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Brady Bunch, or Insane Drug Dealers?

In the spring of 2005, I listed a beautiful seven bedroom home in the hills of prestigious west Austin.  The sellers were going through a VERY amiable divorce, but they wanted to move forward and get it sold.  The husband had called me from my website, and my business partner and I landed the listing because we were very honest (blunt?) with them about the pricing and also about the fact that they really didn't have substantial enough upgrades to justify the $1.1 million price tag that they were hoping for.  We listed at $950,000 originally, then reduced it to $850,000 later.  Shortly thereafter, we got a contract in place.  The buyers had seven children, and it was supposed to be a quick cash purchase.  They were actually living at the Lakeway Inn on Lake Travis, and they were paying huge dollars for this (two rooms).  The buyer's agent said that they had been there for quite awhile, and they were anxious to move quickly so they could get the kids registered for school.

They asked if they could move in a little before the closing, and this was where things took a turn for the worse

I wrote a previous blog about this on my third "real" day at Active Rain.  Please read this previous post before continuing here so that you will understand what happened:

The longest time I ever had a home marked "pending"

 At any rate, I was wondering how much background checking is too much in a situation like this.  I met the buyers multiple times, and they always seemed very nice and reasonably normal.  Maybe a little too tan, maybe a little too "showy", but calm and pleasant.  They would repeatedly explain about their funds being held up by the government because of the Patriot Act (?).  In retrospect, it seems ridiculous, but at the time it felt possible, maybe from simple wishful thinking.

After telling the tenant story about 386 times to various clients, friends, other agents, title company reps, janitors, librarians, and customer service representatives, the inevitable first reaction is, "Were they dealing drugs?"  Honestly, that never really crossed my mind when we were going through the process, but why were they able to pay $9,000/month to live there, yet they never bothered to get a loan?  Later, when I saw the colors that they used to repaint the bedrooms, it seemed to lend more credence to this possibility.  I kid you not - they painted the secondary bedrooms bright blue, hot pink, purple, black, and orange!  They also brought in a couple of dogs.  Obviously, neither of these things were approved by the owner.

So, is it a good idea to run a full background check on "cash" buyers when they want to move in early?  Perhaps it is a good idea regardless of the desired move-in date?

If you read this other post of mine, you might want to run a background check on anyone you come across:

How it Feels to Lose a $213,000 Commission

Perhaps I am too trusting, or maybe I just assume that people will conduct themselves with some modicum of integrity, but I usually expect clients to do what they say.  Is that naive?  Maybe so, but I also think that it is this "naiveté" that has allowed me to stick it out through some tough times in the early years of my real estate career.  Stay positive! 



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