War Story: Karma Wins (Not for the Faint of Heart)

We continue to get great responses from our call for real estate war stories. The following, from Betsy, of West Seattle certainly ranks as the strangest one that we’ve received. While it might be strange, its certainly interesting, and Betsy makes an excellent point about how a good connection with the seller can sometimes be even more important than the final offer price. Take it away Betsy!

It took us two years to find our dream house: enough bedrooms for our family and home office, plus enough yard for my vegetables and my husband Jerry’s dream orchid greenhouse. The house was only on the
market for four days. We visited every day, managing to corner the owner each time and barrage him with questions about the property.

Betsy’s House:
Betsys  house.jpg

I wrote a lovely letter outlining our hopes for the house and including a picture of our children. When we made a bid, there were eight competing offers. Our agent came back to us and said, “They have two questions for you. One, would you be willing to give them the washer & dryer? And they want you to know that their daughter’s placenta is buried under the apple tree. You just need to know that.”

Jerry and I looked at each other and burst out laughing. We both told our agent: “Our son’s placenta is buried under our fig tree!” Bill grinned and sprinted back to the meeting room. Two seconds later shouts of laughter erupted from the meeting room and he came racing back. “Sign here, sign here, here’s the price, you’ve got the house.”

The sellers sold us the house at $65,000 more than the asking price — but our escalator went up to $87,000 more than the asking price. We could hear the other agent shrieking, “My client will pay more! My
client will pay more!!” (Our strategy was — we had an escalator clause of a very weird number, something like $1,118, and we had a very high (for us) ceiling). The other person was willing to top $487,000, but the seller chose us because of the placenta.

This was a case of absolute karma — the sellers were the kind of people we would have liked to have hung out with. They wanted US to have the house, not because we could pay top dollar, but because we clearly respected the craftsmanship of the house and wanted to treat it with love for the next 30 years.

We’ve been in the house for almost a year and every time I drive up our road, I pray to myself, “Please let our house still be there, please let it still be there.” We love it that much.

Thanks Betsy, for your story and example of how even the obscure can make the difference when it comes to winning the bid on the perfect house. As a thank you, Betsy gets dinner at her favorite restaurant on us. Got a great war story? Send it on to eric (dot) heller (at) redfin (dot) com — we’ll post it up and send you out for dinner as well!