Looks like I'm gonna get sued

I am also a lawyer, and as such, the only “official” advice I can give you is to hire a lawyer and have him/her handle this.

Some general comments to add, though. You said you didn’t tell your lawyer about the tape. BAD IDEA! I cannot stress enought that YOU MUST TELL YOUR LAWYER EVERYTHING! If you do get sued, that tape will be discoverable by the other side, and your attorney will be blindsided by the whole issue. Remember, you can tell your lawyer anything, and they can’t tell anyone else. It only helps to give them every scintilla of information you have.

One thing to keep in mind regarding actually filing suit against anyone - when sued, a defendant will countersue. Then you may be defending yourself from an award to the real estate agency or the sellers. You need to discuss the risks & benefits with your lawyer. If they don’t have any of your money, or less than you would spend in litigation, what’s the point of suing?

If you’re concerned about being sued, ask your lawyer about negotiating a Covenant Not to Sue with the sellers and/or the agency. If they agree to sign one, that means they can’t sue you ten years from now (and you can’t sue them either).

If you do get into litigation, ask your lawyer about any Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices law in your area. In NC, if you win such a claim, you get treble damages and attorney’s fees, so it is a great tool.

Good luck!

I’m glad you got a lawyer. And now some free, unsolicited advice to all prospective home buyers:

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Get pre-approved for a mortgage. Then if timing is essential, you have a leg up on other bidders.

Don’t “fall in love” with something that isn’t yours yet.
If you are ruled by your emotions, let someone else negotiate. My husband and father are MUCH better negotiators than I am because they are willing to walk away. This is incredibly empowering when you are negotiating. It puts the pressure on the sellers, not you.

Always make the sale contingent on an inspection and timely repair of all items listed in the inspection report. Then contract a reputable inspector to represent YOU in inspecting the house thoroughly. This is going to cost you $250-$1000 (in Cincinnati) depending on the size of the house. Pay it. Don’t rely on Uncle Tom or a friend. Our whole-house inspector found evidence of termites. (There are holes bored into the basement where they put the chemicals.) We insisted on then getting a termite inspection, and we split the cost with the sellers. Then when that checked out okay, we asked for a structural engineer to check the integrity of the house. We had to pay for that out of our pocket, but the sellers were bound by the contract until we were satisfied. It turned out that the house was structurally sound, but had it not been that would have been the best $200 I ever spent.

The fax is your friend. If you want to communicate with the bank/agent, etc. send a fax. Then save both the original and the fax transmission log to prove that you sent it. This is proof that you sent something. For very important matters, send a certified letter.

Absolutely.

Girl, you are way past the point of needing to be nice. At this point, you need to make your lawyer get you out of this free, clear and your deposit back completely.

Mike is a dirt-bag. That line he said:

is the oldest line in the “dirty real estate agents’” book. I know in MI, if you want to make an offer, an agent is REQUIRED to write that offer for you, regardless of whether he/she thinks its good. It is not Mike’s place to make a determination of whether the offer is “good” or not.

Geez, this guy is such a sleaze, he makes me want to puke.

File a big, long, very detailed complaint with the local Board of Realtors, cc: him and the agency. Have your lawyer help you.

I agree with whoever said to “take them to the mat”. Its no longer about “who knows who” and “whose an old friend”. We are talking about a substantial investment and potentially huge damage to your credit and credibility. Plus, no repuatable mortgage company will EVER give a mortgage without hazard insurance.

I’d like Mike to answer this question: what exactly is “sealing” a roof? I worked in the homebuilding industry for 3 years and my father is a contractor and I’ve never heard of “sealing” a roof. If he’s talking about putting some sort of coating over it, this is a way bad idea. All this would do would prevent the moisture from evaporating as the heat rises and then you’d be dealing with a much huger issue in having to also do structural repairs to your roof joists and stuff when all that trapped moisture caused damage.

Man, people like this guy give the good people that are in the real estate industry a BAD name.

He deserves to be ground down and have his license taken away.

PunditLisa’s post reminded me of another point I wanted to make:

Do NOT EVER close on a house before EVERY single inspection, repair or whatnot is completed to your specifications.

Allowing for repairs to be done AFTER you’ve closed is setting yourself up for failure and trouble like you’ve never seen.

I have a friend that allowed this and she is still dealing with a roof leak problem 1 year after she’s closed.

Holding out that “no close until I approve on repairs” is a mighty big carrot.

They have no incentive to get them done expeditously after closing except for the fact that you’ll be unhappy. Most contracts now a days also have an arbitration clause where you cannot go to court without having a decision made by an arbitrator. Not that this is bad, but its just a huge delay in the whole process while at the same time, your roof is still leaking and that broken window still isn’t fixed.

GOOD LUCK! Keep us posted. Make your lawyer earn his money.

What they said. Plus…

Lissa, I understand that the agency owner is a friend of your family and you’d prefer not to cause them trouble.

BUT…that same owner hired this scumbag and is still allowing him to work at the agency. While this may not be a pleasant thing to consider, it sounds as if the owner doesn’t have much problem with screwing customers, as long as they’re not family friends.

If s/he didn’t know that this sort of thing was happening, then s/he has NO business running a real estate office.
YOU HAVE NO OBLIGATION TO BE NICE TO ANYONE. YOU DON’T OWE ANYONE ANYTHING.

These people have tried to fsck you over. Don’t reward them for doing that. Don’t try to ‘be nice’ and hope it will all go away. They will only try to take further advantage of you. If you’re willing to give up $500 to get out of it, then give it to your lawyer, who is actually HELPING YOU instead of screwing you like these jerks did.

Mike did damn near EVERYTHING wrong, if your explanations are correct. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that he has some sort of ownership over one or more of the properties in question. You should absolutely file a complaint against him and try to have his license yanked.
On a side note - there ARE actually good realtors out there, who stay in business for a very long time by doing things right. If ever you find one, DON’T LOSE THEM! :slight_smile:
Good luck Lissa! Keep us posted.

I agree completely with Kellibelli, this is a trainwreck!

I am so sorry you had to go through this for purchasing your first house.

That said.

The minute I heard about the foundation problems, all I could think of was, **Get out and get out fast! **
If the house doesn’t have a good foundation, everything else is going to suffer (roof, windows, walls,plumbing, ventilation, electrical…) too.

In closing of rubbing salt into the wound, I would like to give my old adage, " No one sells a house (or used car) that is in perfect condtion."

I third the motion to document everything and notify the liscensing board about this agent as well as his sister for whatever regulatory committee (or just her boss) handles mortgages. Handle all correspondence via certified mail.
Have you told in detail the owner of the real estate agency?

Good luck and try not to tear your hair out. The real perfect house for you is still out there. But you are still in the woods thanks to this scumbag agent.

There is no way Mike would ever know about the tape. Only hubby and I know, and I doubt you guys will tell on me. I’m going to destroy it.

The mortgage company apparently tacked that on. It was listed on the settlement statement we received. Quite expensive, actually. We were not aware that they were going to do this, as we had our own insurance company.

We didn’t have one when we closed on our old house, and at the time we offered on this one, we didn’t think one was necessary. Stupid on our parts, I realize now. As I’ve said, if I even THINK about offering on another house, it’s going to be with my attorney holding my hand every step of the way.

Yet another thing I discovered when talking to a contractor.

I haven’t spoken to him. One of my relatives has, and I’m sure he expressed displeasure, but to what extent, I do not know.

I’ll keep you all posted.

Lissa, if you need me to pay a certain someone a visit with a lead pipe and a 2x4, just lemme know. Who’s with me??

Lissa, I am truly sorry for your predicament. The system for selling houses is different here, so (though I have recently bought a house) I have no comment to make on that side of things. However, the emotions are the same so I have a comment on that: Get the F###k out of the deal. Hire a lawyer and say “Sic 'em”. Aim (1) Get out of the deal with as little financial loss as possible. Aim (2) See if you can get Mike stopped so that the next buyer, with less backbone or nouce, doesn’t suffer the same way.

Even the best of houses have expensive problems. The one you are considering isn’t even remotely OK. You will be up for enormous ongoing expenses (what Shirley said). All the problems you ironed out in your old place will occur again in the new one, and the effect will be magnified 'cos you fought so hard to have the problems rectified. Eventually you will be resentful.

There are other houses. Even in a small community. It’ll be worth the wait.

And, good luck!

**Sasquatch! ** Dude, after reading this thread, I’m with you!! Let me know where and when!!

Lissa I have no advice for you (I’m not a lawyer, and know nothing about real estate…), but you DO have my sympathy and prayers… you got screwed!

OK Sasquatch!, where and when?

Geez, we just had the sellers accept our bid (see link in sig). Inspection is tomorrow, closing scheduled for mid-Jan.

Y’all just scared me so much, I nearly wet my pants.

um, at the risk of hijacking (apologies, Lissa), should we have a lawyer present at our closing? I’m petrified now that we’ve forgotten something important.

Actually, if anybody’s got answers, post in my thread. I don’t wanna clutter up poor Lissa’s tale with my petty sh*t.

Sigh.

Lissa, I want to repeat what someone else said: Don’t worry about being “nice.” There’s no room for that here. You have to look out for your rights, and you have to make sure you get yourself and your family a sound, safe, reliable house to live in. IF people give you flak, I think you can say in a matter-of-fact way “I’m sure you understand that buying a house is a serious transaction, and we treating it as such.” We had a lot of problems getting things right in our condo, as we were really pushing them to get the fricking thing done on time prior to our scheduled move. The builder was being sort of unpleasant about it, making me feel like we were being unreasonable. There was one more problem to deal with, and I just couldn’t bear to talk to them again. Three years later, I still am dealing with the problem (it’s a slow drain–I suspect someone let drywall mud go down the drain). If I want to fix it now, it will be on our nickel, and it drives me crazy every single fricking day. All because I wanted to “be nice.” It was stupid.

Also, don’t be in love with this house. Start seeing its flaws for what they are, and maybe you’ll stop mourning the deal. Saying you love this house is like saying you love this racehorse except for the fact it only has one leg. Or that you really love some guy except for the fact that he gets drunk and beats you senseless once a week. It doesn’t matter how handsome he is, or how long you looked for another guy–this is not the guy for you. And this problem-ridden house isn’t for you either.

I’ll second cranky…there is NO place for being nice when it comes to a house, IMO. And another good thing to remember…if you’re looking at a house, see if there’s a way you can look at it while it’s raining hard. This goes for new houses too…my parents found about 7 leaks AFTER they moved in. Luckily, the builder fixed it, but only after several shouting matches.

We’ve pretty much decided at this point to build our own home, rather than risk buying someone else’s problems.

We’re sure that they’ll ask to have the earnest money. When they do, we’ll offer it on condition that they sign a covenant not to sue. All in all, including inspection, we’ll be out $650, which sort of sucks, but I’m considering it payment for a crash course in real-estate transations, human decency (or the lack thereof) and How Not To Get Screwed Next Time. That inspection was the best $150 I’ve ever spent.

We’re going to wait until this is settled one way or the other before presuing Mike. Once the threat of lawsuit has passed, I’ll feel a bit more comfortable in going after him.

TELL YOUR LAWYER ABOUT THE TAPE RIGHT NOW!!! He will NOT use it against you in any way or let anyone else know that it exists, but he will be able to prepare to deal with the possibility that it will come to light.

In case you haven’t noticed, this is a public message board you’re telling this little tale on. How much do you want to bet on the proposition that no one else in your town of 30,000 reads the SDMB, and thinks, “Gee, that sounds like what happened to Fred’s niece’s girlfriend’s cousin. I wonder if it’s the same person?” Plus, if you are in a lawsuit and a discovery request is made, you are going to have to swear that you have turned over every document and record of any interaction with Mike. You don’t really want to commit perjury on top of everything else, do you?

:: Mrs. Tygr pulls Tygr off to side, frantically whispers in his ear. Tygr looks suprised, shuffles back to front. ::

Ladies and Gentlemen, it has now been pointed out to me that I am the most clueless person on the face of the earth. All I can say is that I thank the heavens that I’m married. Otherwise, doubtless I’d be broke and homeless, sitting on a curb trying to figure out how to tie my own shoelaces. I shall now go over sit over here and bang bricks together.

Lissa, I could be wrong, but I don’t think the sellers are entitled to your earnest money. The house-buying transactions in which I’ve participated usually had the earnest money being rolled into the down-payment, or something like that. If the deal doesn’t go through, the sellers aren’t allowed to keep your earnest money.

I believe the sellers are entitled to the deposit ONLY if the buyers back out without a valid reason, and even then, it is split with the realtor. We had a guy decide not to show up for closing, and our compensation for having our house off the market for 6 weeks was half of the $1000 deposit he put down. Big Fat Hairy Deal!! Anyway, if the contract is void, the money is supposed to be returned to the buyers. Don’t give up anything…

We asked for it back in the letter we took to the agency. We’ve heard nothing back from them, which leads me to believe they didn’t think we had a valid reason for breaking the contract in the first place. I guess Mike was right in one respect. If they want to be jerks about it, then I guess it will be settled by the courts.

Okay, okay. I’ll tell him. But as I said, it contains nothing useful to either side. And you’re right, I don’t want to commit perjury. Honesty is the best policy.

A couple of times people have posted “If you’re telling the truth about this, then you’re fine.” My first reaction was to be a bit irritated, because I thought that it was being implied that I might be exaggerating to make my side look stronger. My theory on this whole matter is that I want the best advice I can get, and I wouldn’t get good advice if I weren’t telling the truth, and telling the whole story as well. I realized, however, that due to the nature of the Net, that I’m a complete unknown, and it’s not unfair to think that I might not be completely honest. However, as I’ve said, any advice I might get would be flawed if I were exaggerating, or making things up. And, after all, what would I have to lose by telling the truth if there unpleasant facts on my side?

Thanks for my first laugh of the day, Tygr.