Case Study: Buyers Will Not Be Burned

Like the vast majority of buyers who I have worked with in the past 23 years, most buyers have a very detailed, and often very long list of “must haves” when starting the home buying process. Such is the case with some buyer clients of mine who closed on their first home two weeks ago. These particular buyers had a decent budget, not a huge budget, but the sort of budget that gets you a nice home but an extra 25 or 50k would have certainly gone a long way. So needless to say, these particular buyers were trying to pack as much home into their budget as possible.

Josh Feeney
Story written by Josh Feeney

We came across one such home which we thought from the moment that we walked in, was going to be the clear winner, especially considering the inventory in this particular neighborhood had been considerably low the past several months. This particular home is a top floor, duplex-up condominium located in a gorgeous neighborhood and on a quiet side street. You know, the kind of home that on paper will meet, and very likely exceed, most expectations.

My clients and I saw the home for the first time, and then again for a second time. I should mention that the listing agent was not present for either of the showings, nor did he provide much information about the home. Virtually every aspect of the home seemed perfect, a little too perfect to be honest with you. During the course of a few phone conversations, the listing agent had mentioned that the home had been “rehabbed”, without giving any details. I am not a fan of vagueness, and guess what, neither are buyers! Especially when it comes to the details of the home that they may want to purchase. I have heard the term “rehabbed” to describe everything from a gut renovation, down to using this term to describe that the home was simply painted.

“Great”! I say to the listing agent, “what all has been rehabbed in the home” “I will have to find out” I am told by the listing agent… Ok… You have a 700k home for sale, and you have zero details on the “rehab”? Over the course of the next few days, I continue to press the listing agent for details from his client. Eventually I am told that the home had some fire damage, and that the “rehab” work stemmed from a “small fire”. Ok, again, how bad was the fire? At this point, both my buyer clients and I are getting very nervous about this home, but I continue to press for answers. A few days later the listing agent provided me with a report from the Chicago Fire Department, as well as a detailed work order detailing the full extent of the rehab.

While reading through the fire report, I am pretty sure that I did in fact laugh out loud. This “small fire” ended up causing 198 THOUSAND dollars worth of damage. That is not a small fire in my opinion. The story gets better. As I continue to read through the report, the cause of the fire is almost unbelievable. I will paraphrase this part of the report, but it read something like:

“The Chicago fire department responded to a call at 123 Address in Chicago where we found a fire inside a 3rd floor residence which had spread to both floors of the home. The owner stated that he came home late at night under the influence of alcohol, sat on a couch on the main level of the home and proceeded to light up a one hitter. The owner stated that at some point after lighting up, he fell asleep on the couch. The owner stated that he woke up, tried to extinguish the fire himself, and realized that he needed to call the fire department as this fire was beyond his control.

Ok, so if there is a lesson to be learned here, aside from the obvious part about coming home inebriated and lighting a one hitter on your couch, it is that you should ALWAYS ask a lot of questions and do your due diligence when buying a home/ Otherwise, you just might get burned 🙂