The Craziest Negotiations and Contingencies

Use these funny, unusual, and downright heartbreaking real-life stories to help your agents handle even the oddest transactions.

Have you ever tried to orchestrate an amazing offer on behalf of your buyer or negotiate the best deal for your seller, and something stops you in your tracks? At one time or another, every real estate professional will face a strange contingency or request from a client. Some of those can leave you laughing, crying, or just plain confused.

Here is a small sampling of those most eccentric, emotional, and sometimes outrageous contingencies and negotiations that brokers have encountered, which may give you fodder as you try to help agents navigate peculiar conditions.

The karma connection: Tami McHugh, broker-owner of Heritage Real Estate in Meridian, Idaho, worked with buyers who told her they could sense the “vibes” and emotions in each house they walked through. “When I was showing them a property, if they liked the home, I had to leave them alone for five to 10 minutes,” says McHugh. They would lie on the floor and close their eyes in silence so they could feel the vibes of the house. When the couple finally found a home to their liking and made an offer, they insisted that their inspection period allow them the right to spend a prolonged period of time lying on the floor, face up, palms down with their eyes closed, to be absolutely certain they were buying a happy house. Apparently, the vibe was right, and they bought the house.

Seeking pet-friendly buyers: Trey McCallie, principal broker at Tate Daniels Concierge Real Estate in Lexington, Ky., has experienced his share of zany situations when it comes to offers, showings, and negotiations. One of McCallie’s sellers loved his dogs so much that he became oblivious to the excrement they left all over the floors. The seller decided the problem was that everyone who came to look at the house hated dogs. He’d projected the problem onto the buyers and requested that the agency prequalify the people who were coming to the house to be “pet-friendly.” Somehow, the house eventually sold.

It’s written in the stars: After 32 years in the business, Andy Ackerson, managing broker at The Groves Office of Coldwell Banker in Long Grove, Ill., faced a request he had never encountered. A couple wanted to buy a home he had listed, but the leaders of their church wanted to stay in the house overnight to check it all out. They also requested in the offer to close in 10 days because that’s when the “stars would be aligned.” The requests were granted. “We made it happen, but that was a first for me,” says Ackerson.

An interrupted sale: Ackerson waited in the living room of an elderly woman’s house as she was about to sign the listing agreement to sell her condo. “She insisted on going to her bedroom to get her lucky pen,” he says. “I told her I had several pens that had been lucky for me that she could use.” But she walked into her bedroom to get the pen, and Ackerson waited for what seemed eternity. He called out but she didn’t answer. Slowly, he wandered to the hallway to the bedroom. The poor woman had suffered a massive heart attack and died right on her bed.

The carpet detective: One of McCallie’s sellers would vacuum his carpets a certain direction right before potential buyers would come to view his house. “He told me that he could tell where the people would walk and how many steps they took into certain rooms. If he only saw two footsteps in a room, they didn’t like the room. If they walked all the way through, they were interested,” McCallie says. Not a scientific approach, but the seller seemed to think it was brilliant.

Batman to the rescue: A home inspector found evidence of bat droppings in the attic of one of Matt Schwind’s listings. “The contingency that resulted was the house had to be certified as ‘bat free,’” says Schwind, managing broker for the Bettendorf, Iowa, branch office of Ruhl & Ruhl, REALTORS®. He helped his clients hire a wildlife expert who plugged up all exterior holds and then put in a one-way vent so the bats would leave at night but not be able to get back in.

Grandma’s plants: A seller had transplanted hosta plants from her grandmother’s house to her own yard, but now it was time to sell the house. Since the sale took place in winter, Schwind says, she “made it a contingency that she could come back in the spring to dig up the hostas in the garden that had a family history.”

A Volkswagen down payment: McHugh once represented sellers who owned a manufactured home in a small, rural mountain community. A couple who had no money to put down agreed to purchase the home using owner financing, but the sellers needed some type of collateral. The only thing of value the buyers could offer was the title to a late 1960s Woodstock-era Volkswagen bus. “It was in reasonably good condition and was still painted with peace symbols and flowers,” she says. McHugh accompanied the buyers to several classic auto dealerships to determine the estimated value. A local title company served as the long-term escrow agent and held the title as collateral until the loan was paid off. The buyers ultimately paid off the mortgage, and the bus title was returned to them


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