In my 20 or so years in the real-estate and mortgage-financing business, I have been asked many questions regarding real-estate and mortgage-financing issues, whether from sellers, buyers, or homeowners needing information or assistance with short- and long-term planning. After so many years in the industry, I have many unusual and entertaining stories to share with you, so this ongoing column will feature stories and anecdotes that will enlighten many people about what is often considered a confusing yet important part of owning real estate.
Many people have asked me, “What is the craziest real estate deal you ever had?” Although there have been dozens of crazy stories to tell over so many years, my thoughts always go back to the wildest deal (or should I say a wheeler deal) that came my way more than 15 years ago, when the average price of a house in the Five Towns was $200,000–250,000, and high taxes meant you paid over $5,000 a year.
One sunny afternoon, I showed a customer a magnificent mansion in Lawrence with an asking price of over $1 million (an obscene amount at that time for a house not in Beverly Hills. Lawrence homes were starting at $200,000 back then). This was a beauty on a large property, with a carriage house next to a three-car garage in the back of the property.
My dream became a reality as he made an offer for $1 million with no mortgage contingency and a proposed closing date in 30 days from the contract, which was happily accepted by the seller.
We all danced our way to the contract table (most contracts were sit-downs back then—unheard of today), each of us dreaming of the prize we had gotten: the buyer his dream house, the seller his money, and me a commission that ordinarily would take me a year to make.
We sat at the contract table — the seller, the seller’s attorney, and me — waiting for the buyer and the buyer’s attorney to arrive. We wait and wait and, lo and behold, in walks the buyer with no attorney, but in his hands he is holding a certified check for $100,000. With a smile, he says, “Don’t worry; I don’t need an attorney here — it’s only a contract. I can read it to him over the phone.”
Never heard of that before, but OK, he had his down payment, so there was no cause for alarm. Everybody shrugged their shoulders and signed the contract, and the seller’s attorney took the certified check. Congratulations were offered all around, and we left.
Everything sounds great so far, right? It’s not a problem till it’s a problem, and, yesiree, that problem came home three days later when a call came in from the seller’s attorney. “Hello, are you there? The $100,000 certified check bounced!”
I remarked to the seller’s attorney, “Who ever heard of a certified check bouncing?”
The seller’s attorney replied, “Not me!”
The buyer said, “It has to be a mistake. Redeposit it; I already called the bank.”
This time, the seller’s attorney asked his bank to look into how a certified check can bounce. None of us could figure it out; we had never heard of something like this.
Well, are you all waiting to hear what the end was? It was worth the wait.
It seems the bank that the certified check was drawn on was closed for at least 10 years. How this guy got the checks and tools to certify a check from there, I never found out. In addition, he was wanted by Interpol for another international scam (he created a nonexistent village in Europe and sold timeshares to people in the U.S.).
So, the moral of the story is? There is no moral; at times, truth is more unbelievable than fiction.
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and a licensed N.Y.S. loan officer (FM Home Loans) with over 20 years of experience offering full-service residential, commercial, and management real-estate services as well as mortgage services. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa@AVCrealty.com.