Real Estate Tricks And Scandals To Look Out For And To Entertain Your Family This Holiday Season

Dated: December 13 2018

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Three dozen sticks of dynamite is one way to solve the most vexing of real estate problems. Just make sure you set them off in the dead of night like this guy did so no one is around to see—or hear—what you have done.

Fear not, holiday-goers. If you have hours of small talk coming up in the near future and you need a way to distract everyone from talking about politics or asking you prying questions about your personal life, might I suggest a guaranteed way to fill the awkward silences: tell them tales of someone getting the bad end of the deal in real estate. Everyone likes a good scandal, but everyone loves it when it relates to real estate because it helps assuage their worries over whether or not they made the right moves when they bought their place. Plus, it almost always invites them to share anecdotes about their experiences so the conversation carries on even further. (What, your family doesn't discuss this topic whenever they get together? Welcome to my world...)

Let’s start with the dynamite. The situation here was a guy owned an acre of land that didn’t drain rainwater quickly enough and as a result he couldn’t get a building permit from the county. This was in an affluent suburb of D.C. where an acre of land can sell for close to a million dollars in a heartbeat. So he wasn’t going to give up easily. Instead he bought several dozen sticks of dynamite and, taking note of when there wasn’t going to be any rain in the forecast, stuffed them in the ground a few inches apart from each other and set off batches of them each night over the course of a week. Thereby blowing plenty of holes in the ground and loosening the soil significantly. Once he was done, he threw a ton of grass seed down, fertilized it well, and as soon as the grass had grown over the holes he had the soil tested once more. The soil drained magnificently and he was approved for a building permit rather quickly.

A little further underground is the story of some new homeowners who were a few weeks into living in their new house when they tried to turn on the shower while the washing machine was running. The shower, and the rest of the taps in the house, wouldn't release any water. But as soon as the washing machine cycle was finished everything went back to being okay. This kept happening each time they ran the washer. It took a lot of phone calls to get the seller to admit that when they had redone the front porch the water pipe from the street had gotten crimped and impacted the water pressure so much it wouldn't provide enough flow when the washing machine was running ("just do your laundry at night", the seller told the buyers). This didn't show up during the inspection because what home inspector would run the washing machine while checking the water pressure? Since the deal had closed and all money had exchanged hands the seller wouldn't offer any remuneration and the buyers had to shell out several thousand dollars to dig up the front yard and have the pipe replaced.

Then there’s the story of an enterprising new real estate agent who picked up a side job as a television cable sales guy. He would go door to door selling cable packages but during the course of the conversation try to ascertain how long the owners planned to stay in the house. Any indication they were planning on moving in the next few years—such as not wanting to sign up for a two-year discount package—and he would add them to his mailing list for postcards that advertised his real estate services. He made sure to make contact with everyone living in every house in his assigned area and over the course of a few years he got dozens of listings this way.

Or how about the tale of a homeowner who bought a new washer and dryer after a big renovation. His old appliances still worked fine so he put them on the curb with a sign that said FREE. After the third day of no one taking them he took away the FREE sign one evening and exchanged it with a sign that said FOR SALE. Both the washer and dryer were gone by the next morning.

Did you hear the one about two real estate agents in Miami who allegedly had someone alter the listings in the multiple listing service so that if another agent was trying to look up the listing to find out if it had expired they wouldn’t be able to find it. One of the most common ways they could ‘hide’ a listing was to spell the street name with spaces between each of the letters of the street name so that it wouldn’t show up in a keyword search. A few agents figured out what they were doing, but another agent took things one step further and tried to get them to pay him several hundred thousand dollars in exchange for dropping his formal complaint. That’s when the story gets interesting and he is the one that could be serving jail time. You can read the whole saga in this Vanity Fair article.

Source: Dobson, Amy, December 11, 2018. Real Estate Tricks and Scandals To Look Out For (And To Entertain Your Family This Holiday Season).

Katie Yancey, REALTOR | The Glover Team, Inc. | United Real Estate Premier

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Kelly Combs

My name is Kelly Combs and I am a native of Fredericksburg, Va., born and bred. I grew up in the 80’s when Fredericksburg was a small rural town, and I had the joy of evolving from a child to an adu....

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