Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Adding Insult to Injury

I need some opinions here.

I told you that the pink-haired people are trying to back out of the 2 year lease that they signed with us. Upon hearing this, we told our realtor that we had better get our house on the market immediately and try to find new renters--and we also told him to let the "renters" know that they could "buy" themselves out of the lease by paying four months rent or (and this is the option our lawyer advised) they could pay monthly until we (or they) find new tenants.

Also, just to update--when they were entering into the lease, we lowered the price to their requested amount, agreed to move out earlier than planned (even though that meant changing our closing and move-in date) and we started packing up our house--so now there are boxes, etc. everywhere which will all have to be dealt with before we start showing it again. Not to mention, the time we had the house off the market was probably the last week where potential renters for September 1st would be looking.

So today our realtor forwarded this email from the renters' broker to us (obviously I'll change the personal information in it) and--OMG! It's the most insulting thing ever! The realtor is basically saying that her clients are destined for sainthood and we are money-grubbing monsters.

Here--read it for yourselves (just for fun I'm going to highlight all the insults in blue!):

"Hi Peter,
Thanks for your email and thank you for helping to find a fair resolution on the lease of [house]. I always know that you are doing the best you can and I appreciate your professional efforts on this one.

I think it would be appropriate to share with your clients the situation my clients, the L------s are in. They too are feeling the effects of this market - the financial impact and the emotional impact.

The L-----s purchased their home 2 years ago for $1,325,000. Now we are on the market for $995,000 and have entered into a contract for a normal negotiated price off that list price. The L----'s have lost approximately $400,000 in this deteriorating real estate market. That being said, they have weathered this transaction/situation with grace and dignity - not blaming anyone - just accepting the situation as out of their control.

We entered into a contract for the sale of [their house] - twice. The first time within 10 days of listing the home. The buyers were from North Carolina and their plans changed and backed out of our sale for personal reasons. After 3 weeks of being under contract, we had to go back into the market. There was no financial reimbursement for time lost. We then entered into a contract with a family who was very well qualified financially - they had already closed on their home - and their mortgage contingency was more or less a formality. We were, as you know 4 weeks from closing and on Monday the buyer of our home lost his job. He is probably in his mid to late 50's and we know that can be tough. They notified us on Monday that they could not proceed with the purchase of [house].

Peter, I would like you to know the response of my clients....After an initial pause and "Oh Shit", they expressed their concern for the buyers - wondered how they were doing - felt compassion for a professional who still has a child in college and has now lost his job. There was no discussion has to how we could "screw them" for some piece of the earnest money or make the resolution of this transaction difficult. All this on top of the fact that now we have to go back into the market - yet again - in August of all times. It has been very difficult for my clients as well.

I share this with you because, on the other side, we were all quite shocked to get a different sort of response from your clients when we let them know that we needed to get out of the lease. I know we cannot expect everyone to be understanding, but we can hope that all involved understand the tough environment we are all operating in. It is sad that a man/husband/father lost his job; and it is unfortunate that we have had to "sell" [their house] twice because events outside of our control have transpired; and we feel very badly that after 6 days from signing a lease we are asking to be able to get out of the lease for unfortunate events outside of our control. We entered into it in good faith and we are asking your clients to release the L----s in good faith, under the circumstances. The L----s cannot afford to execute a lease and simultaneously make mortgage payments on [their house].

It seems to us fair that since your clients were only out 6 or 7 days of rental listing time that the L---s reimburse your clients for 1 week of rent (approximately $1075). Although we believe that is the fair option, we are willing to offer your client instead 1/2 month rent or $2125. This give them a bit extra for any inconvenience during those 6 days.

Thanks Peter for handling this on your end.

So this woman attacked our character! So far this deal has been all about THEM--they want a lower price, an earlier date--and now--to be let out of the lease! I told my realtor that we would be more than happy to let them out of the lease--once we (or they) find us new renters.

Is this unreasonable?

And frankly, I would have been WAY more inclined to let them out if we hadn't received this personal attack! Now we're mad.

So please--I'm interested--what would you do??


Heather said...

To paraphrase the late, great Livia Soprano: "Oh, poor them."

To quote my late, great grandmother-in-law: "You buy a ticket, you take your chances."

Since WHEN is the real estate market supposed to be a touchy-feely, "let's all hold hands and sing Kumbaya" kind of thing?

Oh, wait, that's right: it ISN'T.

These people SIGNED A LEGAL DOCUMENT, knowingly and of their own free will.

Just as YOU or I or any other grown-up would rightfully understand, if *we* signed such a document we would be *accountable* for what we agreed to by putting our name on the dotted line.

To quote my younger sister, circa age 8: "Too bad, so sad."

Seriously - why is their rotten luck on their end of things YOUR problem?! I mean, you've had some rotten luck on YOUR side of things with the whole house selling thing, too!

No, sorry, I'm totally on your side here. As is, I believe, that little thing called the LAW, what with them signing a legally binding contract. For the love of Pete.

I'm steamed on your behalf here after reading that email from their agent!

What did your agent have to say about it?

Ugh. What a mess. I hope things resolve quickly and in your favor!!!

Rebecca Jo said...

OH MY!!!!!!!!! What the heck? I'm totally lost when it comes to all things real estate/rentings/leasings - anything that has to do with property...

But is it possible to just FIRE all these people - the realtor... there are MORE people out there that would LOVE to earn commissions AND be friendsly & NOT slam YOU!! Oh mercy...

Ronda's Rants said...

First I question why your Realtor shared the letter!
Both Realtors function is to find a solution not inflame the fires of war!
I think it was poor behavior of the first realtor to write the letter...the realtor wrote the letter not the client! Your realtor showed poor judgment in sharing it with you. He should have presented the offer and explained that you both are in similiar "boats!"
In fact...everyone is in a boat in my metaphors these days as in sinking boat etc... Sorry, not helping.
I would accept the last offer and say goodbye...
It is bad all over!
I am sorry is not good news! :)
PS. I have found that when I show grace to comes back to me.
I can't say I always take the high road but when I do it has always benefited me...
Sending love.

Erin said...

Though they are totally bound to the lease legally, it seems like a really stressfull situation and that they are stressfull people.
I have a knot if my stomach reading about them, and do you want them around for who knows how long??
When we wanted out of a lease, our landlord said we could get out, no $$ owed, if we found renters for the home, and we thought this was 100% FAIR.
But, if it were me, I would want the bad karma people out of my life and would charge them what you see fit to get out of the lease.
Just me :)

Kristin said...

They are legally bound to an agreement with you. Are you not bound to an agreement with someone else? If so hold them to it. If not I would mediate an agreement having them be responsible for way more then the 6 days.

Crap! I hope that you get some well deserved resolution.

Allison said...

Wow...I am in shock! I think you are doing the right thing, especially since they signed a contract with you.

Jennifer said...

Thank you for your support everybody.

I feel madder than ever this morning w/ the prospect of figuring out what to do w/ all these boxes and getting the house back in shape so it can be shown. Not exactly easy w/ 5 kids...

Heather--you cracked me up w/ the "kumbaya" comment!

Glenda, saved by grace said...

They are legally bound, but they didn't write the letter, their realtor did. Look at it from their point of view (step into their shoes) how would you want to be treated?
My advise ..take the second offer, cut your losses, and get ready for the new tenants who will be better than these! :)
You are the better person.
Its kinda like a "pay it forward"

Ashley said...

I think you have been pretty understanding up until this point. And now they just expect you to handle it when they are screwing you over. Talk to your lawyer or realtor and see what they think. If you can bind them to more then do it. You have to look out for yourself, too. If not, take what little they are offering and start looking elsewhere.

noble pig said...

Ugh. I can only imagine the stress and you need to move on but they are bound to the contract.

I guess it all comes down to how much you want to fight it. The whole things sucks but I hold them responsible.

manda said...

I can't imagine how stressed you must be! Wow, not what you thought you would get from the pink-haired people! I think you should do what you'll feel the best about. Make the decision that's right for you. If that's taking to two weeks worth of rent or find new renters, it's all about what you need to get from this deal so you don't feel totally screwed.

Good luck, Mama!

Jen said...

I don't think that what you are asking is bad. They are the ones that signed the lease. The time that they had it signed doesn't matter it could be one hour or one month but once its signed its what they agree too. You are letting them out but which is nice but you should be compensated.
I think that you are being more than nice and reasonable and this realtor should eat it.

Susie said...

I agree with Rhonda. It was bad form for the their realtor to write the letter and even worse form for yours to share it with you. Business is business and although I would not be unsympathic to human situations, I wouldn't play violins and attack someone for asking what they are legally entitled to. If I were you, I would take what they are offering and run as far away from them as you can.

Audrey at Barking Mad said...

Yeah, there's no debating that it's tough all over. However, stuff happens and ya know what, they signed a contract. They had a reasonable chance of this sort of thing happening as they've already been through it before and new it was a possibility again - the issue with their home having to be placed on the market.

I won't go into a long diatribe about how this country is in the mess it is because of people defaulting on their commitments...however, it's apparent that if they can afford to take out a lease without their house having CLOSED completely and finally, then they can afford to maintain that obligation until you've found renters. Any attorney worth their salt would tell you the same thing.

The other thing that really bothered me about this email that supposedly came from someone calling themselves a professional is the use of profanities. I don't care if the sender has a personal relationship outside of the real estate market with the sender, and despite the fact that I cuss like a sailor sometimes, it's entirely unprofessional when one is trying to make a case for their own client, to use profanity at all. How crass and completely immature!

They signed a lease and I think should be made to honor it until such time as you've found someone else to lease your home.

CaraBee said...

Was there a cancellation clause on your lease? Ie. if they had to cancel or terminate early they would be responsible for X? If that is the case, and I imagine it is, then I would ask for that. Period. They entered into a contract with all of the responsibilities and obligations. On the other hand, if your lease had no stipulations for termination, then I would take the 1/2 month offer and wash your hands of them. You're better off without people who are so willy nilly about their responsibilities.

I also agree that this ploy for your sympathies/attack on your character was extremely unprofessional!

Putting the FUN in DysFUNctional said...

OK, call me mean or whatever your former renter's problems are not YOUR problems. They signed a lease, a legal document, and they are bound by that. You are NOT wrong to ask them to uphold that agreement!
OMG I would be so mad by that nasty letter.

Anonymous said...

Well, a contract is a contract IMO. All of that money is waaay above my means..and I'll tell you...that in this economy or any one in my position would be let out of a contract like they are wanting. Unless they put in the contract that their rental was contingent on the sale of their home....I'd say you have a right to be mad and to demand anything you want.

Mimi said...

I would suck them dry for every penny I could, because I'm a spiteful person, lol!

Mimi said...

Oh and just to show my maturity, I would have instructed me realtor to e-mail back with, Waaaa-waaa, boo-hoo, now suck it!