruin what should turn out to be a quick and easy close for the buyer and seller. I will do my best as a real estate professional to keep this transaction moving towards the closing table!



Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. John DL Arendsen 07/18/2015 12:06 AM
  2. Winston Heverly 10/12/2015 02:14 PM
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Karen Steed
Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton - Tallapoosa, GA
Associate Broker Haralson Realty

It really is important to meet the neighbors before moving into a property.   If you wait until after closing, you may need to move sooner than planned.

Jul 18, 2015 04:46 AM #101
Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert
Zion Realty - Gilbert, AZ
Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com

Just to update those who have recently stopped by, yes unfortunately the first buyer did back out of the deal because of the neighbor. In Arizona our disclosure laws state that we must disclose any "important information that you are aware of concerning the property that might affect the buyers decision making process". Being aware of an unruly neighbor certainly falls in to this category. I can't speak for other states but here in Arizona this is the law. Also, to answer the many other comments, yes I have contacted the HOA and the owner of the condo where the troubled neighbor lives and no I did not make any reference to the mental stability of the gentlemen in any correspondence either verbal or written. The policeman's comment simply lent itself to a fun blog post title. I understand neither myself nor law enforcement have any authority to officially label anyone as such. 

Jul 18, 2015 08:04 AM #102
Susan Neal
RE/MAX Gold, Fair Oaks - Fair Oaks, CA
Fair Oaks CA & Sacramento Area Real Estate Broker

You did the right thing by disclosing, and I'm sorry you lost the buyer, but I'd be interested to know if the guy's landlord or the hoa or the police can do anything about him. Your sellers might be able to sue if he makes selling impossible, but that may be very unpleasant. I wish you the best, and please take care that your efforts don't put you in his crosshairs.

Jul 18, 2015 04:22 PM #103
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

If it were me....I would truthfully describe what happened. If the seller has been in the home, and this is the first time they've experienced this neighbor being odd, then I would say that also. While I'd also include that the police officer was aware of the occupant and that there had ben complaints in the past, I would be careful not to use the word "crazy." 

And all this needs to come from the seller...not you. If this home sells for way less than the seller was hoping, they could potentially blame YOU for your opinions in the disclosure. There are many things to consider. 

Jul 19, 2015 01:28 AM #104
Rosemarie Heindel
Harry Norman Realtors - Big Canoe, GA
Rosemarie Heindel

I found myself in a similiar situation, but maybe not as bad.  A woman I sold a condo to quickly realized she had a BAD neighbor who lived below her.  The neighbor (also a woman) would stroll into my clients house anytime she felt like it.  This caused my client a great amount of stress.  She approached her many times about this and contemplated calling the police, but my client  was elderly and didn't want to cause trouble.  The only solution she had (she felt) was to sell the condo she had only lived in for less than a year. 

Jul 19, 2015 02:20 AM #105
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Nicole,

Fortunately, I have never had to personally or in my business deal with anyone like that, but they have reports about folks like this on Dateline or other such programs from time to time. Scary!

Jul 19, 2015 03:37 AM #106
Debra Peters
Referral Realty - Manorville, NY
NY Real Estate Salesperson

The first comment that comes to my mind after reading your post is, "WOW".

You learn something new in this business every single day. There are so many laws, rules and guidelines to follow, not to mention they vary from state to state.

It's great to read posts from others that share their experiences, and I thank you for that.

Despite the fact that laws differ from state to state, such posts like these, do make you aware of certain situations that you may come across and will hopefully help protect you, should you ever be faced with a situation like this.

Jul 19, 2015 06:40 AM #107
Diana Dahlberg
1 Month Realty - Pleasant Prairie, WI
Real Estate in Kenosha, WI since 1994 262-308-3563

Wow!  I have had a few "complicated or challenging" neighbors in the past but not that the police had to get involved with.  Please keep us posted of the details of this transaction.  Hope you make it to a successful closing.

Jul 19, 2015 07:05 AM #108
Kathleen Frawley
Keller Williams 916 730-4404 Elk Grove, Wilton, Folsom, Sacramento - Wilton, CA
South County Sacramento, 916 730 4404

Just ask the crazy neighbor if he wants to sell.....Tell him the CIA sent you.

Jul 19, 2015 07:06 AM #109
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

I am not sure exactly what is required in my state.  I need to find out.  I agree that you should have the seller craft the disclosure so that he will not be able to blame you if a sale falls through due to it.  Good luck with this one.

Jul 19, 2015 10:36 PM #110
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

WOW, I'm way late in chiming in on this post Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert but I'm glad I read it. All to often the police can not act until someone is hurt, it sucks! I would be scared to death to live there thinking the wack-0 may start blasting his shotgun through his ceiling into mine.

Jul 20, 2015 12:29 AM #111
Bill Morrow
Keller Williams of Central PA - Mechanicsburg, PA
Bill Morrow, Associate Broker

Interesting dilemma.  I think that you may be better served to visit the neighbor, introduce yourself and explain that you "understand" their concerns and as a real estate professional it is your job to find a suitable buyer for the Condo.  At that juncture ask them if they know of anyone that would be a good neighbor for them and ask them to have that person(s) stop by your open house or to call you. 

You just accomplished two things. First you probably got them to lower their guard and look at you as a friend rather than an adversary and secondly you are inviting them to "choose" their new neighbor. You may have just created a win win scenario.

On a side note, has anyone given any thought to the fact that the owner's tenants of the condo that you are selling may have been the problem and the guy downstairs is reacting in the only way he knows how to?


Jul 20, 2015 02:12 AM #112
Michael Rasch
Florida Home Sales and Investments - Hallandale Beach, FL
Michael Rasch 305-741-1819

Well well well, what we have here is an oddball causing problems. coulb be simply solved with a conversation ( have an escort with you ) or if you have the nature to be a trouble maker, flash a lazer pointer that's red at his windows ( do it from real real far way ) ... I am laughing since I can only guess what a real nightmare this must seem

Jul 20, 2015 03:50 AM #113
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

By all means disclose.  Now if they do walk and it cost your client money I think he now has a documented civil suit to drive this guy out. 

Jul 20, 2015 06:49 AM #114
Janice Zaltman Realtor, LEED AP
United Realty Group - Boca Raton, FL

Ouch. Sorry to hear about what happened. Have had to deal with difficult tenants when selling a home but not with problem neighbors.

Jul 20, 2015 11:50 AM #115
RealSupport, Inc.
RealSupport Inc. - Schaumburg, IL
- Virtual Real Estate Marketing

A tough situation - but you handled it with integrity!

Jul 20, 2015 04:13 PM #116
Amy Steele Realtor SRS CNE NHS MRP
JP and Associates - North Richland Hills, TX
Live,Work,Play...in North Texas

Yes I think buyers should consider the neighbors as well as a neighborhood. Drive around a few times during different times of day and night just to see.  Also introduce yourself to potential neighbors just to make sure... Hope you get this one sold soon!

Jul 21, 2015 04:14 AM #117
Thomas F. Scanlon
Borgida & Company P. C., CPA's - Manchester, CT

Nicole Doty - Gilbert Real Estate Expert - Well done. Tough story. Nuts are something we have when grabbing a beer or glass of wine, not dealing with,um, well,the cast members from One Flew Over The Cuckoos  Nest.




Jul 22, 2015 11:40 AM #118
Jan Green
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Saved this one to read in it's entirety, and your follow up above.  Sad to say the "neighbor" has rights, too.  You did the right thing and handled it well. 

Jul 23, 2015 03:43 PM #119
MaryBeth Mills Muldowney
TradeWinds Realty Group LLC - Braintree, MA
Massachusetts Broker Owner

Wow, how about warning a buyer about a crazy seller?  Is that a disclosure too?

My worst experience in 20 plus years in residential had nothing to do with the neighbor LOL but the Seller - who yes was certifiable - but I found out too late - oh a story for another day!

Aug 08, 2015 01:08 PM #120
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Broker/Owner of Zion Realty ZionRealtyAZ.com
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