My Nightmare in First Time Homebuying, Circa 2004- Or in other words, an industry that needs policing and ethics
The year was 2004, I was 26 years old and newly employed in a job that paid well enough that allowed me to save money to buy my first home. It had been a long term goal/ dream of mine to purchase a home, and at the ripe age of 26 I set out to do just that.
Not knowing hardly anything about how to go about it, I asked some of my buddies for recommendations of a realtor. I was recommended Mr. X (name of course changed to protect the non-innocent, LOL).
He was a pleasant, charismatic guy this Mr. X. He soon sent me lists of available homes for sale in the Knoxville market via email and I began to make my list of homes I was interested in.
We set up a Tuesday to go look at the ones I had selected. He added one to the list, one he said was a “really hot one that just came on the market.”
We went and visited the first 6 houses. None of them were really options for me, so the “best” was saved for last. It was a one level brick cottage built in the 40’s. We entered and I fell in love immediately with the hardwood floors and its character, fenced in back yard and porch. So Mr. X had found me the “right” house.
We wrote up a contract, presented to the seller, and it was eventually accepted through a couple of counters. Through the recommendation of my brother who from afar was advising me, I hired a home inspector – Mr. X didn’t seem too cool on this but didn’t object.
Upon completion of the inspection the inspector gave me the report, which noted a serious foundation problem in the basement, where literally one section of the supporting foundation wall was caving in.
Inspector recommended a structural engineer to evaluate and repair. So that’s what I presented to Mr. X.
Angrily, Mr. X told me the deal was off, the seller would never do that, and instructed me that my earnest money check I could pick up from the company in West Knoxville.
It was then that I realized that Mr. X had no interest in taking care of me as a first time homebuyer- save my brother and I would have been totally screwd in this transaction. I was in shock by this treatment from Mr. X, who had been so nice before.
Facts are facts though. Mr. X was an unethical, looking out for his own interest. I didn’t know what the term was at the time, but Mr. X was the “listing or seller’s agent” for the brick cottage and had buyers lined up to buy the home, to where he could get both sides of the commission. He wasn’t looking out for my best interests but for his bottom line that was painted in greed. To add fire to my grievance, when I went to pick up my check from his office the check wasn’t in a secure location but in public drop box without even an envelope!
I did a search in the MLS for the house this afternoon and in fact Mr. X got both sides of the deal- the buyer was unrepresented.
I was mad at Mr. X and his unethical behavior.
And here is where things get really interesting…
I wrote a letter outlining my grievances to the local realtor board. Did they do anything to reprimand him?
I did get a call from one of their bureaucrats saying that it all was a big misunderstanding and that Mr. X was hurt by my letter. Talk about an industry that doesn’t police itself.
Not only was he about to sell me a house that could very well collapse, but he was rewarded by the system for the full 6% he made off the next poor buyer who bought the lemon that would need serious repairs.
How absurd would this be in a different context?
Imagine you find a thief in your living room when you come home from work one day. Upon your arrival they rush out, without actually having stolen anything. You report this to the police, and the officer who visits you informs that since nothing was actually stolen, no charges can be pressed.
Two offenders here- the unethical agent and the “board” who is supposed to police this conduct.
Which is worse?
This early experience in buying a home has stuck with me these 14 years later, and is one of the foundation points for me on why I not only want to be different but am different. I’m not saying everyone in our industry is unethical, but there are enough of these type of experiences out there, shared by people you probably know or you yourself, that give us a negative reputation.
My reputation of being honest and a “got your back” kinda guy means more to me than pushing that aside for the all mighty commission check.
Protecting people through one of the most important financial decisions they’ll make in life is my goal and mantra.