The sad tale of a negligent agent and his unwise clients…

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Marte Cliff Copywriting

A sad taleAbout 20 years ago my husband built a very odd custom home for a gentleman. This man, in his 60’s, had relocated to our community with his employers, who built ham radios and Morse Code keys.

He had specific ideas about how he wanted his house, and it was odd for two reasons:

The entry door from the driveway went straight into the bathroom, then through the bedroom to the living room/kitchen area. There was an open staircase to the basement, which he left unfinished.

However, the basement had one “special” room. It was a cement “vault” with a fireproof door, the purpose of which was to provide safety for his guns and ammunition. He was fond of saying he'd "Never met a gun I didn't like," and he had dozens of them.

He didn't do any landscaping on his 5 acres, but he did have someone come in and bulldoze a mini-hill behind the house so he could target practice without endangering the neighbors.

The man adopted an abandoned German Shepherd and the two of them lived there happily. He didn’t bother to purchase a refrigerator for the house – he had a cooler and he ate out a lot. He also didn’t bother to brush the dog or vacuum the carpet. Maybe he didn’t have a vacuum – could be.

Unfortunately, several years later the man became ill and passed away.

He had two daughters, one in California and the other in Florida. They came to see what to do about the house and decided that they should finish the basement, replace the carpeting, buy the proper appliances, have it staged, and offer it for sale.

They weren’t interested in the offer from a neighbor who would have taken it as is.

Once the work was done, they listed the house with a friend of their Dad’s from a neighboring town. Of course they listed above market value, because they had just done all that work. That, combined with the strange floor plan and lack of landscaping meant the house would no doubt be on the market for some time.

Meanwhile, they both went home. (And yes, one of them did take the dog.)

The agent advised them that they didn’t need to have the house winterized – they could just leave the heat on. That would make it better for showing purposes. The daughters trusted him to handle things.

And then… winter came and it started to snow. The agent stayed in his snug office 40 snowmiles away and forgot all about his friend’s house. The fuel man came to fill the propane tank and found 3’ of snow in the driveway – so he went away.

Late in April the man’s former employers went by the house to see how it had fared over winter. When they pulled in they noticed the door off the deck was open. That was odd – there was no car in the driveway. They went in and heard water running – was someone taking a shower?

Oh – no. The carpet was soaking wet and the plywood was buckled. They hollered and found no one there. So they went downstairs and found the newly installed sheetrock from the ceilings floating in 2’ of water in the basement.

It had had plenty of time to accumulate since the broken pipes had thawed a couple of months earlier.

Had their agent been there to check on the house? No, he hadn’t. Not since the previous October. But he assured the daughters that it would be OK – the insurance would cover the renovation.

What insurance?

They said, “Since we owned it outright, we didn’t think we had to spend money on insurance.”

We heard that they did try to put the place back in order, but it has been 5 or 6 years now and the house still stands vacant.

Did they sue the agent? No. I thought they would, but they didn't.

 

Sad character courtesy of Stuart Miles @freedigitalphotos.net

 

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Rainmaker
3,474,614
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Marte - Yes, a  sad tale.  Lesson learned?  Maybe but obviously, too late.  

Dec 07, 2019 04:23 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Hi Michael Jacobs - yes, too late for the daughters. Hopefully the agent learned something. The next client might take him to the cleaners for that kind of negligence.

Dec 07, 2019 04:26 PM #2
Rainmaker
145,210
Raymond Henson
eXp Realty of California, Inc. (lic. #01878277) - Elk Grove, CA
Realtor

Wow, what a story!  I have a guy working on a renovation in Ohio for me right now.  He told me I did not have to worry about winterizing.  I think I will call him first thing in the morning. Thank you so much for the post. (Btw-I did just get the water bill, it was negligible, knock on wood!)

Dec 07, 2019 04:46 PM #3
Ambassador
4,012,589
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Hi Marte- looks like a lot of dropped balls!  And let's hope that Raymond Henson has a better outcome!!

Dec 07, 2019 06:05 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Raymond Henson Good idea! Check to make sure. In my story there would have been no water bill to give a clue - the house is on 5 acres with a private well. I'm sure the power bill was "up there" with the pump running steady since the thaw, but those women obviously weren't too bright.

Dec 07, 2019 07:34 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Kathy Streib Yes, I hope he does. If someone is there every day with the heat on and the snow plowed for the fuel truck, it's probably fine. In this case, the agent didn't bother to hire a person to plow and didn't check on the house. If he had, he might have noticed that the last person to show it left the door wide open. I'm sure that caused the fuel tank to empty sooner than it would have.

But still - if it's your isting you shouldn't ignore it for 6 months! He just didn't want to drive down here.

Dec 07, 2019 07:37 PM #6
Rainmaker
3,275,255
Nina Hollander
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Charlotte, NC
Your Charlotte/Ballantyne/Waxhaw/Fort Mill Realtor

Well! I am speechless, Marte. And that doesn't happen very often to me!

Dec 08, 2019 05:27 AM #7
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Nina Hollander Yes, it was pretty insane. No more than I might have expected from that agent (Yes, I did know him.) but no insurance? That's crazy.

Dec 08, 2019 08:44 AM #8
Ambassador
847,649
Mimi Foster
Falcon Property Solutions - Colorado Springs, CO
Voted Colorado Springs Best Realtor

That was a sad story on so many levels. One thing I've learned over the years, take the first offer seriously. Why expend thousands of dollars in hopes of recouping it? 

Dec 08, 2019 09:42 AM #9
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Mimi Foster So true. I imagine that their Dad's friend, the agent, advised them not to take it, because at that point he probably wouldn't have been involved. He's that kinda' guy...

Dec 08, 2019 01:06 PM #10
Rainmaker
4,204,721
Joan Cox
House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373 - Denver, CO
Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time

Marte, that is a sad story, and those kids should have gone after that REALTOR that failed to do their job! 

Dec 21, 2019 10:32 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,573,085
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I thought so too, Joan Cox. It was obvious that he hadn't checked in on his listing since some time in the fall. It wasn't even him who checked in April and found the water running out of those broken pipes. 

Dec 21, 2019 12:28 PM #12
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