Crazy requests, wild concessions – tales of a frustrated home seller…

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pngThis is a story about selling your home during a housing recession.

Sellers with homes listed today will be able to identify with some of the antics that buyers in a bear market will pull.  But this is about a listing that was active 14 years ago in 1996 – during another deep housing recession.   I wasn’t a real estate agent at the time,  I was a seller.  My mother had just died after a prolonged illness and I was listing her house for sale.  The house in question was a beautiful 1932 Tudor sitting on prime property with sweeping golf course views in wonderful residential area in White Plains.  There was a good deal of emotion involved since the home in question had been designed by my Grandmother and built by my Grandfather.

Although I wasn’t an agent  I was smart enough to read the newspapers and  so I know it was a crummy market.   The house would have been worth roughly $600k just a few short years ago – but in 1996-1997 I was hoping for about $550k – but knew I would probably only see a litte more than $500k. Gut instinct told me to rent the place, but my co-executor was adamant that the house had to be sold.

Nothing prepared me for the crazy home buyers that came through looking for a “deal”.

90% of them were bottom-feeders looking to steal a house – and looking for ANY excuse to chisel  the price to the bone.   My beleaguered broker  came to me with all sorts of concession requests – some of which made  sense.  But more often than not, the requests bordered on the absurd. Some of the more hilarious issues are worth noting because when we see frustrated sellers – we need to be aware that their pain is real and that some of the crazy concessions being asked by buyers can be truly ridiculous.

Among the more ridiculous issues I encountered:

1. “We are offering $50k less than listing price because  the fact that one bedroom is on the ground floor, makes this a 3 BR house. “

My response to my broker:   That non-bedroom was quite large with two ample closets and a full bath.  Further there are two other full baths in the house and an additional half-bath – so there is no bathroom shortage either.

2. “Since the house is ‘old’ I want the ENTIRE PLUMBING AND ELECTRICAL SYSTEMS replaced from scratch at the seller’s expense.”

My response to my broker: Sorry, the electrical is fully updated and I’m not pulling every single pipe out and replacing the entire plumbing system.

3. “Since the house obviously has lead paint – I want all the walls stripped of all lead paint at the seller’s expense.”

My response to my broker: You’ve got to be kidding – it’s a 3500 sq.ft. house with cathedral ceilings.  Tell them to  buy a newer home if they feel that strongly about it.

4. “I don’t like the Tudor look of the wood beams across the living room ceiling.  I want $20k off the house to be able to drywall over them.”

My response to my broker: If they don’t like Tudors, why are they bidding on a Tudor home?  There is a glut of homes on the market and this is TUDOR – so much so that Henry VIII would find the home quite comfortable.

5. “I want all the asbestos removed completely even if it is encased and not friable at the seller’s  expense.”

My response to my broker:  Sorry, the asbestos is contained and in good condition (not friable) I’m not about to open Pandora’s box and create a problem that didn’t exist before.

6. “We want all the windows changed out at the seller’s expense because they are so old.”

My response to my broker: Yes most of the windows ARE old but the reason they are still there is that they are one-of-a-kind original leaded stained glass windows!  I’m not taking those out.
Note: My favorite comments involved the balcony.  To me it was a beautiful and elegant feature – but boy did it become a bone of contention.

7. “I have two children, that balcony is DANGEROUS, they could fall off.  But I’ll consider it anyway if you knock off  $20k.”

My response to my broker: How did they determine that each child’s life was worth about $10k?  $20k is not going to solve this problem.  They either need to admit that this is a red herring or move on to a home that they have fewer fears about.

8. “The balcony overlooks the living room and there is a big picture window.  I could see a burglar entering through the LR window – swinging on the chandelier, landing on the balcony and entering our bedrooms at night.”

My response to my broker:  They’ve  been watching too many action movies.  My family has lived in this house for nearly 65 years and you would be amazed to know that NO ONE has ever tried to do that.

So when I have sellers who are tearing their hair – I try to look back over 13 years  and remember crazy and out-of-control things seemed to me.  I would add that my ability to play hard ball reflected my situation.  There was no lein on the home and at the time, property taxes weren’t that high.  I had the luxury of being somewhat picky.  For those who really need to sell,  its a far more complex problem.

© 2010 Ruthmarie Garcia Hicks All rights reserved.

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