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By sonnypage
June 24, 2008

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Everyone here on our METAR board knows by now that my wife and I are Realtors, also associate brokers, who live and practice real estate north of Atlanta. This is the year of strange and bizarre goings on in real estate. That is, I suspect, because of all of the stress in the economy.

We met Candace for the first time last November. Most of our business we generate ourselves from our own network of past clients and contacts. But Candace was the exception; she came to us through our corporate relocation department. We learned when we first met her that she and her boyfriend Carlos had bought this home together about four years ago for $850,000. Both of their names were on the deed. They had just split up and he had moved to Florida to take a new job. She would stay in Atlanta where her job was and try to sell this home.

It was a very nice home in a golf club community north of us up in Alpharetta. It featured a nice golf course view but unfortunately it had not been well maintained. We urged Candace to make some deferred maintenance repairs but we never got very far with that. She was reluctant to spend any money and we soon learned that her agreement with Carlos was that she got to keep all of whatever gain the home netted. That was also why, I suspect, that when we recommended listing for $900,000 she balked. That would only be slightly more than they paid. After real estate commissions she would actually barely break even. We showed her the comparables. We also explained again that deferred maintenance issues also meant a lower sales price, but she was having none of it. Candace insisted on listing for $1,025,000. Once again, this was a corporate listing, which means there are reasons I won't get into here why we could not just say no and refuse the listing. So, $1,025,000 it was.

Winter turned into spring and Candace grudgingly reduced to $975,000. My wife also learned one day, while talking with Candace, that Carlos now had a new home in Florida. Also, Carlos had apparently traded Candace in for a newer and younger model; he had a new live in girlfriend. We were never sure, had no reason to know, which of them was making the mortgage payments. Was it Carlos, Candace, or both of them together? Then, about two months ago, Candace lost her job.

Last week my wife had a call from Carlos. It was only the second time she had ever spoken with him. Most of our communication had been with Candace. Carlos said that he had been unable to reach Candace and wanted my wife to stop by and check. My wife also was unable to reach Candace on her cell phone, so she drove over and called Carlos when she got there. The home was essentially empty with only trash scattered about and a few junky pieces of furniture. On the counter in the kitchen, in plain view, was a receipt from an auction company. Everything of value had been sold and a check had been written to Candace for $6400. That was apparently all a house full of old furniture and electronics and other used items was worth. But again, that invoice had been left out in plain view for anyone to see. Was it intended that Carlos see it?

I need to give you one other little item of information for you to fully appreciate how exquisite and complete Candace's revenge was, and revenge I have little doubt it was. Hell truly has no fury like a woman scorned. Many states, California comes to mind, have non recourse foreclosure. That means what it says. If you walk away in California, that's it. Yes, you have a foreclosure on your record but that is the end of it. That, however, is not so in Georgia or other recourse states. Here a lender may go to court and obtain a "deficiency judgment", and that is just what it sounds like.

Carlos is faced with perhaps having to sell at a loss and making up the difference. If he walks and is foreclosed, then he faces the real likelihood of being sued and having his home in Florida, or his wages, attached. Candace has no other property to attach, no wages to garnish, she has in fact vanished and would not be worth the trouble for an attorney to track down, especially when Carlos is so easy to find and attach.

It gets even better, or worse, depending on your point of view. His listing expires next week. Legally, he can't extend the listing since both of their names are on the deed. They both, in fact, signed the original listing with us. But hold on, there is more. What if a full price offer were to come in tomorrow? Carlos can't accept it without Candace's signature as well as his own. Carlos' question to us was what should he do now. I called him back later that afternoon with the name of a good real estate attorney, one who does more than just closings. My best advice to him was get a lawyer. Until and if he can get this cleared up, there is absolutely nothing we as Realtors can do for him.

Make it a great week.