We’ve all gotten the spammy emails before that seem to be too good to be true. Frequently a Nigerian prince is involved, or a long-lost relative with an inheritance, or a Chinese investor…
One time, however, one of those emails I got wasn’t too good to be true, it was an honest to goodness for real opportunity, which I closed, and I have the HUD-1 settlement statement to prove it! It was almost like selling a house to a Nigerian prince.
Here’s the story about the time I sold a house sight unseen.
I was sitting at my desk in my home office when I saw an international call come through on my cell phone. I didn’t bother to pick it up, I figured it was a wrong number or a waste of time, and I didn’t have an international calling plan.
So I put my phone down and went back to sorting through my emails.
About 30 minutes later I got a new lead in my email in box with a question about a property. The email said “we love this home, we’ve been looking at it online for 3 months now, and we want to buy it but I’m in London and my husband is in Baghdad and we just can’t tell from here how deep the backyard is, will you please go find out?”
We traded emails back and forth a few times, so feeling ambitious that day I decided to head on over to the house – it was a builder’s model home that was for sale – with my tape measure so I could show them how gung-ho I was.
When I walked into the builders model home and told the salesperson there that I wanted to measure the backyard he said “well that’s kind of odd, a lady was just here about 20 minutes ago and she said exactly the same thing.”
I knew immediately who it was, it was my partner at that time who happened to have family overseas, so she always picked up international calls.
Before I picked up my cell phone and called her, I emailed my customer in London and told her that the lot was 29 feet deep. I wanted to beat her to the punch. Then I called my partner and told her where I was and we both laughed. Here we were, two crazy motivated Albuquerque real estate professionals, partners, trying to make a sale under the same unbelievable scenario. What were the odds?
However, my partner had already beat me to the punch and the buyers had told her “we want to buy it.”
We decided to work together on the transaction, and we decided I would do the contract negotiating and she would do the repair negotiating.
I went back to the builder’s office, walked in the door and said “they want to buy it.”
He asked when they were coming to see the house and I patiently explained, no, they want to buy it sight unseen!
Well he was not a very sophisticated or tech savvy guy, he could barely write an email, so the idea of somebody buying a property sight unseen nearly blew his mind. When I told him that they had seen the virtual tour online 1,000 times, I don’t think he even knew what a virtual tour was.
He was reluctant to do it, so I had to practically insist that he write-up the contract. When it was completed, I told him no, I wasn’t going to fax it overseas, I was going to email it overseas, lol.
To make an already long story shorter, after 6 walk through final inspections (yes we had to do it 6 times to make sure the property was in perfect condition for our overseas clients) our clients closed on the house. Sight unseen.
I was thinking of this story today because I received another email request yesterday, only slightly less absurd because these buyers are located not in London and Baghdad, but on the US east coast. And I went and previewed the property for them.
The moral to the story, is to take all online property inquiries seriously, because you just never know, it might be for real.
I have to wonder, will we be seeing more transactions that look like this in the coming years? Will 3D property tours replace in – person home showings? Will walk though videos like I did for buyers who contacted me yesterday, or walk throughs via skype or Google Hangout become the norm rather than the exception?
Only time will tell.
by Albuquerque Real Estate Agent Rich Cederberg, eXp Realty (505) 803-5012.