Haus Schwatz: Cati's DC Real Estate


The Deluded Seller/Agent, Take 2

Well, I'm excited to report that neither my clients nor I play any roles in this drama anymore.  There has been an unexpected turn of events, and from now on, we're just going to lean back and watch the show.

A week and a half ago, I wrote a somewhat desperate [members only] blog about preparing an offer on a very charming but outrageously overpriced house whose seller was her own agent.  She was blinded by love and pride.  (Or SAD,  Seller Agent Dementia,  thanks,  Andrew!)  Her former home was the only larger house in the historic district my friends and clients were interested in, and there hadn't been another one on the market in a long time.  All you Rainers' comments were so comforting and encouraging, and I was getting ready to offend her in as nice and professional a way I could. 

As I had just assembled all my docs from comps to a "tax CMA" (recommended by Martha Brown) and left a message for the agent to make an appointment to present our offer, I sat down for a last pre-weekend update on my most important searches.  There, it caught my eye: a brand-new listing, still without pictures but a promising description.  A 7-bedroom, 5-bath restored Victorian on a huge lot, beautiful open flow on the first floor with double parlors, library, an amazing kitchen and all the rest.  A registered historic resource.  A lot bigger than the bungalow, and just what we had been looking for.  (And did I mention it was priced lower by more than $100k?)

I sent an email to my buyers, "we must see this."from the Historic Town of Takoma Park archive

"I agree," the wife said. 

"Hold our offer until we've seen it," said the husband.

His wife and I saw the house on Monday.  She was no longer interested in the other one.

The husband wasn't convinced -- until I took him there on Tuesday.  By Wednesday, we had met half the sellers' family and neighbors and found out how much they all had in common (including a love for wine and identical looking Golden Retrievers).  Thursday morning we received a call that another offer had been written and would be presented "tonight."

"Please wait for us," I begged.

"We will," said the listing agent.

Another hour later, she let us know that the other party was having a pre-offer inspection that day.  Another five hours later, we had an inspection as well.  On Friday, we found ourselves in a suspense-laden, 3-hour bidding war.  It was "just like 2005" all over again, said the agent with a sigh as she was going back and forth between the parties.

We won!!!  On top of that, this goes straight to the Top Three of the Coolest Places I Ever Sold.  My buyer emailed me a photograph of the house taken in 1911.  (Image courtesy of the Historic Takoma Inc Archives).

The SAD agent never called me back.  In the meantime, she also listed her house for rent.  She is asking about double the average rent for the neighborhood, plus a whole lot of other unreasonable conditions. If she doesn't actually want to sell, then she certainly doesn't actually want to rent, either.  I guess nobody is worthy of her home.  Today, she had another ad in the paper, another open house.  Another audition for a new cast of buyers.  Boy, am I glad I've left the set. 

Update on May 5, 2008:  I tried to take pictures of the house yesterday, but the tall trees in front obscure the view.  The MLS picture (left) was taken before they leafed out completely; it shows nearly the same view as the historic picture. 


 The picture on the right shows the side (now the official entrance).


© 2012, Catarina Bannier


Comment balloon 20 commentsCatarina Bannier • April 27 2008 11:12PM


It just goes to show that even agents can be unrealistic when it comes to buying and selling. Unfortunately everyone who buys a big ticket item involves emotion in their purchase. Leaving you emotions inside before the sale/purchase is the best practice. However, it is very hard to actually do in real life. As humans we attach feelings to just about everything and have a difficult time letting go. Good Post.

Posted by Ulises Romo (Realty One Group) over 10 years ago
Ulises -- you're so right.  I'm usually even emotional about the houses I'm dealing with in this business--and I don't even pay for them!
Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago
Congratulations to you and your buyers. Seems like this is the house that was meant to be for them. Looks like a terrific home from the historic photo - would love to see a pic from today. Great job!
Posted by Jim Albano, Team - Jean-Marie Vantuno / Realtors North Jersey Real Estate (Prudential Damiano Realty ) over 10 years ago

Hey Catrina,

Good for you, congrats to you all. Too bad the agent/owner is so clueless, shooting herself in the foot I would say.

Posted by Lynda Eisenmann, Broker-Owner,CRS,CDPE,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co (Preferred Home Brokers) over 10 years ago
Congratulations to you on the sale.  Sounds like no matter how nice and professional you would have been to the Seller/Agent you wouldn't have gotten the home.  I'm glad to hear that your buyers won the bid on the other home.  I love it when this happens.  Guaranteed the Seller/Agent needs to get real or like you indicated she won't be renting it either.
Posted by Selling Homes in Western New York, Licensed Real Estate Broker, Terri Kern, Terri Kern, Broker, Turning Key Realty (Turning Key Realty) over 10 years ago

Well, you got a good deal for your clients. you may have never got the other one to get to where it could be making sense anyway.

Good for you,

Posted by Jon Zolsky, Daytona Beach, FL, Buy Daytona condos for heavenly good prices (Daytona Condo Realty, 386-405-4408) over 10 years ago

Hi Catarina...Looks like you found a home that I would have liked also.  Good for you and your clients.

If I have a chance I might look for it on MRIS. 

It was good that you did that one last search.


P.S.  Welcome to the Rain.

Posted by Kate Elim, Realtor 540-226-1964, Selling Homes & Land a (Dockside Realty) over 10 years ago
Yes, people can do whatever they want, but they are in the sign maintenance business not the business of selling homes.
Posted by Ross Quintana, Real E Smarter Real Estate Coach - 509-362-1966 (Real E Smarter) over 10 years ago

Everything happens for a reason.  It sounds like they ended up with the house they really wanted.  If the glass is half full, then the hurdles were in place to keep the buyer's from committing to the other house -- which they would have ended up regretting.  I bet you're glad you did that search, aren't you?  Just imagine if you didn't!

LOL, you should send a thank you present to SAD.  A little thanks for her being so unrealistic! :) 

Posted by Jesse Barron, REALTOR® - Real Estate Made Easy™ in Anne Arundel County, MD (Keats & Co. Real Estate, LLC) over 10 years ago

Jim -- thanks!  I'll post a new picture in the next couple of days, when I had a chance to swing by (not sure I'm allowed to take them from the MLS)

Lynda -- that's a good way to put it.  I'm still curious to see how it ends up for her.

Terry and Jon -- I think you're right; there really wasn't much of a chance that this could have worked.  And I'm really thrilled now!

Kate -- thanks for coming by, and yes, i'm so glad I checked one more time...

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago
Catarina - Great story! Great outcome. Sometimes things work out just as they were meant to.
Posted by Robin Sherman, Search Pensacola Homes, For Sale - Pensacola FL Neighborhoods ( - Grand Points Realty) over 10 years ago

Ross -- Sign Maintenance, that's pretty funny.  A couple of people have been suggesting that her real game is to use the house to pick up new buyers.  "Oh, I'm sorry.  This is a little out of your price range?  Well, here is a list of more reasonably priced homes in this neighborhood.  I'll be happy to show them to you later today..."

Jesse -- My buyers have actually been joking about this as well.  She just had to be crazy.  Otherwise they would have missed out on their new house!  Thanks, "SAD."

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago
Robin -- yes.  It doen't happen all the time, but when it does, it really restores my faith.
Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago
Caterina, that is just too cool!  And the photo is pretty amazing - looks sort of like turn of the last century!  And I'm so glad you won the bidding war!  Looks like a fabulous house.  
Posted by Patricia Kennedy, Home in the Capital (RLAH Real Estate) over 10 years ago
Act and Scene !     Sounds like you found them a much better place to live anyway!  They will thank you and I am sure you saved yourself a ton of headaches.  Even if your offer was accepted; I can only imagine how the rest of the transaction would have gone...
Posted by James Downing - Metro DC Houses Team REALTORS®, CRS, GRI, ABR,MRP, MilRes, When Looking to Buy or Sell - Make the Right Move (Real Living | At Home) over 10 years ago

Pat, yes, I love it.  It's probably late 1800s.  We'll try to research its history, as we have heard some interesting stories from the neighbors.

James--I was thinking the same, it would have been a real challenge... still so curious how it's going to continue, though.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago
Congratulations! I love historic homes and this one sounds and looks fabulous! What a terrific job you did for your buyers. :)
Posted by Kelly Sibilsky (Licensed Through Referral Connection, LTD.) over 10 years ago

Kelly -- thanks!  I still want to drive by and take some "today" pictures, just haven't had the chance yet.

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago

Catarina, I just love the way you write!  This was a fun story to read, both parts.  Congratulations on your new team effort with Patricia in the makeover contest!!!!!!!! 

Posted by Natalie Langford, Winchester, VA Real Estate (Realty Negotiations) over 10 years ago

Natalie--thanks so much! I'm looking forward to spending some time on your blog soon!  (And by the way, my favorite contractor moved to Winchester a couple of years ago, and I have always known that he must have had a good reason ;-)

Posted by Catarina Bannier, DC Real Estate The Smart And Fun Way (Compass) over 10 years ago