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Real estate--what do you want?

COUNTRYSIDE: Regarding the article "Investigate real estate before buying on page 109 of the May/June, 2006 issue:

Mr. Campbell seems to think that the buyer of the property adjoining his has gotten "taken" by a real estate agent, and that everyone who looks for property in the country should always talk to the neighbors, or "hang out in the local bar, diner, or general store for awhile." That makes me shudder! Why would anyone want to base their life on what "others" think? Perhaps the neighbors think the property is horrible, but if the new buyer is satisfied, why should that matter? Not all of us want or care about the same things.

Mr. Campbell seems to think he could have told the new buyer all about the property, and perhaps he could have, but so what? Would he have told the new buyer the "good" things about the property, or only the "bad" things, like "the frame was bent on the home (sounds like a mobile home), the well was just a drilled hole, there was no septic." Perhaps that didn't matter to the buyer. Didn't the buyer have enough sense to make his offer contingent on a satisfactory home inspection before closing? I'd sure take a home inspector's advice before I'd take any neighbor's advice.

When I bought the property I'm currently living at, I didn't ask anyone their opinion--didn't even have a home inspection--and it was in such bad shape that I couldn't get a conventional loan on it ... the loan appraiser refused to appraise it after meeting a raccoon in the attic, among other things; what a sissy! And I'm very, very happy here. Sometimes the location matters more than a "bent frame," "drilled hole," or "no septic." These things can be fixed, or worked around.

Mr. Campbell says, "He (the buyer) told me the real estate agent had said it had everything, just needed a little fixing up and he could move in." This seems to blame the agent. After being in real estate in Illinois for 15 years, I don't see the problem as being agent-related, but perhaps West Virginia is different. The point is, if anyone ever thinks a real estate agent has not done their job properly, notify the authorities. Here in Illinois it is the Office of Banks and Real Estate. Hopefully, every state has a similar organization. Yet, most people will just classify real estate agents as on the same level as used-car salesmen, and not make any effort to report a problem, except to "talk to the neighbors." (By the way, the same holds true for lawyers. If you think they haven't done their job properly, by all means contact the State Bar Association. You may not get the result you want, i.e. putting them in jail, but at least you will have done something, not just stewed about it and made yourselves sick over it.)

Here in Illinois, any home for sale must be accompanied by a "disclosure," signed by the seller, disclosing all the defects that are known to the seller and have not been corrected as of the signing of the listing contract. No broker or agent can be blamed if the seller didn't disclose the defects--they are not bound to dig up all the "dirt" on a property, or talk to all the neighbors; there isn't enough time in the world for that. Besides, all of the talking to the neighbors is just "hearsay," and who knows what ax the neighbors might have to grind. Perhaps they'll just tell you a lot of lies because they don't like your looks and don't want you to move in next to them, or want to buy the property themselves--cheap!

Make sure everything is in writing and signed. Every sales contract in Illinois states that verbal agreements are not valid at all, but then you knew this, didn't you? Don't ever go by what "he or she said," and I'd add that that goes for what the neighbors said, too!

I agree with Mr. Campbell's closing statement, "Know what you can and cannot live with and find out what is going on in the area." But talking to the neighbors and blaming the real estate agent is not always the best way.--B. Staas
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Title Annotation:Country conversation & feedback
Author:Staas, B.
Publication:Countryside & Small Stock Journal
Date:Sep 1, 2006
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