Blog :: 2012

The ghouls of disclosures

In every real estate transaction where the seller has recently occupied the property,  you are obligated to fill out and give the buyer a copy of the seller's property disclosures.  In Oregon, these disclosures are four pages of literally hundreds of questions about the property.  It's a means for the buyer to gain as much knowledge about the property from the seller as possible.  Currently, my favorite seller's property disclosure question  is "has the property ever been used as an illegal drug manufacturing or distribution site?"  I can honestly say I've never been involved in a transaction where a seller answered "yes".  There are many other "defects" that are addressed in the property disclosures, and several that are not. Yet.

In California, the seller is obligated to disclose if a murder has taken place in a property in the last three years.  In Oregon, we are not.  The evidence is there; properties that were the scene of violent crimes, especially grisly, well publicized crimes, significantly reduce the value of a property.  Let's take, for instance, 924 N 25th St apt #213, Milwaukee, WI.  Can you guess whose apartment this was?  Jeffrey Dahmer.  The entire building was razed shortly after Dahmer was arrested.

In every case, the property is cleaned and remodeled, with some owners going so far as having the address changed. Would you buy a murder house?

The Case of the Missing Can of Coke

I met with a client today whose house will be listed in a few days;  she was worried about security.  Who would have access to her house?  Would I be there every time it was shown?   Robbery used to be a serious concern for real estate listings.  Back in the old days ( and by old days, I mean as late as  2003)  buyer's agents would access a listing with a contractor's lock box.  This would be a simple combination lock box.  If the real estate agent was conscientious, she would leave a business card to let the owner and the listing agent know who had been through the house.  There was no other record of who had accessed the box.

It wasn't often, but I heard of jewelry, money, even food, being taken from a listing while it was shown.  It was always difficult to determine who was responsible, because there was no real log of who had accessed the house when.

I'm happy to report in our technologically advanced age, we now have the ability to know when and who is accessing a listing at all times.  Those ubiquitous blue boxes you see on houses for sale send an email in real time to the agent who installed it, letting the agent know immediately who is accessing the listed property.

These RMLS lock boxes have gone a long way to securing properties, but there is still an occasional issue.  Just the other day, an agent in our office told me about her client who'd had something stolen.  She got home after a day's worth of showings, and opening her refrigerator door, noticed something weird.  In place of one of the cans of coke she'd just bought, there was a neatly installed dollar bill.

Clearly the buyer had been thirsty.