Dear Cheeky Realtor,
K1 and my beloved SIL met you in the process of trying to buy their first house. Congratulations on being their first real estate agent!
Not being an interfering mother or mother-in-law (ahem), I've dutifully remained on the sidelines and refrained from becoming involved in the process (read this as quizzing K1 regularly over the phone and offering unsolicited advice) However, when I "happened" to be on the phone with K1 on Monday. She asked me a very interesting question.... you must have known she would...
"Hey Mom, how much did you and dad pay your Realtor"?
"How much did you pay to go look at houses"?
"What the hell are you talking about? You don't pay to go look at houses?" (please note my tone of voice which was indignant and verging on critical mass)
As it turns out, the kids paid you a $300 "enrollment" fee which you claimed you required in order to determine that they were serious about buying a house. And that they'd get it back somewhere in the closing process. Excuse me while the top of my head blows off and my brain starts tap dancing across my forehead.
I ended my tirade with "I'm done now" and K1 noted that I'd said that 3x and I was still ranting. I assured her that it was a shoddy business practice at best and that good Realtors know they'll be well paid when they complete a sale. The only reason he'd gotten money out of them was because they were first time buyers and they didn't know better. She looked him up and found that he specializes in first time buyer seminars and I'm guessing this is somewhat lucrative for him....
At any rate, the kids went first thing the next morning and got their money back and this is where the following email conversation occurred:
I've been working on locating properties while waiting to get the additional lender info I mentioned I would need. But this afternoon X at my office told me you came in this morning and got a refund of your money. That indicates there's a problem so of course I would like to know what the problem was/is. I'd appreciate knowing your thoughts from your perspective.
To which K1 replied,
We just felt uncomfortable with having to pay any amount of money when you told us your services were free. We understand the $300 did not go to you but it was an 'enrollment fee'. It was never fully explain what that was for and it just came down to Beloved Son in Law and I feeling uncomfortable.
Not to be outdone, Cheeky replied:
I appreciate your explanation but I must admit, it raised more questions than it answered.
Your explanation is that you made out a check to xxx Properties for $300.00 without knowing what it was for? Most people don't write out checks without understanding of what they are paying for. And you clearly understood that the money wasn't mine but was going to be credited to your purchase. Apparently the presentation I gave was sufficient explanation for you at the time. If you later had questions or needed clarification why didn't you contact me to discuss it further? Is there something more you haven't told me?
And this is where I note that indeed the reason the kids wrote that check was because you were the Realtor their lender referred them to. Your
sleazy slimy cheeky sales pitch led the kids to believe that paying you to look for houses was "how things were done". Your presentation was only sufficient at the time to cause them to write a check, it was not sufficient to keep them from questioning what you were up to. When they discovered that no one else on the planet had ever paid in advance to go see houses, they realized that your business practices were ... um... crooked sleazy questionable at best.
And really. you only have yourself to blame on this. Your last paragraph showed you for the passive aggressive toad that you are. Blaming the kids for writing you a check after you blinded them with your hair gel and gold chains...? Please. Accept that your former clients came to their senses and realized you were not representing what was best for them but what was best for you. Nothing that you were doing for the kids was in their best interest and that is where the deal fell apart.
And that is the reason I agreed to write this. I feel very strongly that when a client agrees to let you represent them, that is what you should do, represent THEM. People who bring self interest and "me first" into the deal are not truly representing their clients, they are working the clients to their own benefit. What you did was basically ask for an interest free loan that you would "pay back" when the kids closed the deal. I'm aware that you also used that tool to prevent the kids from looking at other options. They really felt like they had to down this path with you, and nothing could be further from the truth.
Interfering Mother (in law)
PS ~ I introduced them to my Realtor. I bet he doesn't try to wedge money out of them up front.