"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." It was in the middle of the last recession...
The first call was interesting. Strong British accent, very knowledgable, name-dropper, affable. He wanted a 60,000 SF house near the Atlantic coast north of Daytona.
He knew building methods and construction, he had worked with many recognizable celebrities, he was anxious to get a fabulous home started. He raced cars as a past time, loved powerboats, etc.
He would call just about every day for two weeks and talk for 45 minutes or more. He wanted to see a special block construction system that looked like limestone on the outside to simulate a stone-built house. We discussed this system in some detail and I talked to the manufacturer to ask several questions. He wanted to fly out from London and see how a model house, under construction in southern Florida, was progressing.
He mentioned how he'd seen large scale graphics from photos of period houses affixed to the interior walls as to emulate a mansion at a fraction of the cost. This is actually an interesting way to make your 'marble barn' look like a palace if you liked -- at very little cost. The 'fooling of the eye' is a French adage that was first employed in many villas in Renaissance Italy.
He asked me finally to send him a design proposal and within two days we had ironed out something that worked for both of us. His red-lines made sense and I was pleased with the outcome. Very. He said that he would be coming to meet me personally within a couple of weeks and have further detailed discussions.
Next, he wanted a referral for a custom builder and when he got in touch with Mike they had about two weeks of back and forth, at approximately an hour a day. This was during the last recession, so it was a large project and needed to be handled well.
One day I received a call from a real estate agent from the area who asked me if this gentleman was 'real'... I paused and thought a bit, shaken. I responded that I wasn't sure but was wondering as well and then asked what she thought and this is the story she told me:
He had been looking at multiple properties over a 6 month period and was given dozens of contracts to sign but never returned one signed. He was looking at 20 acre tracts with coastal frontage: a multi million dollar land buy. She sent him photos, surveys, etc. and he would keep looking, not committing. There were many phone calls. He had promised to fly out several times to sign a contract even, but never did. He kept promising to come but plans changed at the last minute. Finally, he indicated that he was fond of her and wanted to meet her for a date after they had conducted business. Oh boy. She seemed to be a little frantic at this point. Here was a potential client looking for about a $12 million property, and then was going to build a 60,000 SF house. He was constantly on the phone with her and went over several different options but would not sign anything. She asked if I had received a signed contract. Actually, no. He was going to meet me, sign, and forward a retainer. I had not started any real work. The agent gave me her phone number to contact if I had any news.
Then I had a call from the builder. His secretary thought that the deal smelled foul and she decided to do some digging. Mike complained that this person was on the phone for hours asking technical questions that seemed legitimate but wasn't sure that he was above board. He asked for the real estate agent's number to discuss further. Mike's secretary obtained a couple of phone numbers from the agent and tracked down a street address out of London.
At the same time, the realtor contacted me and claimed that after she indicated to her client that things were strictly business he had stopped calling and she couldn't reach him. The builder's secretary soon found out, through some expert sleuthing, that the persistent caller was living with his mother in an area of government-subsidized housing on the edge of London.
The cell phone he was using went out of service suddenly and we lost complete contact with him.
So...is this account REAL or is it MEMOREX? This story is part of Active Rain's December Challenge for 2019: "Your Craziest Transaction". Comment below and vote: true or made up? See more great stories at the link below:
Here is my second yarn! If you liked this one, link here for another dooser.