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There was the would-be buyer who bailed on a home over snakes. And the one who thought the paint was too dark. And still another who feared a cemetery.
Any agent who has been around for a while knows that occasionally deals go sideways — and sometimes for reasons that are hilarious, heartbreaking or a little of both. It’s part of the job.
The topic recently went viral in the agent-focused Facebook group Real Estate Masterminds, where more than 1,500 industry members weighed in on the reasons their clients have walked away from deals — sometimes after those deals are nearly done. The reasons range from driveways that were too steep to pets who apparently didn’t like a property’s vibe. Quite a few agents mentioned clients who said God ordered them not to buy at the last second.
Inman wanted to know more, and consequently reached out to a handful of commenters to find out about their weirdest failed deals. And what’s clear is that life in real estate is not boring.
What follows are a handful of those responses, which have been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Ophidiophobia (fear of snakes)
From: Meg Robinson, Fathom Realty in Chapin, South Carolina
I had a beautiful home listed on Lake Murray. The home was nestled in a quiet cove and had a private dock and boat ramp. An older couple fell in love with the home immediately and entered into a contract to purchase this lake front home.
While we were doing inspections, the wife went on the lake side deck to enjoy the stunning view of the lake. [She] got a ghastly look in her face and said, “it looks like there might be snakes in the woods.”
I asked, “did you see one?”
She said, “no…but it looks like there might be snakes in there.”
That evening the husband called and said they wanted to back out of the contract because there could be snakes in the woods!
The client from smell
From: Renee Poisson, Long Realty in Tucson, Arizona
I’m an agent in Tucson, Arizona. I had a buyer from Phoenix that had to search remotely. Got her under contract on this lovely home.
She came into town, walked into the house and saw they were using Glade Plug-ins. She wasn’t pleased, but at the time didn’t say she was going to cancel. She called me later that evening, and said that after thinking about it a lot, she decided she needed to cancel because she didn’t like that they used the plug-ins. Not because she was worried about the toxins. But because even if she painted over everything when she moved in, the scent would be in the walls forever!
Feng shui, no way
From: Charles Nuber, Keller Williams Dallas Metro North in Dallas, Texas
[She was an] older single lady buyer. There were many factors in her selection process. The address had to work to her feng shui numerology. Then the number of windows on the front of the house were important so her selections were few and far between. I worked with her for about a year, she would only call me if something showed up that would work for her.
Then one day, [she said] “Eureka I found it! Let’s go hurry hurry, I need to see this one!”
She had a big grin when I drove up to meet her. I opened the door and she walked in like Sherlock Holmes, slowly investigating every nook and cranny. Her smile grew even wider as we walked through the dining and living rooms. Then it happened: We entered the kitchen, she stood up, looking at the cabinets. I could see her head nodding as she counted. When she was done counting her smile went to dismay. Only 14 cabinets. It must have 16 cabinets with this address. My comment was, “the search continues?”
Her answer: “Yes yes, this just won’t work.”
She taught me a lot about patience in working with buyers. That was 18 years ago. Her son called me about a year after that showing to let me know she had exited this planet and was looking for a new place in the here-after.
Paint of heart
From: Melissa Tuccio, Sundown Realty in Seymour, Tennessee
I had a house under contract with what would prove to be the most difficult couple in my real estate career. They had been under contract previously and broke the agreement when they found a home they liked better. Luckily for them they still had an inspection contingency and were able to walk away without issue.
The home that was ‘better’ made it past all contingencies. However, I was notified just days before closing they had decided to forfeit their deposit and end the contract because “the dark paint in the master would be too hard to cover and take entirely too long to paint over.”
I (don’t want to) see dead people
From: Rachael Kimbler, Compass in Nashville, Tennessee
During the height of the sellers market in Tennessee, my buyers fell in love with a house and we quickly put in an offer. It had all the space they wanted and the acreage/privacy they needed in a country setting they thought they wanted.
They drove around this new-to-them area before the home inspection and on the way to the house, they drove by the public school that had weeds in flower beds. As they pulled down their long country road, they passed a family cemetery on some land about a half mile down the road from their new house.
They decided the combo of the unruly spring landscaping at the school and cemetery they would have to pass daily were ruining the “vibe” of this home. And they couldn’t go through with this purchase and could not live in this area of town. They purchased in a more developed town with a little less privacy/land and are much happier…the other town just had a better vibe and a few less cemeteries!
From: Joe Gerber, Coldwell Banker in Chicago, Illinois
I was the sellers agent on a renovated property in Chicago. The property was listed at $775,000, this particular buyer had a contingency on the sale of her personal home with her soon to be ex-husband, and as such wrote a full price offer with a hefty down payment.
The day after her inspection, which was clean and unassuming, we got a letter from her attorney, terminating the deal because of personal reasons. And her agent revealed to me it was because she was staying with her husband.