In the summer and fall of 2010, my wife and I were in the process of purchasing a home in our area. After many months of searching, and looking at homes, we found only one home that seemed to meet our needs, budget, and desired location.
Anyone who has gone through the process of purchasing a home knows that it’s a lengthy process, and somewhat costly to pay for inspections and title research. There are also the time consuming details of making any kind of move.
In mid-October, about three days before closing, after we’d arranged for transfer of utilities, a moving company, and someone to sublease our apartment, we learned that the seller owed over $30,000 in taxes and $180,000 to a local bank. This hadn’t been disclosed at any time during the selling process. So, the seller was not actually in a position to sell the home, and the sale didn’t go through. We really felt deceived and mislead by the seller. It would be like buying a used car only to find out that the car was stolen. Despite all this, the home remained “for sale” with the realtor’s sign out front, and even after the closing fell through, a few days later, the realty office hosted open house.
What made our experience worse is that we were repeatedly promised by the seller’s realtor that remedy requests (repairs) had been made to the house to correct for defects revealed during the professional home inspection. Each time we went back to see if the defects had been repaired, many of them hadn’t been done.
So, it seemed that we’d been misinformed by both the seller as well as the seller’s realtor throughout the process. Even the seller’s lawyer seemed to be misrepresenting the facts. At one point, we were informed that the seller was completely without any assets and would not be able to sell the home. A month later, we were told that the seller had other properties and shifted his tax debt to those properties to free up the house he was trying to sell.
As a consumer advocate, in most cases, I’d pursue this and take action against these people and their violation of realtor ethics. However, in this situation, the parties involved were/are so skillfully deceptive that a successful action against them would cost considerable time and money. They are the kind of people who once action is taken against them, they would likely file some kind of counter-suit and cause me further loss of time and money.
The entire experience kind of turned us off to the traditional process of buying a home. We’re now back to our original plan — to buy land and build a small home.
For anyone considering the purchase of a home, our advice would be that you pay the fairly minimal cost for title research prior to spending time and money on anything else. It might save you a lot of time and expense later.
* * *
The author of this article, Gregory Johnson, is the Director of ResourcesForLife.com and a contributing writer for the site.