By Kim Murphy
Murphy & Murphy Southern California Realty 

Real Estate Round-Up: J is for jerk


Last updated 4/21/2021 at 11:25am

Over the 24 years I’ve sold real estate, I have often thought of writing a book about the many experiences I have had with clients, agents and other providers who work in the industry. I have resisted, because the stories that, after the fact, are the most interesting, are often about situations that were horrible as I was going through them.

Since this week’s letter is J, I decided to write about some of the jerks I’ve worked with and jerky experiences I’ve had.

All names will be changed to protect those jerks and jerky experiences, but it is time to share them.

The first jerky client we worked with was a real doozy. This couple entered escrow on a bank owned home. Needless to say, they got a screaming deal on the home. The thing is banks in 1998 were not fluent working their bank owned inventory. It would take days to get responses from the bank. The bank would expect immediate response from the buyers. This was all occurring in the month of December.

Decembers are always an emotional month to buy or sell a home. The bank asked for repeated extensions, and the buyers agreed to every extension the bank requested because the purchase price was exceptional. These delays, however, left the buyers in a hotel over the holidays. The escrow finally closed two weeks late and then the wheels came off the bus.

The buyers blamed us for their inconvenience and the depression they felt for having to not put-up Christmas decorations and not being able to give out the gifts they had bought for their family, because the gifts were packed for their move. This reaction was either jerkish or the clients were jerks, but none the less, we the Realtors, were at fault for the client’s transgressions.

A few years later, the market was really heating up. Homes were selling, buyers were buying. A client approached us to sell their home. As always, we negotiated a great price for them, but the buyer was contingent, and the sellers needed to purchase a home, and the home they wanted to purchase had a seller who also had to purchase something. It was crazy.

Sometimes, real estate is like spinning plates in the air as in a circus sideshow. You must keep spinning or they all fall down. During this craziness, my Dad passed away in Ohio. Chris remained here doing both our jobs to hold it all together. The original seller called our broker because she felt that Chris wasn’t responding as quickly as she was used to. She said she didn’t care if my Dad had died, she wanted to be taken care of. Jerkish behavior, right? The good thing is, by the time all the transactions had to close, I was back to work, and I ended up running around with lunch and drinks for everyone as they all exchanged homes.

More recently, I see the jerkish behavior show itself in very selfish ways or in ways where clients conveniently have amnesia over what they agree to. For us, it’s simple, if you said it, then do it, and don’t pretend you didn’t really mean it.

Also, try to remember that all the other people involved in the transaction are people too. There was an agent; he still practices real estate. We represented a buyer for one of his listings. It was during the time when a form had been

introduced to the transaction. Today, we no longer use the form, but at the time it was an addendum that addressed wood destroying pests. No sooner had we sent the offer over, and I realized we had not checked the box that connected the new addendum to the purchase agreement.

Chris immediately called the agent to explain that we had missed the checked box. The agent said no problem, we can take care of it in escrow. Ha! Boy did we take care of it in escrow. The agent had complete amnesia and Chris and Kim Murphy ended up footing a $3000 wood destroying pest invoice. Jerkish behavior at its best.

Imagine you’re the seller and you tell your Realtor that you have a central vac in your home. However, what you really meant was that the home was plumbed for central vac, but none of the equipment was installed. True, this really happened. The seller was an attorney and quite a wordsmith. In the closet there was the central vac hose and rods with the vacuum end of the equipment. We provided the seller with the proposed marketing of the property, which stated that central vac was an amenity of the home, for his approval. He approved it. The home sold and the buyer moved in.

They plugged the tools into the central vac receptacles, and nothing happened. Only then did we discover that there was no actual central vac motor. We contacted the seller and he said that he simply said that the home had central vac, and

he didn’t feel it was important to point out that there was no motor. Guess who paid for a new central vac motor. Chris and Kim Murphy. Jerk or jerkish behavior, I think both.

More recently, we discovered that an associated business we work with and have supported for years, had allowed someone else to negotiate terms that ignored the long-standing agreement we had with this business. Remember where I said, if you say it, you should do it, and not forget you said it. Well, this story has still not been fully played out.

We’re hoping for the best, but as I said in the beginning, there are jerks and there are those that exhibit jerkish behavior. Let’s hope this turns out to be the latter. Everyone makes mistakes, but in the end its about honoring your word.

So, knowing that there are many situations that bring out the worst in people, why continue to work in this profession for over 24 years? Because, first and foremost, these stories are exceptions to the rule. Most clients and Realtors are honest and sincere. Second, looking in the rear-view mirror, each of the above experiences made us better Realtors. We know the warning signs. We have learned to move on, and eventually laugh at the stories.

Here’s hoping you don’t have to interact with jerks or people with jerkish behavior, but mostly that you read these stories and realize that you don’t ever want to be either of them.

Kim Murphy can be reached at [email protected] or 760-415-9292 or at 130 N Main Avenue, in Fallbrook. Her broker license is #01229921, and she is on the board of directors for the California Association of Realtors.


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