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Look Around: Is Someone Sabotaging Your Sale?

A house just won’t sell and you may be stumped as to why– and occasionally someone may be sabotaging your sale. Some real estate professionals have found that the saboteur is a neighbor or even the seller’s own child.

In one situation highlighted in The Wall Street Journal, a real estate agent had been showing a $10 million mansion in Los Angeles’s Benedict Canyon area for several months. Buyers responded positively to the home but no one was buying. The agent later discovered that the sellers’ housekeeper was worried about losing her job if the home sold, so she gave buyers a long list of problems with the house, such as a neighbor’s barking dog, the loud echoes of the canyon at night and a neighbor’s loud parties.

After learning about this, the agent told the seller to make sure the housekeeper wasn’t at the showings, and a buyer was found within weeks.

In another incident, a renter in Manhattan who did not want to move would freeze the apartment prior to every showing and leave rat traps lying around, even though there weren’t any rats.

Other attempts to sabotage a deal are even more blatant: A teenager was upset that his home was about to be sold so he threw a huge party while his parents were away. The boys and his friends painted graffiti all over the tennis court and guest house the day before the final walkthrough, the buyer’s agent Joseph Montemarano said.

“The parents had to pay to have the court repainted and resurfaced and repair the guest house,” Montemarano says. “Luckily, my buyers were pretty OK with it. They just told the seller to make it right.”

And sometimes the deal killer is more unintentional.

Leslie Turner, a real estate pro in Charleston, S.C., recalls a local building inspector who was discussing the home’s condition with the buyer and using alarming language in describing the house that ended up spooking the buyers. The inspector was hired to check out an 1882 home that was under contract for $1.5 million. His report, however, “made it sound like there was a parade of imaginary horribles,” and the couple ended up walking away from the home.

“You always want to protect your clients and have them have a really thorough home inspection, but it’s just the way this guy delivers the news – he doesn’t have a good bedside manner,” Turner told the Wall Street Journal. “I’ve seen people miss out on perfectly good properties because of this deal killer.”

The Charleston home sold the next day to a different buyer who understood the quirks of historic homes and wasn’t spooked by the inspector’s report.

Source: “Who Killed the Deal to Sell Your House? It Was an Inside Job,” The Wall Street Journal (May 15, 2018) [Log-in required.]

I am one of the Managing Brokers for United Realty Group, Inc. I have been servicing the residential real estate market since January 2007 and have formed a real passion for the industry. With high standards and a strong moral compass, I am pleased to serve our industry and URG's REALTORS on a daily basis.

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