Saturday, 19 October 2013


Up before the sun again this morning.  This is turning into a habit!  Usually, I rather like it but this time it's just because I can't shut my brain down.  I know that sounds silly.

Had probably the toughest real estate closing of my 12 year career yesterday.   A week ago I met with my Buyers at the house and we identified some pretty major deficiencies still outstanding.  With a week until close and with assurances from the listing agent for the Seller that everything was being taken care of, my Buyers eagerly counted down the days until they could get the keys and move in.  Rightly so.  This is how it works when all the major players are actually checked in.  

Well, It was apparent during our pre-close inspection Thursday evening that the builder had run into difficulties as every single outstanding deficiency was still outstanding and not complete.  It had been inspected for occupancy and was not given an occupancy permit.  This resulted in calls to my Buyers lawyer for guidance on what to do. We decided to send a list of deficiencies to the lawyer and to the listing agent that night and in the morning, close as scheduled and request a sizable holdback ($15,000).  The upgrades tacked on to the purchase price (over and above list price) alone that weren't done totalled about $9,000.  Then there were many other little and not so little things that weren't done that we added the extra money for. 

Things went South pretty quickly yesterday.  Not only did the Builder not complete the house according to the terms of the contract, his lawyer felt a holdback of only a couple of thousand dollars was more appropriate.  Keep in mind that my Buyers paid over and above the list price of the house for agreed upon upgrades ( appliances,  electric heat pump, etc) that were not done, not to mention the other basic construction deficiences.  To say that my Buyers should only request a couple of thousand dollars to be held back to ensure the completion of these items by the builder was ridiculous.  My Buyers' lawyer and the Builder's lawyer went back and forth all day and finally settled on a more appropriate holdback amount.  My Buyers got the keys to their house at 4 PM after keeping their moving van on the side of the road all day at a pretty hefty hourly charge.  After a few tears, too much headache.   They had no place to go back to as the new Buyer of their condo was in the process of moving in.

 I was so glad that certain things were written into the contract along with quoted dollar amounts and that months ago I asked the listing agent to change the listing cut to reflect the updates and price with updates, it made our case with the deficiencies much stronger.   I had to step back and let the lawyer do his thing.  My Buyers were in good hands but I don't like that I had to turn them over and then step back and watch this unfold from a distance and not interfere.  I'd warned them the night before that according to their lawyer this is what I had to do.  But warning them and then actually having them go through it are two different things.  All I could do is sit on the sidelines, make myself available for comments or questions and return each and every text or phone call as promptly as possible.
I hated it.   And I felt helpless.   And I felt so bad for my Buyers that they were going through this.  And I felt betrayed by the Builder and the listing agent.  And then I just felt mad.   Lots of things were not disclosed to me that should have been, both concerning the status of the listing agents themselves and concerning the deficiencies and the situation in general.  Had certain things been disclosed weeks ago my Buyers would have had more options, such as extending the closing dates of both this house and of their condo, or even walking away and finding a new home.  This mess on closing day could have been avoided with proper disclosure.  I feel that they took away my clients right to choose and that just does not sit well with me.  

So I was on pins and needles most of the day yesterday and then in the evening and through most of the night I've been replaying everything in my head.  I can't shut it down.  I'm mentally tired and just need today to chill out and regroup and figure out what I can do in the future, if anything, to ensure this never happens to another one of my Buyers.  I am so thankful to their Lawyer and his paralegal,  and to my broker for all their guidance and help. 

I will not name names but I will do my best to avoid working with this Builder and these two agents in the future. And that upsets me as well....we as Realtors have to battle negative public perception all the time.  No wonder the public feels as they do.  I am discouraged.   And yet it makes me all the more determined to just do the best job that I can for my clients and protect them the best that I can and just be there for them as much as I can.  
And you can help too... it's so important, as consumers, to speak up through and to the proper channels when things aren't right.  Feedback is how we improve, grow and fix what's wrong.  On the other hand, when you encounter a product, service or professional that blew your socks off (or even just did a great job) let others know.  Word of mouth testimonials from friends and family carry so much more weight than any other form of advertising or marketing out there.  

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