Realtors are supposed to help people find the home of their dreams, but unfortunately, it can be the stuff of nightmares.
People on Quora share the shadiest thing a realtor tried to do. Content has been edited for clarity.
This Guy Did Not Know What He Was Doing
“I was buying a home for myself, so I acted as my own realtor.
I wanted to be in an exclusive neighborhood close to an airport, but with no airport air traffic as I like to travel and wanted the airport within a few miles of my home, but didn’t want air traffic noise, congestion.
So I found the perfect neighborhood with all my ‘wants.’ I located a four-bedroom, four and 1/2 bath plus fully finished basement as well as a large in-ground pool and entertaining area outdoors.
The house was also on a dead-end street, and the back end of the property bordered a protected area so no one could build, develop there. Great piece of property for the asking price of 702K. I toured the house and found an odd smell, but thought it could be the pool and thought nothing of it except the inspection would uncover whatever it was.
I put a very low bid in with the contingency the house had to pass inspection and I had to be able to get a mortgage on the property. My low bid was accepted and I hired my brother-in-law who is a builder and certified inspector for properties in the state where the house was located. I asked him to inspect, provide a report and advise on purchasing the property. He ordered an independent mold/mildew air quality tester to provide this part of the report to him.
The house air quality report came back so bad, we advised the homeowner to move out immediately.
The current homeowner indicated he was staying with a friend and his wife and two children were living out of state while the house went up for sale.
His wife and two children had become deathly ill from something, and they still didn’t know what it was.
Seems the husband was doing his own HVAC maintenance without knowing what he was doing and had adjusted the air conditioning temp so mold and mildew were growing for several years inside the house. He had turned off the dehumidifier as well.
I withdrew my bid and advised the owner to confer with a lawyer before he attempted to sell the house and to make sure he disclosed the mold/mildew issue to potential buyers. He was under state law to do this now that he knew what the problem was.
A year later, I found another great house in this neighborhood and purchased it. The mold/mildewed house was bought by someone else, but they were not notified of the mold/mildew concern.
I ran into the couple at a neighborhood picnic and told them about the mold/mildew report, and later gave them a copy of it. They ended up suing the realtor and seller and moved to another house in the neighborhood while this mold/mildew house was again up for sale.
The house was finally gutted and rebuilt at substantial cost to the original owner, as his insurance company went after him and the realtor for fraud. The realtor lost their license and the homeowner is now bankrupt with nothing.”
That’s A Secret That Should Be Shared
“I was young and had wanted to break into the real estate industry since I was a baby. My dad had been an agent and my grandpa had been a house flipper. My grandpa had taught my dad everything about houses and how to fix them and flip them. Dad only had me, a girl.
Dad was undeterred and taught me everything grandpa had taught him and even brought me on showings. I had also studied woodworking, metalworking, business administration, accounting, real estate, drafting and various other housing-related things while still in school. I was ready for my career in real estate.
However, I made one heck of a bad move right out of the gate. I signed on with a broker whom I didn’t know was shady. He seemed OK to me and he was Italian like me, but I was naive and blinded by my dreams of working in the housing industry. Soon it was obvious something was wrong. My broker refused to allow me to work the front desk, where agents were able to take walk-in clients. He also refused other avenues that would help grow my career. I was completely frustrated, to say the least. I was basically getting nowhere fast. It was as if he was deliberately trying to stop me from growing in the business.
What my broker didn’t count on was I was persistent. So I finally, through my own avenues, got a potential buyer and two potential sellers. I was figuring out my career path, no, thanks to my lousy broker. My broker was extremely upset I was getting anywhere, and I quite frankly couldn’t understand why he wanted to destroy me so bad when he hardly knew me. What kind of threat could I possibly be to him!?
So I was getting ready to show my buyer a house and am getting the listing sheets together. Suddenly my broker said, ‘Oh, that house you’re showing, you need to know the boiler is about to blow.’
I thanked him for giving me the heads-up, but was stunned when he added, ‘It is our secret! The seller and I know and the agents in the office know, but no potential buyer is to know about this at all!!’
Angry, I responded, ‘Isn’t that illegal and immoral?’
His response, ‘They will never know until after it is sold, then the buyers can replace it at their own cost!’
I was beyond livid at that point! I outright refused to lie to my buyer and was asked to part ways with the company as a result of my ‘insubordination’ to my broker. I was more than happy to do so, even though it meant giving up my lifelong dreams. I was raised to be honest and forthright. I simply couldn’t bring myself down to that level, no matter how much my dreams meant to me.
As I left, the broker said, ‘By the way, I took you on because of your last name and then realized you couldn’t provide ‘favors’ for me afterward. So basically it was a mistake having you here at all.’
I got what he meant, my uncle was a famous mobster. He thought I could get him some mob ties!
I looked him square in the eyes and said, ‘What are you, stupid? My uncle has been dead since before I was born! How the heck did you think I was going to pull any favors for you?’
I stormed out. A few years later, his business went belly up. I cannot decide if it was due to his shady dealings with his sellers, or if he was simply a victim of the real estate market crash. I’m guessing it was his shady dealings, to be honest.”
She Was Trying To Ignore The Problem
“We’ve had a couple of shady times.
The first we were buying a 20 acres parcel with a 600 square-foot house and 9,000 square-foot barn (in Bay Area, California, 18 years ago, was almost $1m). We figured we could live in the 600 square-foot house forever because we wouldn’t have had the money for anything else – move into the barn if things got cramped. It even came with plans the owner who was an architect drew up to expand the current little house! Dreams of orchards, gardens, and enjoying the landfilling of our imaginations!
We were in contract and went down to the county for due diligence (buyers should always do this). Pulled a permit history report. Seemed every person who had owned the property for the previous 20 years (five people) had tried to either enlarge the house or build something new and nothing ever happened – but not a lot of clues as to why just a couple of random notes about geology and soils.
So, we had a geologist out, he got out of the car and said, ‘It smells like a landslide.’
Now, I don’t know if they can really smell these things, but investigations showed there was an active landslide six inches from the house, and the bulk of the usable land seemed to also have slope stability issues. That big barn also had a landslide below it and the ground was slipping away from that!
So we backed out of the contract (still in contingency period). I went to return the plans to the agent and she was fired up mad at us for backing out.
I was like, ‘Well, there is an active landslide on the property six inches from the house.;
She literally put her hands over her ears and said, ‘I don’t want to hear anything.’
I was in shock, and stumbled through trying to explain. The whole time, she had her hands over her ears, actually going, ‘La la la la la.’
Worried about the next person who might buy it unaware, I sent an email follow-up figuring if it was in writing they would have to disclose. The realtor did not disclose it, just ‘strongly encouraged buyers to do their own investigations at the county.’ The agent knew, and I have no doubt the owner/architect knew as well.
A family bought it a few weeks later (it was a hot property), and later learned it came as a surprise. They had more money than we did, so did a lot of expensive retaining walls and earthwork to remedy and eventually built a huge house super close to the road (only buildable place on 20 acres). Even with 18 years of California appreciation, I doubt the home is worth more than they spent.
Lesson learned (over and over and over because we have a few examples of this) – don’t trust agents and sellers to disclose everything to you. While I find most realtors extremely ethical, there are bad apples and they seem to attract bad sellers.
Do your due diligence, go down to your county/city, do all your investigations, hire the experts you need to hire. Better to lose a couple thousand $ to investigate than hundreds of thousands of $ by buying.”
Things Were Not Fine
“My wife was the buyer’s realtor, and she arranged for us to buy a house in conjunction with, obviously, a seller’s agent. Great. We loved it. We bought it. All was well. We held the walk-through inspection the morning of closing. All was good – check, check, check!
Until we arrived at the house after closing (with a break of a few hours) and determined the seller had kept a copy of the keys because all of the light bulbs and toilet paper, used that very morning, were gone
The fireplace log was gone. The plants on the patio, that did indeed convey with the house, were gone.
The DR/Breakfast nook chandeliers were replaced with cheap plastic nonsense.
The alarm system panels were gone.
The stereo system receiver, which we bought separately but conveyed with the house, was gone.
A much longer list.
We had, of course, already closed. We, the regal We, this time, did indeed telephone the police who advised us title did NOT transfer until the end of the business day. Well…it already was.
Interestingly, the former owner telephoned us a few days later to ask ‘how things were going.’
Our answer was strangled, to say the least.”
But It Was Only For Three Days
“I bought a house, it closed on a Monday. We gave owners two days of free rent to move their stuff. They had their crew of high schoolers ready, but couldn’t move till Saturday to Sunday, so they would have to pay rent Thursday through Sunday.
They called their buddy who happens to be a contractor to register a mechanics’ LIEN on the property the day before, so the closing would be delayed until the escrow company could clear the lien.
So basically, they did a $25 filing of a document, plus the time to go to the courthouse, and wasted half a day (How much is a contractor’s time worth?)
When my realtor got wind of this horse nonsense, she told the other realtor, ‘You do that, and I’ll sue your butt all the way to the moon and back, and I’ll own your car company!’
They had to pay rent for three days, almost killed them! TOO bad, it didn’t!
He Just Did Not Care
“The house was a modest mid-century modern home in our desired neighborhood with an affordable price. It had just gone on the market and the seller was to review offers in three days by five pm. My husband and I were so excited because this house was the manageable size and architectural style we hoped to find. Since we hadn’t yet relocated to the new state, we put in an offer with our realtor sight unseen, but after my realtor and friend FaceTimed a tour with me in that house. There were going to be some repairs needed, but nothing seemed major. We put in an offer for $25,000 over asking just to ensure our getting the house of our dreams.
Finally, we heard we didn’t get the house. My husband and I were really disappointed, but we assumed the sold price was higher than what we would’ve felt comfortable offering. But then we found out the accepted price was the asking price. Why, we wondered. We found out that the seller’s realtor never presented our offer (as well as a third offer also higher than the asking price) to the seller. This was to be the realtor’s final house sale, as he was retiring from the business and just wanted the sale to proceed as quickly as possible. Our own realtor shared this with us as soon as she had heard, as we were in 1st position if the original buyer walked away after inspections. We heard the seller was very upset to know that our backup offer was higher than what she accepted, only because she was unaware of our offer. However, her accepted offer was under contract. The whole thing stunk and we were all sore for days (except the accepted buyers!).”
They Tried To Bully Her
“My girlfriend was looking for a new home. She was selling her current home with only one stipulation, no sale would be finalized for her home until she had agreed to close on a new one. This stipulation was included in her listing contract. Her home was under contract within a week, by the middle of June 2021.
Fast-forward to August. Still, no acceptable home had surfaced in this crazy real estate market we are in nationwide. It had been about 50 days since her home went under contract. She found a home she liked and we started looking at it. Not too bad, seemed to have a few minor issues. She agrees to consider it, pending inspection.
The home comes back with a laundry list of minor to moderate issues, mostly the result of neglect by the previous owners. Nothing we couldn’t take care of, but it’s the three BIG issues that made her nix the deal:
Septic issues, which would total in the thousands.
The roof had some considerable water damage at the site of an addition.
AND, Poly B plumbing. The entire home needed to be replumbed. This type of plumbing is prone to spontaneously burst and hadn’t been used since the early ’90s.
She got a call from her realtor, they offered $1500 allowance for the repairs. This was coming from the listing agent and our agent. The seller agreed to fix the septic.
Already at the top of her budget, it was pretty clear roof damage and an entire replumb was not going to come in at $1500. We told her no again.
They come back again, this time offering another $500. It was the final few days, we had been told our buyers would walk at 60 days, and she was ready to take her home off the market for a few months. With no true picture of how much these repairs would cost, $2,000 wasn’t going to swing this deal. At this point, it was feeling like we were making a deal for a used car, ‘and we’ll even include the mud flaps and paint protection.’
We gave the agent a final NO. The next day, there came a call from her agent. The closing on her home was scheduled for the following Monday. She was not closing on the sale of her home until she knew where she would be living.
The agent started with the hard sell, ‘You’re legally obligated to sell your home, your buyers are going to be homeless, it has already cost them thousands of dollars waiting this long! You have no choice here!’
Following this call is when I realized something was truly ‘up’ here.
You see, they had left her one stipulation out of the sale contract for her home, she was legally obligated to sell after 60 days, with or without someplace to move into.
So, I wrote up a nice little email, to everyone…including all agents involved, the president of the agency we were dealing with, and their corporate offices. I added to that email my girlfriend felt manipulated and bullied
The next day we got a response. The allowance had been bumped up to $4500, with the agency paying any overage for repairs to the roof and plumbing (replumb has already come back at $4600, not counting drywall repair, still waiting for the roofing quote.) The buyers for her home agreed to a lease back for a week to allow for us to get out of the home, paid for by our agent (turns out they weren’t going to be moving in for another month and a half, no homelessness emergency.)
So in the end, things worked out ok, but she could have been forced to purchase this money pit, with little compensation, all because she was rushed into it…rushed into it because I believe they were trying to cover up the error of leaving the contingency out of the sale contract for her home.”
Leave It To The Professionals
“My friend (‘Pete’) neighbour was a bit of a Do-it-yourself fanatic. He just wasn’t very good at it. In fact, by all accounts, he was pretty terrible. Pete would tell us his latest exploits at our lunchtime drinking sessions, and they could have made a TV comedy series about this guy.
Pete decided to have the chimney knocked out to enlarge his living room. A team of builders came in and did the job. It cost Pete a pretty penny, but it improved the space. The neighbour saw it and decided to do the same. He decided to do it himself.
Some weeks went by, the noise next door was bearable, didn’t go on too long and a pile of rubble appeared in the garden. Then it went quiet. Pete went next door for some reason and used the opportunity to find out what kind of job he’d made of it.
Nothing appeared to have been done. The fireplace was still there, the chimney was still in place. Pete asked about the alterations and the neighbour brushed it off, said the job was too much, so he changed his mind.
Fast-forward two years, neighbour sells the house, a new neighbour moves in.
Pete got a knock on the door. The new neighbour asked about the previous neighbour’s DIY skills, with particular reference to the chimney. Pete explained he’d intended to knock it out, there was activity and a pile of rubble in the back garden, then it all went quiet.
‘Come and have a look,’ said the new neighbour.
The guy had knocked the centre of the chimney clean out, realized (or been told!) knocking the sides out without adequate support would bring the house down, was unsure of how to proceed, and so covered the gap with wallpaper. A new neighbour, deciding to redecorate tried to strip the wallpaper, discovered that’s all there was. It cost a pretty penny to put right.”
What Did The Real Estate Agent Say?
“About two years ago, one of my neighbors died suddenly, and the family hired a real estate agent to oversee the cleanup and repair/updates, so the house could be sold.
Everyone in the neighborhood knew the house had massive plumbing issues because the guy had complained about it for years, but never had the money to fix the problems.
The real estate agent hired a contractor to oversee the renovation, paint inside and out, replace appliances, update flooring, etc. After about five months, the house was still not ready, so she realized maybe the guys she hired were not doing as much as they claimed.
She then had another contractor come in to inspect the previous work, and he found multiple instances of poor work and items that would not meet code etc. He had to basically redo about half of what the previous crew had done.
Finally, after about nine months, she was able to list the house. It was sold fairly quickly and the new owner moved in. Unfortunately, the new owner was unaware of the history of plumbing issues and soon learned the house needed to be completely re-piped.
Now the question is, did the real estate agent not disclose that, or had she been told by the contractors they had ‘fixed’ those issues? I personally do not know and would hesitate to say the agent was ‘dishonest.'”
Good Thing They Didn’t Pack The Phone
“I was moving from Charleston, SC to Atlanta, GA. We found a house we liked, and the price was better than anything comparable. So we put in a full price offer, offered to pay for the refrigerator if they left it, and rent until closing. The husband was already relocated to his new job in Ohio, and the wife and kids were stranded in Atlanta until they could sell the house. So they jumped on the offer – a good deal for all of everybody.
So I went back to my house in Charleston and packed all my stuff in a U-Haul and then closed on my house. Then I went back to the old house for one final walk-through to make sure I had everything before the new owners got there. As I was walking out, I realized I hadn’t packed the phone, it was ringing. It was our realtor in Atlanta calling to tell me that the seller had rescinded his acceptance of our offer. Apparently, his realtor had miscalculated and at the offer price, the sellers were upside down and didn’t have the cash to cover it. The selling realtor had forgotten to include his fee when setting the price with the owner. We were supposed to move in that night!
There were no hotel rooms available in Charleston as construction was in full swing after a hurricane. So we drove to Atlanta and got a hotel. Luckily, we found a house in three days and were able to rent to closing.
That one included taking over the mortgage. That leaves you with a little uncertainty on how much you will pay, but only within a couple of hundred dollars if done right. The seller’s realtor was off by $1,500 to my detriment, which I had to cover. This was on an $80 K house (early 90’s).
I tried to go after both realtors, For the first, I needed the selling realtor to enforce his fee against the seller. He wouldn’t do it, because it would look bad. My realtor wouldn’t help. I went to the state board on the second. But apparently, she was the top-selling realtor in Georgia, and they wouldn’t touch her. Her company was Prudential. Later, I got a solicitation from Prudential investments. I wrote back describing what was done to me and that I would never do business with any Prudential company. They wrote me back thanking me for my interest and asking how they could help me with my investments. Sigh.”