Realtors Confess: The Craziest Things Buyers Have Done to Score Homes


We all know that in a tough housing market, it can take more than cash to win over a home seller.

But when buyers really want a home, they sometimes get desperate. Sometimes they get creative. And sometimes they get downright weird.

We talked to agents across the country to discover some of the strangest (and, heck, most innovative) ways buyers have tried to close a sale or come up with cash for a down payment. Let’s take a look at what worked — and what tanked big.

Say ‘Aloha’

We’ve heard of a buyer sweetening the pot, but how about offering up a free vacation? Take, for example, a pair of hot-to-trot buyers who offered the sellers a monthlong getaway at their place in Maui, and even tried to write it into the contract, says Tim Mullin, an agent with the Partners Trust in Brentwood, CA.

“My client ended up thinking it would be a little creepy to take them up on it,” Mullin explains.

And here’s the kicker: Even though the sellers declined, the bribery tactic stillworked.

“It was endearing, and it helped them win,” he says.

Verdict: “It may be a little creepy to suggest any kind of relationship after the close of escrow. Kind of like if your doctor invited you to go get a burger after administering a physical,” says Chandler Crouch, founder and head broker ofChandler Crouch Realtors in Forth Worth, TX. “Nice gesture and all, but I would aim for an offering that didn’t involve sharing any kind of personal space after closing and allowed each party to walk away untethered.”

An offer under the table

Jeffrey Feuer, a broker with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in New York City, says he had a buyer who “was calling my seller direct and offering to do a weird deal where she would lower the price and then pay her [the seller] cash under the table, so the estate would save on capital gains taxes.”

The buyer lost the deal. “It didn’t sit well,” he says.

Verdict: That’s a lot of legal trouble for both parties — including mortgage fraud, which is typically considered a felony.

Don’t do that.

“No amount of money is worth risking your freedom for,” Crouch says. “If the buyer would have allowed his Realtor to do the negotiating, odds are he wouldn’t have made such a dumb offer, and possibly even collaborated to arrive at (an ideal) negotiating strategy.”

A picture is worth a thousand offers

Parting with a home you love is such sweet sorrow. Maybe that’s what these buyers had in mind when they presented a framed watercolor painting of the seller’s house along with their offer.

The buyers “were competing with 20-plus other offers, some all cash. Ours was not,” explains Jennifer D. Allen of the Partners Trust in Pasadena, CA, who represented the buyers.

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About Barry G. Morris

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