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A doozy of an agent horror story

Posted by: Peter Coy on July 22, 2008

This appeared today as a comment on Anyone have an agent horror story like this one? but I’m highlighting it here because it’s so appalling.

I have a horror story for you - I am a first time homebuyer - young single woman. I just closed on a condo one week ago. I moved into my condo 48 hours after closing, and while actually driving to my new condo with the movers in tow, I get a phone call from my agent who says he has “bad news” - the owner of the condo directly below me called and said water was coming into his condo from above (my condo). Of course I freak out as I have not even moved in yet. We later find out that the entire a/c is “shot” and will need replacement. Keep in mind it is July and I live in New Orleans…so an a/c is a necessity. Of course my inspector did not pick up on this - and my a/c guy is quite astonished by that given the horrible condition and age of the a/c. Another really terrible thing is what my agent did to me (1) he did not tell me anything about a home warranty (2) he did not even suggest a final walk through of the property, even though the place had been vacant for months. Now not only am I going to have to come up with the money to replace the a/c, I am also liable for the damage to the condo below me - which began occurring before I even moved in the place. My closing attorney asked me why I did not do a final walk through, and my answer was that I trusted my agent to guide me and he did not ever advise me to do this. Had we done a final walk through, perhaps we would have picked up on the water that was flooding the unit below me. I really feel like this was the agent’s duty to inform me of these things, and he failed 100%. As a 1st time homebuyer I am not familiar with all of this, which he plainly knew, yet he still was negligent with me. If I had known about a home warranty, perhaps I could have gotten some relief there as well. Of course I also have beef with my inspector for not picking up on this - and I am confronting him as well. In the end who knows how much this will cost me and drive me into debt. I contacted the agent yesterday to give him all this news and the best he could do was say he was sorry and felt “really bad”. He tried to put blame on everyone but him - he said he thought about doing a final walk through, but the seller’s agent was out of town and would not return his calls. He also said he “thought” he told me about a home warranty, which he most certainly did not. I am a young attorney and I know what can happen - I most certainly would have opted to purchase one. Bottom line is he made some serious money off of me for not doing his job.

Reader Comments

3rd Generation

July 22, 2008 3:21 PM

Do not publish any other details in the public domain. Hire a qualified real estate attorney on contingent basis if possible. DO IT TODAY.

Keep close track of the costs you incur as a result of their negligence. Get receipts. Document everything.

Go after everyoine involved.

Broker, Realtor (used-house salesperson) loan agent, title company, inspector, neighbor below, EVERYONE. Make ONE and one only good-faith offer to the guilty (I mean accused)to come clean and pay for damages and new A/C to your satisfaction and you won't sue for additional damages. Listen to none of their BS stories and remember they had a fiduciary duty to YOU to correct the deficiencies and if not resolved in a reasonable time start filing claims with errors and omissions insurance carriers and then go after the guilty personally with lawsuits. Get judgements, attach their assets.

Make this your life mission. Bury the used-house seller/broker with costs, fees and aggravation. Petition the courts to revoke their real estate sales license.

DO NOT play fair. They haven't.

Veni, Vini, Vinci!

Jim D

July 23, 2008 3:40 AM

So, when the time came to inspect the house, you weren't, you know, there, were you? The inspector was there by themselves? In what universe is it ever a good idea to have a contractor on your property and you just "trust" them to do a good job?

Final walkthrough? Home warranty? You blew a quarter million dollars (or more) and you couldn't be bothered to read a book on how to buy a house?

I'm trying to summon up at least a little sympathy, but it's quite difficult. While you certainly should sue, you need to accept that a great deal of the fault (though not the guilt) lies with you.

And if you sue the neighbor below, you're scum.


July 23, 2008 1:30 PM

First of all, I would NEVER sue the neighbor below - in fact I am trying to get in touch with them now to repay them for their damages. I never indicated that I would take any action whatsoever against the neighbor. Further, I WAS present at the inspection, but I am a young woman and frankly, I know nothing about a/c units. I just trusted what the inspector told me. He did note that the drip pan was old and rusty, but that's about it. I have a very demanding job and I retained a buyer's agent so I would not have to spend the time and I just trusted that he was more knowledgeable than me and that he would act at all times in my best interest and keep me fully informed. Well, I know now that was a terrible mistake and I will not make that same mistake again. I realize I am partially at fault, but I will not take full responsibility for this. What is the point of retaining an agent if they will not protect you???


July 23, 2008 1:47 PM

Also - I am an attorney. When my clients retain me to provide legal services, I know that they are not out there doing legal research to make sure I'm doing my job. Nor should they be expected to know the intricacies of the law - that is my job, not theirs. I have a duty to provide competant legal services and my clients entrust me to perfom this function. Same goes for a real estate agent - they have a duty to provide competant representation and I entrused my agent to do this.


July 23, 2008 3:24 PM

Hi, Katherine,

I am sorry for what you have experienced. My friend just bought a condo, and the inspector failed to identify a bad process under the sink. My friend has to pay 800$ from his pocket. My friend and you both paid an inspector, but none of them did a good job. What shall we do if the inspector failed to do his part correctly? Sue them? Is there a website for reviewing all the agent or inspector, etc?
I am wondering whether you can tell us what it turn out. You have share us an good warning story, and if you can share us with a solution, it will be great!




July 24, 2008 11:40 AM

Here's one problem: most Buyer's agents get paid only if there is a sale. Your agent primarily has his/her interests first not yours. You would have been better off hiring an advocate for your interests (appraiser, consultant, attorney, inspector). By the way a home inspector should represent your interests not the seller's.


July 25, 2008 3:08 PM

Hello-- I am a real estate agent in Madison, Wisconsin and know first hand that the "bad apples" (this includes the bad apples in inspectors, bankers, attorneys, appraisers) give all the good apples a bad reputation. Everyday the first hurdle I must jump over is the perception the seller/buyer already have about realtors/brokers! However there are good, hardworking, knowledgable, informative agents all over the country! In Wisconsin all inspectors must be licensed and attend continuing education classes. For next time, not only you should be at the closing, but also YOUR AGENT! I am at all inspections even if my client is not there. My job is to represent the client! And, because of many years of experience I will most likely catch something that the buyer would not consider a problem. Also, inspectors take more time and do a more thorough job if the agent is there because they know this is where their referrals come from! The warranty...I have my SELLERS put it on the home when I list it! Most warranties also cover the seller if something goes wrong within the listing period. Everyone wins! If I am representing a buyer and the home does not include a warranty, I have my own addendum for all offers which includes the warranty. Next time, find an agent that has been in the business for at least 12 years and make sure he/she does not have a ton of listings to take care of (your agent most likely list and sells) so they have time to do their job for you. Or, email me and I'll give you a reference :) Also, check with all your friends and get their realtor stories. Referrals are the best way to choose - they've already proven themselves! The main thing is.. DO NOT allow the buying experience interfere with the pleasure of owning your home! Enjoy the warm feelings every time you walk through YOUR door!

July 27, 2008 3:44 AM

So sorry to read this, please know we are not all bad. Did you sign anything that says you waive your right to an inspection? ALWAYS get an inspection, even if its a new home


July 29, 2008 8:48 AM

Two words: due diligence.

I am looking forward to the day when people wise up and start sueing their real estate agents for leading them astray. Yes you trusted him, but obviously he did not have your best interests at heart. Get a lawyer.

Mike R.

July 30, 2008 1:37 PM

"What is the point of retaining an agent if they will not protect you???"

Katherine, Katherine, Katherine. I think you've got a definitive answer to that question now, haven't you? The concept of a fiduciary duty that you hold as an attorney is utter nonsense to a real estate agent. The average real estate agent's concept of "fiduciary duty" means stopping short of embezzlement.

As you are an attorney, spend a few hours brushing up on the real estate law of your state, especially with regards to disclosure requirements. Once you've got the facts and the law straight, spend a little time picking the brain of a real estate lawyer, maybe a friend, someone in your firm or someone from your local bar association. THEN COME DOWN ON EVERYONE LIKE A TON OF BRICKS. Your attitude should be, to paraphrase, "Sue them all and let the jury sort out the innocent." Most likely, by putting on your A**h**e attorney hat, you will terrify the broker, inspector and seller into a relatively quick and reasonable settlement. It's a shame it has to come to this kind of thing but there it is.

John T

February 4, 2010 10:53 AM

Being this is a condo, I am sure there is an HOA Property & Liability policy, as well I assume you purchased insurance prior to moving in???? RIGHT!!!

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BusinessWeek editors Chris Palmeri, Prashant Gopal and Peter Coy chronicle the highs and lows of the housing and mortgage markets on their Hot Property blog. In print and online, the Hot Property team first wrote about the potential downside of lenders pushing riskier, "option ARM" mortgages and the rise in mortgage fraud back in 2005—well ahead of many other media outlets. In 2008, Hot Property bloggers finished #1 in a ranking of the world's top 100 "most powerful property people" by the British real estate website Global edge. Hot Property was named among the 25 most influential real estate blogs of 2007 by Inman News.

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