Last August, we received a phone call from our realtor. We were told that the owner of the apartment we are renting wished to sell. From sometime in September, for every Saturday for about three months on Saturday mornings from 12:00 till 1:00, our apartment was open for inspection. The owner was asking A$439,000. Way too much in our opinion. We live close to a major station on a rail line in Sydney's north, also close to a fairly large shopping area as well. The apartment is on an elevated first floor with a balcony, facing north. The owner did not advertise in the Sydney Morning Herald, and we did not have a sign stuck outside the apartment building either. I guess we averaged about 15 parties of prospective buyers the first couple of Saturdays the apartment was open. The numbers gradually dropped off, the price he was asking dropped to 419K, and although there were a few bites, nothing was forthcoming. We accepted that the owner wanted to sell, but we most definitely wanted an investor to buy the property, and to keep us as tenants. If anyone had any sense, they would not buy the apartment to live in. Too much work to do. The living-dining area has a wooden floating floor which I believe was shoddily done, as the fittings are loose around the skirting boards. The electrical fittings and phone fittings are rather poorly done as well. Initially there were several cracks in the walls - because of the drought, apparently. After the first couple of showings, the realtor had a paint crew to come in and put spac-filla in the cracks and paint over them - "as good as new".
From about late November or early December, we went from weekly inspections to "By appointment only", so it was very, very quiet. We figured the owner would give up. But on the last day of our holiday in Tasmania, my mobile phone went - the realtor asking for a showing the next day. And so the whole drama started again, a phone call a day or so before a showing and so on. Last Thursday was a return visit of a party of three - I had believed them to be investors, but one when one asked if it was possible to get Chinese cable TV, I realised that they were interested in buying it for their elderly mother. They had asked me about water leaks etc. and I thought I would tell them that we had a break in several years ago. I did, and described how the thieves had broken in. I felt I was doing these people a favour. Otherwise, well, caveat emptor - buyer beware.
The realtor who was there as well quickly stepped in and started 'damage control', pointing out the pin-lock in the windows, no break-in since etc. He was back again that afternoon with a different party. I asked him if the people who came that morning were interested - the answer was "No - the security issue put them off. They were all ready to sign that morning." He told me not to mention anything negative, just the positives. On Friday, one fellow came through, and commented on the amount of light in the living area. It faces a balcony which is almost surrounded by trees. We love it, but accept that due to its proximity to the parking area one floor below and a fence, it makes for easy access from the outside.
So on Saturday, when Thursday afternoon's party came back for a second look, with a third person in their party, I deliberately kept the lights off. T and I were happy to sit on the balcony and wait for them to leave.
So, I have sabotaged a potential sale which would have seen T and I looking for rental property in an extremely tight market. Self preservation.
Will I go to hell for giving unasked for but honest information?
Should I keep the lights on?
Readers of this blog might have been in a similar situation. What did you do? Some readers might be in the real estate industry. Do our realtors seem kosher? Some of you might be landlords or potential investors. Just how much transparency do you feel comfortable with or desire when inspecting properties?