Home Buyer Takes Consumerist Hive Mind Advice, Emerges Victorious

Remember Frank? He asked Consumerist readers for advice about his short-sale purchase of a house gone terribly, terribly wrong. He’s back, with an update! As you may recall, the hive mind advised him to walk away from the deal. Better yet, run away. Or drive away in a supercharged muscle car. Frank writes that he took this advice to heart, and emerged victorious. But not in the way you might expect.

Thanks to the Consumerist community, I was motivated to walk away from the house after more than 8 months of waiting. So I contacted my realtor and immediately began looking at other homes and condos. In the mean time, however, I let the Realtors keep trying to settle the original house, but I gave them a deadline of July 23rd (which was when one of the contracts would have been up for renewal anyway), or I was walking away.

I got the seller to grant me and my realtor permission to access the sale information from Bank of America, and we were on the phone with their executive customer service on a daily basis, making sure there was progress and that they had all the documentation they needed. I also put my foot down with the seller’s Realtors about the vandalism and deterioration, and demanded that they return the house to the condition it was when I signed in November. They protested for a while, but eventually agreed. They patched up all the leaks in the pipes and repaired the water damage. I supervised the work myself, but they paid for it all.

And, amazingly, on July 20 we got final approval from Bank of America for the sale. I closed yesterday, and now I am the owner of a new house that has some brand new realtor-paid repairs. So thanks, Consumerist, for reminding me that the buyer has a lot more power in these situations that I realized!

And just to clarify, since it came up in some of the comments: yes, I was getting a really, really good deal on the house — much better of a deal than I could have gotten on the regular market. Basically, I bought the house for about $90,000 less than it should have cost, which is the only way I would have been able to afford it.

But lesson learned: when something seems too good to be true, it probably is. My short sale dream turned into an unexpected nightmare because I believed the Realtors when they told me everything was going OK. But they never gave me any proof, and when things fell apart, I wasn’t in control and I couldn’t get things moving again. Once I took charge, though, things were resolved pretty quickly. Next time, I’ll be in control from the beginning.

Learn from Frank’s experience: remember how much power you have. And don’t necessarily believe everything a realtor says without proof.

PREVIOUSLY: Realtor’s Incompetence Means I Can’t Move Into My Vandalized, Deteriorating Short-Sale House