In this crazed housing market, I want to remind folks who want to buy a house today that they need to step back before bidding up their dream house and buying a nightmare. Sellers lie; they employ subterfuge and deception. For example, they top off a broken air conditioner with freon, fooling the inspector—perhaps costing them $1,000 but saving 10 times that much on the cost of replacing a damaged system. Friends have had sellers who patch and paint over leaking roofs and ceilings that conceal mold and damage. Inspectors routinely underestimate the cost of repairs, such as foundation and drainage problems.
I heard of one seller who cheated the buyer, a neighbor, by not revealing a long-standing, major drainage problem that had existed for years. She was a local TV celebrity, divorcee, and single mom. The woman she sold it to was a single mom as well. When the bill to correct the problem came in at $35,000, the buyer confronted the seller. Her response: “I’m a single mother and needed to get the most I could from the sale of my house.” In her hubris, she had no regard for the woman who bought her house.
Yes, older homes have problems, and home buyers often do not prepare for unexpected repairs and costs. Real estate agents should always remind their clients that this is a given. Buyers should insist on at least a one-year home warranty in the sales contract. Paying for a second inspector could protect you from a deceitful seller, but a clever seller can be hard to overcome.
I find the greed and avarice in the housing market to be unforgivable, but it is merely a reflection of our world today. Self-interest at any cost is the motto of our times—and it will be our undoing-whether its ignoring climate change, price gouging, cheating a buyer, or letting the Ukrainians suffer while we complain about gas prices.