Seller Beware

This post has been a work in progress. I started it weeks ago, did some edits, then more edits, then more edits. I’ve decided to quit editing and just put the story out there for those who have been waiting to know the rest of the story.

On February 28th, our house went on the market. We had made a trip to Illinois so the house could be painted, listed and an open house held without us being in the way. Our original plan was to return March 5th and get more packing done in anticipation of selling our house, but things went much better than anticipated. We had so many interested buyers that there was no open house and by March 2nd, I was on the phone with our realtor going thru 29 offers on our home. It was crazy!!!

After a long conversation with our realtor and then going over details with hubby, we chose a buyer. The realtor contacted the buyer’s agent and received confirmation that they wanted to move forward. The contract was signed, and we were officially in process of making our move a reality.

As I shared in my last post, the offer wasn’t the highest. It was over our asking price by a sizeable amount, but the larger factors were the large sum they were putting into earnest as well as their offer to pay other fees that would have normally fallen on us as the seller. There was no financial contingency. There was no appraisal contingency. They only wanted a two-day option period. All of these things combined made us feel like they wanted to buy our house more than any other potential buyer that put in an offer. With everything on the line, we believed there was little risk of them backing out of the deal without a very good reason such as an unknown problem with the house. Overall, it just felt like a great offer.

The two-day option period was over before we even made it back to Texas and we anxiously awaited word on the appraisal.

That was our first red flag.

There was virtually no movement on getting the appraisal done and with a March 30th close date (requested by the buyer), that needed to be done asap to avoid a delay in closing. Our realtor reached out to the buyer’s realtor and expressed her concern that the appraisal had not been scheduled. Within a few hours of that contact, we received word that the appraisal was scheduled for the following day. Typically, there is a little more warning, but we were willing to accommodate to keep things moving.

A few days later the appraiser had written the report and sent it on to the buyer’s agent. As expected, it didn’t come in as high as the offer, but higher than listing price. The appraisal, however, was the beginning of a very stressful time with this buyer.

Please note above . . . . . the buyer did not have an appraisal contingency in the offer. When there are 29 offers, there aren’t usually appraisal contingencies because that is 29 people trying to make their offer as enticing as possible. If the buyer has the financial means to do so, they will put in an offer over asking and pay the difference out of pocket. The buyer had signed the contract without the contingency and our realtor had done her due diligence to confirm that this buyer did in fact have the financial means to pay the difference between our asking price and their offer price. But once the appraisal came back, the threats of walking away from the deal if we didn’t renegotiate began. The buyer requested that we agree to meet somewhere in the middle between the offer price and appraisal price. By this point, we were not only in process of selling our house to this buyer, but we were also in process of buying a new house in Illinois. We are reasonable people and try to be understanding, so in good faith, we agreed to renegotiate and meet somewhere in the middle. This would prevent delays on the sale and purchase of the houses and allow us to get moved on time.

Things were moving forward on the sale of our home as well as on the purchase of our new home. Both the appraisal and home inspections were completed. A few things showed up on our new home and the seller quickly corrected them. Everything was moving along smoothly on the purchase of our home.

The buyer of our home also requested a home inspection, and it was quickly scheduled and completed. We anticipated there would be a list of repairs the buyer wanted us to make. Not that our house was in dire need of repairs, but there is always something a home inspector will find that went unnoticed by the homeowner. After all, that is their job. However, that list never arrived. We were thrilled to get no requests from the buyer, but this was another red flag.

I was making great progress on getting our house packed up and ready for the move. We were a week past the price renegotiation when the buyer again comes to us threatening to walk away if we wouldn’t agree to lower the price to appraisal and also wanted an additional two weeks to work with another bank on financing their loan.


We thought we had come to a reasonable agreement. The buyer signed the amendment. The buyer got a home inspection, and no requests were made. Or did the buyer get a home inspection? They only requested an hour which is very little time to thoroughly go over everything inside and outside of the house. We would later discover that a home inspector was never hired. Instead, the buyer’s realtor walked thru the house. Strange!

But the bigger problem was that this buyer was making a stressful situation much more stressful. We no longer trusted this was the end of the requests and we weren’t willing to continue playing this game. We had 28 other offers and somehow had chosen the buyer who didn’t want to actually honor the offer they made. This time our response was that we would stay with the amended agreement in place, but since the buyer said they would walk away if we didn’t agree to renegotiate, we also provided them with their walking papers should they choose to follow thru and walk away. The documents included a document they had to sign stating they did not want to continue with the purchase of our home as well as a second document stating they would release their earnest money to us. After all, there were no contingencies in place that would allow them to walk away with their earnest money. 1

Instead of getting a response back, we got crickets. No words what-so-ever from the buyer’s realtor. This went on and on and on. All attempts made by our realtor to get an answer on whether or not they would honor the amended agreement or sign the documents so we could move on with a new buyer were met with silence. Red flags were flying high, and we were no longer interested in working with this buyer. We did not trust this buyer’s ability to follow thru and not continue to ask for more and more and more from us. Without the documents signed though, we could not move forward with any other buyer. We were trapped with no great way forward.

With no response, the title company got involved in trying to get some answers. This would have a definite impact on them as well and they wanted answers. They got no response either. However, with so many people cc’d on the email, our realtor decided to try one more thing. It was risky and she knew she might be in trouble, but not responding to requests was no longer acceptable. So, she sent an email to the buyer and cc’d the buyer’s realtor. This is what it took to finally get a response and the response, or should I say responses, were unbelievable.

The first response was from the buyer’s realtor who stated the buyer had a heart attack from all the stress of this real estate deal, but was due to be released the following day.

Yet it gets better.

Our realtor responded to the email from the buyer’s realtor expressing that she was sorry to hear the buyer was in the hospital. However, since the buyer was due to be released the following day, it appeared everything was going to be okay and as soon as possible, the buyer needed to sign the paperwork provided.

This request also prompted the spouse of the buyer to respond to our realtor. The spouse stated there was no heart attack, but hypertension caused the buyer to be taken to the hospital and admitted for treatment. The spouse expressed concern over the amount of stress our refusal to come down to appraisal had caused and was worried that the breadwinner of their family was hospitalized which was costing them more money. In an effort to reduce stress, we were informed that the spouse had been told we had agreed to come down to appraisal. We were asked to go along with this lie and to show good faith, we would be given the difference once the buyer’s spouse had a job and could save up the money. Until then, we were offered jewelry that would be hand delivered to us at our home. Further explanation was given in regards to this being the first home they had ever purchased and how they were shown a document that said our house was worth the amount of money they had offered as a purchase price.

In the end, we did not honor the request. We could not honor the request because the request was illegal. We were being bribed and would not participate.

Several more days went by, and we were getting nowhere. Finally, after almost a week, the buyer sent an email to our realtor stating that there would be no more documents signed and while aware there would be legal repercussions, the buyer would not be closing on the purchase of our home. We were only a few days from closing on both homes and not only was the sale of our house falling thru but the purchase of our new home was at risk of falling thru as well.

During all of this we discovered something else. The earnest money put down to purchase our house was worthless to us unless the buyer signed the release of earnest money document. The buyer stated there would be more signatures unless we lowered the price to appraisal or allowed time to secure other financing with a lower interest rate. We found out that in order to get the earnest money, the buyer would have to follow thru and not show up at closing. At that point, we would need to present our case on why we felt the earnest money should be turned over to us. The buyer would also have the opportunity to present their case on why they should be returned the earnest money. A decision would then need to be made on who would get the earnest money that was sitting in escrow. While we would have most likely be given the money, there was no specific timeline in which a decision would be made. We could secure another buyer for the house, but until the earnest money issue was resolved, we would not be able to close on the sell of our house.

The buyer had put us in a terrible position, and we wanted to do nothing more than let this play out and hopefully walk away with the earnest money. While the stress of this real estate deal was being blamed on us for our failure to bend to the buyer’s demands, it was the buyer who had created undue stress on everyone with demands that were putting them in them in the position of losing the house likely the earnest money.

However, this wasn’t just hubby and I dealing with the craziness. Our kid’s lives were also being impacted and we could not put them thru weeks or possibly months of living life in limbo. So we caved and gave into the buyer’s demands to get this deal closed and get moved out of Texas.

Some might ask why we wanted to fight over earnest money. Well . . . this buyer put almost 3% of the asking price of the house into earnest. Typically, it’s 1%. This amount of money made us believe that the buyer REALLY wanted to buy our house and wasn’t likely to walk away from that amount of money. Had we understood just how worthless that money is without the buyer’s signature releasing the money to us if they did not comply with the contract, we may have opted to go with one of the higher offers that didn’t offer all the other bells and whistles. But that’s what a buyer is supposed to do in these situations. They are supposed to try and make their offer the best one to win the bidding war. And there was no guarantee that another buyer wouldn’t have done something similar. We knew the appraisal would never come back as high as the buyer’s offer, but our realtor had seen the financials and knew they could pay the difference. We had no reason to believe they wouldn’t follow thru with the terms of the contract. By choosing them, or any potential buyer, we were taking a risk and that risk didn’t work out well for us in this situation.

With our agreement to come down to appraisal, the buyer signed the amendment, but this time our realtor added into the amendment that any earnest money would be immediately released to us should the buyer not close by March 31st.

The buyer signed the amendment and the escrow attorney confirmed that this signature would guarantee that the earnest money would come to us should the buyer try to back out again.

This time, there was no threat to walk away, but the buyer made a decision to change the terms of the loan and that change required a three day waiting period before closing. This put us in a very interesting position. Since the buyer signed the second amendment, we were now in a position of allowing the closing date to come and go then collect the earnest money and move on to a new buyer. The buyer asked that we please agree to the new closing date However, we were mow in the position of potentially losing money ourselves. We had movers arriving the next day. Could we even change the date of the mover’s arrival? Would it cost us more money to change our move date? We certainly weren’t going to have them pick up all our belongings until we closed on the house. After all, this buyer had proven over and over and over again that following thru with a contract didn’t matter. The last thing we wanted to do was still have a house that was now completely empty. Plus, we really wanted to get moved and follow thru with the purchase of our new home.

We also had reserved an Air BnB so we had a place to stay while we were waiting on our household goods to be delivered to the new house. We were well past the deadline to get a reimbursement for the Air BnB and this change was most definitely going to cost us money. Plus, we weren’t sure we could get the Air BnB for the new dates we would need.

After contacting the moving company and finding out that we could reschedule the move for the day after closing without further cost we had crossed one hurdle. We then found out that we could get some additional days at the Air BnB, but those days were going to costs us money in addition to the money we had already paid for days we wouldn’t be there. With both questions answered, we were in the position of being able to make a decision on whether or not we wanted to accept the new closing date or allow it to pass and then collect the 5-digit earnest money check and move on to a new buyer.

In the end, we decided to accept the new closing date. The cost of moving later was most definitely going to cost us more as we would be in prime moving season and by this point, we were almost done packing and ready for the movers. Also, we weren’t going to risk losing the house we were purchasing and quite frankly, we were more than ready to put this behind us and get moved. However, unless the buyer was willing to reimburse us for the money lost on the Air BnB, we would not agree to the new closing date. We also needed them to agree that they were done asking for changes and any other deviation from the amended contract would mean no closing and earnest money immediately given to us.

The buyer agreed to everything, the amendment signed and the new closing date was set.

Closing day arrived!!!! We had finally made it!!! But like everything else in this deal, we would discover that we would run into some problems.

The first was the buyer’s refusal to sign until their realtor arrived. An hour later no realtor. He wouldn’t respond to their calls or messages. Knowing they would lose their earnest money, they finally agreed to go ahead and sign.

Then our realtor asked the escrow officer to confirm that they had brought the certified check for the loss of money on the Air BnB. The escrow officer asked and then requested that our realtor come talk to them. She was told that their realtor had told them to go ahead and sign the amendment and he would take care of getting us the certified check. It was at this point our realtor discovered that their realtor had been offering them different things. He told them he would give them a percentage of his commission at closing. This wasn’t done so they were very upset to discover their loan amount would be several thousand higher as a result. And yes, I found out that this is perfectly legal in the State of Texas. They were not aware that the realtor was also the lender. Since they had been working with the underwriter of the loan, they had no idea their realtor was involved in the loan deal they had accepted. Again, this is perfectly legal in the State of Texas. They had trusted their realtor to take care of everything and in turn take care of them throughout this process only to discover that he wasn’t following thru with anything. Without the certified check they agreed to give us at closing, we would not be closing and they were now at risk of losing the house and earnest money.

Their realtor would not respond to phone calls. Finally, our realtor left a message and said, “If you do not show up here in the next hour with that certified check, my clients will walk away without closing and your clients will lose their earnest money.” A short time later the realtor called back and tried to make other arrangements to get us the money. He was told no. He requested hand delivering the check to our home. We said “NO.” He was again told that he needed to get the check to us at the title company immediately or else the deal was done. This meant he would not be getting paid either. About 45 minutes later he showed up with the certified check, which we immeiately cashed.

Through all of this, our realtor was absolutely wonderful to the buyers.

She apologized to the buyer’s for how they were treated by their realtor and told them that this day should have been such a joyous day for them. They were buying a beautiful home in a beautiful neighborhood. Instead, there were in tears over all the promises their realtor had made to them and didn’t honor. She took their contact information and told them she would be providing them with information that their realtor had not provided. I do know for a fact that our realtor actually followed thru with that promise.

The buyer’s signed all the paperwork and left. We were then ushered into the conference room to begin signing paperwork. Which was okay, because the upside of all of this was how wonderful the title company for the purchase of our new home had handled everything. Arrangements were made with the Texas title company to do a complimentary closing. This meant we would still close on time for the purchase of our new home. That would mean no delays for us, our Illinois realtor, our lender or anyone else involved in the purchase. Everyone was so gracious and understanding. It truly was the highlight of this entire process.

When we finally left the title company, we were done with the “Sell from Hell” and we were the new owners of a beautiful new house in Illinois.

The owner of the Air BnB was beyond awesome to work with. She was so very understanding, and I would highly recommend her as a host. The house was lovely (we had stayed there during an earlier visit) and comfortable. It couldn’t have worked out better for us.

The mover arrived on time. Unfortunately, there were only two of them unpacking the truck, which means it took a little longer and they had some challenges in moving something upstairs which left us with some minor repair work. Overall, it was a good experience.

We have now been in our new house for six weeks. I wish I could say that we’re completely settled in, but we’re not. I’ll share that in another post along with some photos at a later date. But we’re happy to be back in our home State of Illinois.

I don’t know that we will ever move again, especially after this experience.

I’m very happy to have it all behind us and anxious to settle even more into our lives back in the Midwest.

A big thank you to our two realtors.

Lori Jones, DFW Realtor.

We worked with Lori on the purchase and sell of two homes and she is absolutely the best in the business. I know that the sell of our house will forever go down as one of the most challenging for her and we couldn’t imagine going thru this with anyone else.

Illinois realtor, Julie Duncan.

She didn’t have to deal with the craziness like Lori did, but she was awesome thru all of it and gave us confidence that everything would work out on the purchase of our new home.

If this experience has taught us nothing else, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that having a highly reputable realtor working for you is vital.

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