What exactly is fraud?
What’s the difference between wanting your house to be in the best saleable condition and defrauding the buyer?
Some of the problems we had did have to do with our “professional” buyer’s agent. By the time we looked at the house we ended up buying, I could tell that she was a little done with us. We had only looked at three houses, so I don’t know if she thought we’d take the first one and she’d be out with her commission or if she was having a bad day or if we were just too needy. I don’t know. I can definitely be needy, especially on something as big as buying a house.
At our first visit we saw they had an above ground pool. Since it was spring, the pool was still winter storaged and covered in puddled leaves. We were both kind of excited and apprehensive. We have three kids and a pool was a huge responsibility. At least the house had a fenced in yard.
We asked our realtor about the pool – we have no idea about pools. “Don’t worry. They’ll have it opened for the summer, so you’ll only have to close it. you won’t have to really do anything until next summer, a year later.
We were relieved.
Well, come closing day, the pool is unopened. Hmm, that’s odd that they didn’t use it all summer, but no worries. I thought they were going to open it. I did too, but it wasn’t in the contract so them really didn’t have to.
Fast forward a couple of months and my husband is talking to our new neighbor, and he doesn’t remember the pool ever being open since he’s lived there – about five years.
We asked about the septic. We’re city folks. When you flush, it goes somewhere. Not only don’t we know where it goes, we really don’t care. That’s the town’s problem. One, it’s not, even in a municipal sewer system, but that’s not relevant here. Oh, don’t worry, we were told. A house this size, they’re also a family of five, don’t worry about the septic.
They also had it pumped before our inspection, which is nice, right? No, not really. You can’t accurately inspect a septic tank when it’s empty. Nice folks or fraud? Judging by the rest of our issues, I’d opt for the latter. The septic system is original.
I’m sorry, original? Like when the house was built original? Like circa 1956 original? Yeah, no worries.
Oh, but wait, the tank itself is a fifty gallon tank. Is that good? Well, not for a family of five. The standard now is at least 1200 – 1500 gallons. And ours is fifty. Surely, that’s a deal breaker? Nope. It was right there in the paperwork, but our realtor didn’t tell us or didn’t tell us the ramifications or thought hey, two of the kids are in diapers, this is a problem years away, and they can replace it. Please look up how much it costs to replace a septic system. I don’t have the stamina to type it in here. Let’s just say it’s a lot, and with us putting literally all of our money into a down payment (that we only had because my mother died and left me life insurance), we couldn’t replace it even if we wanted to.
Hardwood flooring throughout. These bedrooms are carpeted. Hardwoods underneath. Fantastic! So we can pull up these ugly-ass carpets with gum stains and have really nice floors? Yup.
The two carpets we wanted to pull up were in the upstairs bedrooms. We pulled up the corners to see the condition of the floors and they’re not hardwood. They’re not wood at all. They’re the kind of industrial tile you’d find in a school classroom. We were pissed. But not just angry, we were disappointed, we were hurt. We cried. It wasn’t about the floors. It was about that this was my kids’ home. We were not moving from here. This wasn’t a first home; it was our only home. And we were starting out in a sucky place.
The furnace didn’t work at our inspection. Dealbreaker? No. The seller repaired it.
The refrigerator was not new as we were told by the seller; it was ten years old. We still have it.
The seller placed a microwave cart with a microwave between the stove and the refrigerator. Lots of counter space that way. Turned out there was no electrical outlet on that side of the kitchen, so putting the microwave there was a fake-out. Who would think that the microwave would be against a wall without a place to plug it in? Was that a clean off your counters – you’re too cluttered or fraud? You decide; I know what I think.
There were two posters “forgotten” in what was two of their kids’ bedrooms. We’re nice people. We thought we’d take them down, roll them up, and send them to the realtor to forward. We take the first one down very carefully so as not to damage it, and we were surprised to see a baseball sized hole beneath it. It was about the size of the doorknob hitting the wall a few times. Fantastic.
We started to remove the second poster, and then saw the hole behind that one. No lie – it was about 13×9 – the size of a baking dish for brownies. We were pissed. We were also hurt. When we spoke to the sellers, they were so excited to have us buy the house. We were both families of five, stay at home mom, so many similarities, but we were naive and gullible. Actually, we’re honest, and the people we bought from were not.
I’m typically a cynical person, but I trusted, and it’s scarred me. Everytime we’re taken advantage of, it’s another cut, and it always leaves a mark that never goes away.
The wallpaper above the kitchen cabinets was nice and bright; not exactly our tastes but we’d leave it for awhile. It would not last “awhile”. While we were painting the rest of the cabinets, we discovered that the “wallpaper” was nothing more than shelf liner. I suppose the silver lining was that it peeled off rather easily, but it would have been nice to leave it up for a few months to get used to our new living environment and see what else needed our attention instead of wasting time and money on another dishonest display.
There was a wood stove inserted into the fireplace. As I mentioned before, this could not be inspected because it’s not a permanent part of the house, even though it really could not be removed without a contractor. We were told that we would be shown how to use it, but like the swimming pool, this was an empty guarantee from our realtor. It’s been ten years and we haven’t used it at all because we can’t afford to have it inspected for safety and we would prefer not to burn our house down.
The one thing I can’t really blame them for is the lack of a dishwasher. We knew going in, but we did make plans to have one installed once we moved in. I’ve gone into the cost of such an undertaking, and with everything else the sellers left us with we still haven’t gotten one. Our realtor, the “professional” should have known as part of her expertise how undoable it would be.
All our dreams were encouraged by people who should have known better.
I also understand the need for the seller to make their house as saleable as possible and to try and get the best price, but at what point does that fake upgrade or aesthetic change turn to fraud?
We feel they went beyond that, but finding a lawyer and suing all of them was just too cost-prohibiitivel.
We also might have offered a lower price at the bidding. We would have probably lost the house at that point, but it would have been our decision to make. It’s a very bittersweet memory, and still rears itself from time to time.