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Buying

Realtors Reveal: 5 Home Buyers From Hell -- and How You Can Avoid Being One

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As most people beyond kindergarten age come to realize, you can learn just as much from seriously bad behavior as you can from good. What better way to familiarize yourself with the fine points of not being a complete jerk than to see one in action?

So we started wondering if that same kind of learning-from-the-worst process could apply to home buyers. Here are some of the more frustrating, unusual, or downright unpleasant buyer situations Realtors have had to deal with, and what we can glean from these tales of woe.

1. The confrontational buyer

Mark Ferguson, a Realtor and property investor in Greeley, CO, had a client who nearly walked out on closing day when the seller didn't show up at the table. Even though they weren't supposed to be there in the first place.

"The buyer wanted to tell the seller and their agent how horrible the process had been," Ferguson explains.

Except they were buying a real estate owned (REO) property, and the seller was actually a bank.

"There were some really minor repairs, and the buyer was getting an awesome deal," he says. "They knew going into it that the seller was a bank and probably wouldn't fix anything."

Fortunately, the sale went through, although it took a substantial amount of persuasion on the agent's part. Long, unnecessary persuasion.

How to get to home buyer heaven: If you're buying a REO, you should probably do a bit of research.

"When the seller is a bank, they would never come to closing," Ferguson says."It is also very typical that REO agents don't go to closing, either." So do your research and set your expectations accordingly. And if you still need to vent? Do it after the docs are signed!

2. The Jekyll and Hyde buyer

Kellie Tinnin, an associate broker in Albuquerque, NM, once dealt with a buyer who was perfectly nice in person, but transformed into a snarling bully over text or email. And then he started hurling bizarre and paranoid accusations. In one instance, the buyer accused the home inspector of "being in cahoots" with Tinnin and biasing the report -- except that the buyer was the one who had chosen the inspector in the first place.

The buyer also gave out different information to everyone involved in the purchase. It led Tinnin to BCC her lead broker on all email communications with Dr. Jekyll.

"I wanted a back-up in case he tried to sue," she explains.

Other instances of his erratic behavior included writing letters to the listing agent threatening to cancel the deal. Smooth!

How to get to home buyer heaven: Bullies never win. Well, at least generally not in real estate deals. Tinnin told us that while the buyer managed to close, the closing date was long delayed due to his antics.

"I wish he knew that he did not have to act like a fool to get what he wanted," Tinnin says. "It all became so comical it was hard to take him seriously."

3. The last-minute haggling buyer

Rebecca Knaster recently closed on an apartment in New York City where, on the final walkthrough, the buyers started picking apart the place. This, of course, was after seeing the place over and over. When they got to a bathroom sink, they decided they didn't care for, things escalated.

"At closing, the buyer was demanding a $10,000 credit because the original sink in the unrenovated second bathroom was, in their opinion, not perfectly secured," Knaster recalls.

Of course, they didn't get that kind of discount -- they settled on a much more reasonable $500. And a lot of ill will.

How to get to home buyer heaven: "Closing is not the time to speak up on problems with a property," Knaster advises. The buyer and their agent should have talked to her to find a solution on an earlier occasion, she says.

4. The bait-and-switch buyer

While representing a seller, Tinnin encountered another irrational buyer -- a guy who asked for some electrical work to be done in the utility room and offered to pay for the costs. The seller agreed. But as closing day approached, the buyer became increasingly unreasonable. Was he trying to get out of his promise to pick up the repair costs? "He became combative and would call me in a rage, accusing me of being unethical and lying," Tinnin says.

When closing day came, the buyer didn't show up "because he was 'too tired,'" and closing had to be rescheduled.

When he finally showed up for the second closing day, he announced -- big surprise! -- that he'd decided he didn't want to pay for that electrical work after all. He refused to sign the agreed-upon documents reimbursing the seller and even tried to back out of the whole deal, according to Tinnin.

The seller ended up paying for the electrical work -- which only cost "a few hundred dollars" Tinnin says -- in order to close the deal.

How to get to home buyer heaven: The bottom line? Don't be a mook. It was another case of "people feeling like they need to be a bully to get what they want," Tinnin says. But after all the buyer's antics, "they're lucky my seller did not go and rip everything out of the house," Tinnin recalls.

5. The shirtless buyer

Buying a home can be an emotional process. But one buyer was more than a little emotional, according to Chandler Crouch of Chandler Crouch Realtors in Fort Worth, TX.

"All sorts of really wacky things happened during the course of the transaction, but it all came to a head at closing," Crouch says.

First, the buyer showed up with his shirt off and draped over his shoulder. Which is odd enough, "but then he became very confused, and began crying at the closing table," Crouch recalls.

Eventually, all the papers were signed. But since the bizarre fiasco took so long, there wasn't enough time for the transaction to go through that day.

And that's when the buyer had a last-minute case of buyer's remorse (or possibly just buyer's confusion).

"Sometime after we all went home but before funding actually took place, he freaked out and called the title company and convinced them to terminate the transaction. It's the only transaction I've had that actually fell apart after closing," Crouch says. "It was a wild day."

How to get to home buyer heaven: If you're getting overwhelmed, ask your realtor for some advice. "It's a good idea to discuss what's going to happen at closing in advance," Crouch says. Another thing: Know beforehand how much you'll be expected to shell out at closing -- this isn't the time for buyer's remorse. Or psychotic episodes.

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