Just Out of Spite...

Real Estate Agent with Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA VA License # 0225089470

Just Out of Spite...


It is truly sad how buyers and sellers can get themselves twisted over contract negotiations.  Tempers will flare, one side feels the other is getting "too good a deal" and then decisions are made out of spite.  The most jaw dropping of a spiteful mindset happened this past week.  Let me set the scene.

I am representing buyer-clients that found their dream home through a friend they already know in the dream community.  Before I was ever engaged to write an offer, the buyers set up their own showing with the seller directly.  They were honest with each other (imagine that) about their motivations.  The seller is the son of the deceased owner.  The estate has not been handling the sale of this property quickly enough, so he is the newly appointed executor.  My buyers told him the property was perfect for them and they wanted to make an offer ASAP.  The seller threw out a number and and that of an agent that he had either intended to hire, or already hired, to help with the sale.  

At this point, the buyers came back to me.  We had already spoken about their wants and seen a couple of example properties to figure out what might work for them.  We signed a buyer agency agreement and I called Maria, the listing agent of the home my buyers wanted.  Enter the first annoying decision.  The estate seller was only willing to pay about a third of what my buyer agency agreement laid out as my fee.  Maria almost sounded hopeful that this was a deal breaker.  Nope.  My clients saw my value and were willing to make up the difference, so on we went to write up an offer at the even higher price than the seller had given to my buyers in person.  And we asked for a late December settlement date, as the seller had expressed a need/want/desire to get this house off of his plate before the end of tax year.


The seller agreed to the terms HE had laid out and the only contingency for my clients, who were paying cash, was a home inspection.  There would have been no need to ask for repairs had the inspector not discovered a slow leak from the bottom of the water heater.  The inspector shut off the valve to stop water from entering the appliance, but stressed that the fifty gallons inside was eventually going to find its way out either slowly dripping out the bottom, or in what might become a "gushing" situation if the tank burst open.  We telegraphed the need to have the water heater replaced ASAP to Maria and sent paperwork asking for the repair.  It took one day for the seller to say, "No repairs."  

Apparently, the seller was tweaked that he wasn't getting enough for the home and wanted to force my buyers out.  I did mention he was getting more than he had originally asked my buyers in person, right?  His agent was having a hard time laying out the hard core reality that hitting the MLS with a more palatable commission to the buyer's agent,  getting ready for market (there was still a ton of estate items in the home and it smelled of a nursing home in one bedroom,) was going to be costly.  Carpet, paint, junk removal...and now a water heater.  Logic was nowhere to be found.  He wasn't having any of it.

The next solution?  We begged him to drain the water to prevent more damage before settlement.  My buyers even offered to reimburse him the cost for it at settlement.  The seller went silent.  Was he swept away in the gush of water running out of the water heater?  

Apparently, the realitythat the home was conveying as is, as of the date of the home inspection, at which time there was no water damage, was not sinking in to his head or possibly, Maria's.  It seemed he really wanted to chance it, have the thing burst open and laugh as my buyers walked away.  No thought was given to consequences of that spiteful decision until I laid out the cost of new flooring, kitchen cabinets, drywall and a mold remediation for him...not to mention the possible loss of priceless family items in the path of possible destruction.  

As it turned out, when his game of chicken failed and my buyers decided to stay in the deal and chance the risk of water damage for a later fight at walk through, the seller signed that he would drain the water heater to be reimbursed later by the buyers.  There was nothing but spite in that move and it could have cost that seller dearly.  



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Show All Comments
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

There is a reason that selling a home is considered one of life's major stressors.  It is important to try and keep emotions in check while making wise decisions in the process.   The water heater will require replacement at some point.  And, if the buyer walks away, who will take care of the issue then.  Not only that, but in the state of California, the seller would be obligated to disclose that to any future buyer. 

Dec 01, 2019 03:40 PM #1
Rose Mary Justice
Synergy Realty Pros - Dandridge, TN
Synergy Realty Pros

Sad situation, but glad he came around.  Now on to the final walk thru.  Hope this closes for you without any further ado.

Dec 01, 2019 05:36 PM #2
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Chris Ann,
I suspect much of the problem could have been avoided if the buyer and seller had not met in person first.  Perhaps the buyer acted a little too anxious and the seller thought they could refuse any requests, reasonable or not. 

Dec 01, 2019 05:36 PM #3
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good evening Chris Ann Cleland ,

Love it when the seller and buyer meet first in a showing without agents. Buyers tip their hand and let the seller know how much they want the home..not good. Glad it is working out and have my fingers crossed for a smooth closing.

Dec 01, 2019 05:47 PM #4
Lottie Kendall
Compass - San Francisco, CA
Helping make your real estate dreams a reality

I hope that all transpired before the Thanksgiving holiday so you could relax after all the stress.

Dec 01, 2019 06:49 PM #5
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Chris Ann this seller is almost more trouble than he is worth! If I were the buyer I would walk away from a jerk like that! He is VERY LUCKY to have buyers as committed as yours

Dec 01, 2019 08:44 PM #6
Bob Crane
Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams Fox Cities - Stevens Point, WI
Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671

Hi Chris Ann,  What an ordeal.  Nothing easy about this sale - for anyone.  Glad he finally came around and it appears to be smooth sailing...

Dec 01, 2019 09:44 PM #7
Barbara Todaro
RE/MAX Executive Realty - Franklin, MA
Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team

Good morning, Chris Ann Cleland and that's called "an exciting and rewarding career" in real estate.... chuck full of stress!!! glad it all turned out well.

Dec 02, 2019 03:01 AM #8
Wayne Martin
Wayne M Martin - Chicago, IL
Real Estate Broker - Retired

Good morning Chris Ann. Sometimes you have to understand "You can't fix stupid"! Patience is a virtue! Enjoy your day.

Dec 02, 2019 04:48 AM #9
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Karma for Mr Seller/Agent could be a biatch!

Good karma for the buyers . . . 

People get really silly, don't they?

Dec 02, 2019 05:32 AM #10
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Hi Chris Ann... I must admit that I've heard variations of this story over the years and have never understood the motivation for that kind of behavior. It's often like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Dec 02, 2019 05:59 AM #11
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Chris Ann - while any transaction between friends may sound/seem like such a good idea....there's a reason why real estate transfers in writing and best when it occurs in a business-like manner.  Here's hoping for a good end of year new home celebration for your clients.  

Dec 02, 2019 06:22 AM #12
Patricia Feager, MBA, CRS, GRI,MRP
Selling Homes Changing Lives

WOW! Glad it all worked out! There were some good comments too. I liked what Myrl had to say and your comment too. 

Dec 02, 2019 06:58 AM #13
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Did the seller throw out a price before consulting with his agent? Perhaps she told him he could have gotten a higher price - and failed to mention the cost of getting the house ready for market.

Dec 03, 2019 09:36 PM #14
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

First of all, such cute avatars in the post!  What an ordeal, and yes, no sense to it at all on the sellers' part.  They were stupid and would not admit it. I often find in deals that sometimes, one party insists on getting things their way from the beginning. It's an ego or power issue or ...just silly.  

Dec 05, 2019 07:35 AM #15
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Chris Ann:

That is quite a story. It's a shame people's emotions take over and result in shenanigans which could really end up costing. He sounded rather vindictive, and not very mature! Glad it all worked out. He's lucky the water heater did go before - we've experienced that but fortunately it was in the garage!!


Dec 14, 2019 05:31 PM #16
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Chris Ann Cleland

Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
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