The zaniest sale I've ever had.

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Cornerstone Business Group Inc 0225086119

Carol Williams and Anna "the top banana" Kruchten have challenged us to write about the craziest real estate sale we've ever had, and I had to stop and think for a minute. Which one should I choose? I've had a few pretty crazy sales in the past five years.

One stands out, and even though it ultimately closed, I'm not 100% we were ever fully confident that it should have. It started out fine. I had a buyer looking for a private property where he could keep his bomb sniffing dogs when he wasn't training them at a local facility. He was concerned that neighbors might be concerned about the temperament of the dogs since they had a unique occupation. So, he wanted something very private.

He would only be in town during the work week. It really boiled down to a place to sleep and then work. Weekends were spent at home in another community. After a few disappointing showings, we found the perfect location. No immediate neighbors, a stream ran by the home and the house was not visible from any roads. Perfect.

We wrote a contract and it was immediately accepted. So far, so good. The home inspection went well and the seller made a few repairs. Things were still flowing along perfectly. Then it started to come off the rails. 

The closing attorney contacted me and told me he didn't think the seller owned the property. What? It turns out that the seller was the daughter of the deceased owner, who may not have owned the property. The gentleman who sold it to the currently deceased owner may not have owned it either.

The first suspected owner used the house as a weekend getaway where he shacked up with his girlfriend. She was a legitimate owner of the property. When she died, the property was passed to the boyfriend. The only problem was there was no record of the transaction. The first suspected owner also passed away right after he sold it to the currently deceased owner.

When the attorneys tracked down the family of the first suspected owner, they referred them to a son who worked in corrections and was hard to reach. Finally, they reached him, but he would not cooperate in solving the mystery because he resented his father having an affair. The other siblings followed suit. 

The attorneys decided to go back in time and look for records related to the girlfriend, which were sparse. So they looked for her death record, but there was none to be found. They asked if we could get a photograph of her headstone to confirm her date of birth and  that she was indeed deceased. We found out that she had been cremated and her remains were buried under a rock on the property. They were long gone.

We found out that first suspected owner had also been cremated and his ashes were dropped in the creek. Finally, a record of the girlfriend's death was found in the state capital, and the process moved to the boyfriend's ownership. There was no deed recorded in the courthouse and the only thing we had to go on was his word prior to his death.

A neighbor, who knew both the boyfriend and the girlfriend, came forward and laid out what he knew about them, and the story started to take on some sense of sanity. When it was all said and done, after months of research and endless stone walls, a title company accepted the neighbor's testimony of events and the property went to closing. They accepted that the currently deceased owner did actually own the property. The rest of us walked away from the closing table still scratching our heads, confused and not really convinced that any of the previous owners actually owned the property.  

*I did go back and pulled the file and yes, a title policy was issued for the sale. 


Submitted to the December Challenge: Your Craziest Transaction.



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MichelleCherie Carr Crowe Just Call...408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Wow, that sounds like a nightmare-thank God it closed. At least the new people now officially own it.

Dec 04, 2019 01:28 PM #1
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 Mike,
I do have trouble believing any title company would accept a neighbors word on hearsay.  Did they issue a title insurance policy or just agree to close the transaction based on the wishes of those involved? 

Dec 04, 2019 01:50 PM #2
Lisa Weiler
PM LLC - Los Angeles, CA
Interior Design Expert & Home Stager

That sounds like a really crazy experience. Glad it worked out in the end.

Dec 04, 2019 01:57 PM #3
Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

This one is crazy enough to be true or fake. can't make this stuff up!

My question is the same as Carol Williams Did they get title insurance? 

Dec 04, 2019 02:29 PM #4
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hi Mike - Zany - Crazy - Yes,  I do believe this qualifies.  

Dec 04, 2019 02:33 PM #5
Myrl Jeffcoat
GreatWest Realty - Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Real Estate Agent

I've had only a handful of transactions that had clouds on the titles.  And, fortunately, it was a good title company that brought them to a successful close!

Dec 04, 2019 06:01 PM #6
Bob "RealMan" Timm
Ward County Notary Services - Minot, ND
Owner of Ward Co. Notary Services, retired Realtor

That is the craziest thing I've ever heard Mike Cooper, GRI .

Dec 04, 2019 07:19 PM #7
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Mike.

While I've dealt with difficult people and interesting circumstances, this is way beyond anything I can think of

Dec 05, 2019 01:19 AM #8
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning Mike Cooper, GRI -  that is some mystery.  I hope the got full title insurance.

Dec 05, 2019 07:46 AM #9
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Solutions - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

This is a great story, Mike. It takes dedication for everyone to stay in the game to get to the closing table. Good for you!

Dec 05, 2019 09:26 AM #10
Anna Banana Kruchten Broker/Owner, CRB, CRS
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ

Hi Mike there used to be a title company that would insure otherwise 'shaky' deals. I've never had one quite like yours where there really isn't any real proof of ownership exact hearsay.  WOW!!  You somehow pulled that one off.

Dec 05, 2019 09:33 AM #11
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Mike- I'll say this was crazy and you all had to have been persistent and trying to track down the real and legal owner. 

Dec 07, 2019 01:08 PM #12
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

I may have already commented on this one, but I’m glad I took another look haha. Hang in there, Mike!

Dec 13, 2019 10:19 PM #13
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher

Kathy Streib It might take me the President or in the National Guard haha! This is some real craziness!

Dec 13, 2019 10:21 PM #14
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Well, Mike, I am of two opinions.

1. You are full of baloney and have woven a great tale.

2. You handle a transaction that would have had most agents throwing up their hands and calling it quits.

I am leaning towards #2.

Dec 18, 2019 05:35 PM #15
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

A paper trail is always preferred but you had to follow the ashes

Dec 31, 2019 01:30 PM #16
Debra Leisek
Bay Realty,Inc Homer Alaska - Homer, AK

Ashes to ashes and dust to dust.... i cannot believe a title company gave clear title to that property... Wow! That is one Crazy Closing!

Jan 02, 2020 01:17 AM #17
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Mike Cooper, GRI

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