Overcoming a (potentially) huge problem with buyers
This story is fresh from this week - no need to search my mental Rolodex for lessons in this case.
So, we found the perfect home for my buyers. We did it quickly, and with no headaches. The buyers were motivated, highly qualified, and fun to work with. We saw the same home three different times over a two-day period. We met and chatted with the next-door neighbors for a solid hour.
We even went by the title company today and got the deed restrictions so that they would feel comfortable about things.
I took them to two of the best and not-overly-expensive restaurants in Georgetown - one of which is owned by a previous client who absolutely loves me. They paid for both of our meals.
Basically, you couldn't ask for a better outing with clients.
The home itself seemed pristine and perfect for their needs. They are retired, and it is in an age-restricted (50+) community. The backyard is open to the neighboring properties to allow for more interaction. It looks like a lovely park with towering live oak trees. I was frankly envious and wishing I was older. White stone, one-level, nicely upgraded, perfectly priced, only on the market for 12 days. You name it - this place had everything. As a bonus, it is very close to a 9-mile hike-and-bike trail, and my buyers wanted this amenity specifically (if possible).
So, what was the "potentially huge problem" referenced in my title above? What could possibly taint this oasis in a desert of mediocre inventory?
Well, I'll let you find out as I did, by following the conversation that I had with the listing agent (almost verbatim):
ME: Thanks so much for the information. They are certainly interested, and I'll let you know if we have any other questions.
L.A.: Jason, I want to make sure I tell you something, since we don't want them to hear it from the neighbors first.
ME (a little nervous now): Oh. What's that?
L.A.: I want them to know that there was a suicide on the property. The previous owner killed himself in the garage. I don't know the exact details, but I know that it happened in the garage.
ME: Okay. I will certainly discuss this with them. I don't think it will taint their enthusiasm, but who knows what the reaction will be?
After some lengthy discussions (and way more details than we really needed from the neighbors), along with the buyer wigging out a little bit, I am happy to say that they are proceeding and still excited about this home.
Frankly, I think a lesser agent could have messed this one up by taking the wrong tone with them, but we were very open about everything - how else can you really handle something this delicate?
I was pleasantly surprised that the listing agent told me at all, since it is not a requirement to disclose death by suicide in a property in Texas. Murders and deaths caused by the condition of the property are requirements. Suicides and deaths by natural causes can remain undisclosed. This ended up having a very positive effect on our impression of this agent, and I applaud her candor and honesty.
This is not the first time that I have dealt with a property with this potential stigma (we had a listing like this a few years ago), but it is the first time that I have had to overcome this particular objection, and I must say that I learned a new lesson today. I guess if this type of thing surfaces again, I hope to have a successful closing story to share!