My Craziest Transaction - A December Contest
As a lender, I see a lot. I see people's financials, their credit, inside their homes. Over the years, there have been a lot of disturbing things - spouses with wild spending habits their partners knew nothing about. Homes of hoarders. Folks who make a ton of money and have a ton of flash while in reality they're drowning in debt. Agents behaving badly. But when I saw the December ActiveRain contest for the craziest transaction story, I didn't have to think too hard.
Back when I lived in Pennsylvania, I connected with a real estate agent in an old coal mining and oil town. Since that industry business dried up, the town was low income, low home values, and some complex transactions. It wasn't the best place to earn a ton of money, but for a new loan officer, it was the perfect place to learn just about anything and everything about doing loans- how to deal with various water and waste systems (septic, wells, cisterns, and everything else you can imagine). Older homes with lead and asbestos. Clients with interesting income and credit challenges. People not well versed in finances or technology. In all honesty, I loved it. I worked with some of the nicest, most appreciative clients and real estate agents in my entire career in that area. But one transaction was just nuts.
I was introduced to the client by my Realtor friend, and connected with him to take an application:
Me: "I see your wages are hourly, how many hours do you work each week?"
Client: "Typically 70-80"
Sure enough, his paystubs were full of overtime pay, and it was consistent for at least the previous 2 years. The client worked 6am-6pm 6 days a week, and 8 hours on the 7th day durnig a typical week. That meant 2 things - for one, we had plenty of income for him to buy a home in this area. And 2, the client could only talk BEFORE 6am during the week (when leaving work, he explained, he got some dinner, and pretty much went straight to bed).
The guy seemed nice enough, so I'd wake up at 5am during our time working together any time I needed to follow up with him, explain things, and help him get his finances and documents in order. I was not a morning person, so this was going above and beyond - but for about a month, our 5am calls moved things along while he went under contract and through the loan process, all the way to settlement.
And then came settlement day. A happy time. A joyous time. A time when a lifelong renter finally got the keys to the place they could call their own. There was only one problem. Our client didn't show up to settlement. Like a ghost, he vanished the day he was supposed to wrap up his loan. The Realtor didn't know where he was, I sure didn't, and the title company didn't either. For a couple of hours we did all we could - called his employer - but he had taken the day off so they weren't sure where he was. We didn't know his family. He lived alone. The agent went to his house to check on him - no one answered.
After a few hours of operating as a real estate search team, the Realtor was able to track his brother down, and finally someone knew where he was - jail. Apparently someone had a little too much fun celebrating the fact they had a day off and were buying a new home, had a little more than a little too much to drink, and made the decision to get behind the wheel of a car. Upon hearing the story from the Realtor, it turned out this wasn't our buyer's first DUI. It also wasn't his 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th. I forget the exact number, but if memory serves me right, it was somewhere around #10.
So what do you do when your client is locked up in the drunk tank the morning they're supposed to buy a home? After all, the seller is relying on those funds to make THEIR next move. Well, this loan officer decided he'd have a conversation with the police, so I called the local sheriff's office where he was being held. I explained the situation, and asked if my client was still intoxicated. He was not, but he was being held while charges were placed and his fate was determined. After talking with the sheriff, we made arrangements for the police to transport our client to settlement, allow him to sign for his new home, and transport him back to his new home - not the one we financed, but the jail cell he'd be calling home for a bit.
This was by far the craziest ending to a purchase I've ever had, and thankfully it took place in very small town, very rural America, where the sheriff knew everyone including our client and the folks selling their home. I lost touch with this client, and for years after my Realtor friend and I would recount the memory of the police bringing the client to buy a home. I'm not sure whatever happened to him, but I hope he got the help he clearly needed, and lived happily ever after.