Some of you guys seemed interested in this story as it was unfolding so I thought I’d come back and give you an update. I was really vague in the first post so I’ll just retell the story now with more details, no need to go back to my original post.
Last summer was our first time selling a house. We work full time with a baby and decided it would be easier to move out of the house before listing it and move into an apartment. Our buyers first saw the house the 2nd day it was listed. I saw them on my Ring camera. They loved the house. Their relative was my neighbor. They put in a series of offers that we kept rejecting. They were contingent buyers and their house wasn’t even listed. They wanted a bunch of our stuff. We had an open house and everyone who came to it were also contingent buyers who didn’t have their own houses listed. These buyers were the only ones putting in offers. We eventually agreed to something like they had two weeks to sell their house or we would take back up offers and if we got another offer they’d have three days to.. and no they couldn’t have our stuff weirdos.
They listed their house and it actually sold pretty fast! They had some drama with their buyers. We were flexible with dates as we didn’t live in our house but time constraints led to them needing to be out of their house a few days before the closing of my house. I know this is where we made a mistake. No need to rub it in. They asked if they could move their possessions into our garage with their agent supervising the whole thing. My husband and I were under the impression that these buyers were going to be petty and annoying based on the series of offers we had previously rejected. Their agent had done a walkthrough of our house and declared all the rooms scuffed and worn down? House was only a couple years old, 4 bedroom house with 2 people living in it. We barely entered half the rooms. We saw this question as an opportunity. We told them that they could do this under the conditions of: we’re not responsible for their possessions and can’t be blamed for anything that happens to them and they can’t ask us to fix anything even if things came up in the inspection. They agreed. Nothing came up in the inspection. The inspection report was awesome. One of our roof tiles was cracked and a light fixture was oh so slightly crooked.
When we had moved out to list the house, we had left some furniture to stage the property. We had movers come by to retrieve the rest of the furniture and they accidentally made a hole in the wall. My realtor’s husband is a handyman and we hired him to fix it before close.
My realtor texted my husband and I at working asking for the code to our front door as she thought the buyers had our house keys. I was horrified that they had our keys as that is not what we agreed to! I joked to make sure they weren’t living there. My realtor and her husband entered my house and the buyers were completely moved in! It was just the wife and her two elementary school aged children. My realtor told them to get the f*** out and the wife asked my realtor to please not be mad at her. My realtor’s husband encouraged my realtor to calm down. My realtor was pissed. Buyer wife called their relative who lives nearby and he helped them pack and leave. I knew there was a drawer where we had kept our spare keys and garage door openers. My realtor confirmed that drawer was empty. The wife claimed that her husband had the house key. The husband gave the key to his agent that night and the agent delivered it to my realtor along with trying to give her $100 that she didn’t take.
This all went down on like a Friday and closing was postponed until Monday. I texted my next door neighbor asking him to please monitor the house for me. He told me that they had professional carpet cleaners come by that past Tuesday and then had full on moved in on Wednesday. On Thursday they had actually asked us if they could move in early. They told us a story that the mother in law (multi generational family – grandma, grandpa, husband, wife, 2 kids total in their unit) had fell and hurt herself because they were staying with their relative and there were too many people in the house. We responded that we hoped she was OK but we did not want to be landlords and they could get a hotel. They had already been living in the house. Their agent had conveyed that they were very sorry for moving in early without permission and they tried to blame it on their loan company for delaying closing.
I spent the weekend stressed out about liability. They had stacked multiple rugs on our staircase for some weird reason? My realtor said that her husband almost fell walking up the stairs with all those rugs. I saw grandma and grandpa on my security cameras (that were removed the weekend before this shitshow) and they seemed not in the best physical shape. Their bedrooms were upstairs. My realtor had taken pictures. I was afraid that someone would get hurt in the house and sue us. Or that the house wouldn’t close and we would have to evict squatters that could damage the house. I knew they stole the spare keys and probably would come back. I felt extremely angry and violated. We saved up for that house. We picked it out when it was a pile of dirt, customized it, upgraded it, maintained it.. and it felt like it was literally being stolen from us. Their agent gave them the key. I figured out from some Facebook sleuthing that their agent is their relative.
Monday was closing day. We went by the house to pick up a couple things we had left behind. My realtor noted that there were things in different places and evidence they had come back over the weekend. I thought it was wild that they did what they did. They signed a document that we weren’t responsible for what happened to their stuff and we had access to all their stuff and were angry. We didn’t touch anything. Even though I was enraged I would not do that to another family. It just struck me how they put themselves in a risky position as well.
We pretended like nothing was wrong at the closing table. My realtor mentioned something about potentially trying to get their agent’s commission withheld but we figured we could raise hell after close and try to do something about it later, it wasn’t worth it to hold up close. We were exposed to too much risk with the buyers squatting in our house.
After close we escalated the situation to brokers. My realtor’s broker talked to their agent’s broker who said they would “talk to” the agent. Whatever that means. Their broker took no responsibility. If I’m remembering right, they threw the buyers under the bus and acted like it was totally fine that their agent gave them the house key. My realtor suggested we report the agent to some realtor societies and we probably should have. Working full time with a baby who doesn’t sleep is rough. I’m at the point where I feel ahead if I fold my clean laundry. So we never did that. My husband is a lawyer. He did some research on legal avenues we could go down.
We made a lot of money on the sale of that house. Even factoring in closing costs and everything we spent on upgrading the house, we made a profit. That isn’t even factoring having a place to live for 3 years. We got paid to live in that house vs. paying rent. I calculated that the buyers stole about $70 in utilities plus rent. We could still take action against the buyers but for right now it is wild story.
Don’t let buyers put their stuff in a house that isn’t theirs yet. Don’t let them move in early. Don’t leave spare keys in a vacant house. Don’t take down your security cameras and internet at the house until closing day. Learn from us! I hope you are entertained by my wild real estate story.