Yesterday was Don’s birthday. He would have been 66. Twenty-year-old and I went out for pizza (our usual Thursday night fare) and to remember Daddy, but first, I took the mail in. There were two hand-addressed envelopes addressed to me.
Now, I think I mentioned that I’d gone to probate court last week. Don and I had nearly all of our property in both of our names, except for our piece of the family cabin in Idaho, which was only in Don’s name (which was fair, after all, it’s his family’s cabin). That meant that I did actually have to do some probate filing which is different from just filing the will. As soon as I opened the first letter, I knew what was going on.
My name is misspelled in the header. You’d think someone trolling court records could get that part right, but never mind. The letter from Fine Metro Homes went on to extend the writer’s sincere condolences on the passing of my husband’s full name, Sr. He never used Sr. Ever. And then it launched into the offer to buy my house. Right away! No inspection needed! Cash in seven days! Wow! What a burden lifted! As if!!
Although I can’t decide which letter was more offensive, because the other letter, from Express Homebuyers, actually has a packet of aspirin stapled to it. It begins “Here’s a headache-free way to sell inherited real setae in 30 days or less” (Yes, they did the bold type, too). Gee, what a relief! I was just thinking, “What am I going to do with my home of 16 years?!”
Apart from the audacity of approaching me in my grief, and assuming that I want to get rid of my house – MY HOUSE – the thing that pisses me off about this is the predatory nature of it. They both extoll the virtues of their willingness to purchase my house as-is – no inspections, no appraisals, no repairs, no realtor commissions. One letter even says that they’ll “…Take the property off [my] hands…” creating the illusion that it’s somehow a burden to own property. What humanitarians these guys are!
So at a time when people are most vulnerable, they’re going after what may be these people’s most valuable assets. Don’t get a realtor involved! Right, because a realtor’s job is to get you the best price possible for your property. That’s why you pay a commission. The realtor is, among other things, your advocate. These guys send these letters, and pretend to be on the side of the bereaved, but they are out for something.
Even if I did want to sell my property, I wouldn’t do it like this. How could I possibly know that I was getting the true value of my property if I didn’t get an appraisal?
Court records are public records and that’s fine. People have a right to search them. But I really have a problem with predators. There are commandments about taking advantage of widows and orphans. And stealing. I’m fairly certain about that one, I remember translating it from Deuteronomy. And do not steal.
If you move in during a person’s time of grief, and you do all sorts of smooth talking, and you tell someone, “Don’t worry about all those appraisals and realtors, I’m offering you cash right now!”, that really smacks of stealing to me. If I want to sell my house, you’re welcome to speak to my realtor, who represents me, and make your offer.
In my theology, I think these guys will eventual have some questions to answer. I don’t think God will be pleased with this. But here and now, I am not pleased with this. I know it’s not illegal. We have free will. It’s just wrong.
Update: Tuesday, 10 September, 2013:
Well, on Saturday I got another letter from Express Homebuyers. This one had worry dolls attached. It was waiting for me upon my return from Colorado Springs. This after I had called and asked them to leave me alone. So I called them again yesterday, and this time I asked to speak to the person whose robo-signature was on the letter. Today I got two phone calls back.
I give Brad a lot of credit. His name isn’t the name on the letter, but he called me, because he’s the one who put the other guy’s name on the letters. He’s in charge of the mailings. And I give him credit because he told me that he read this blog post, and that as soon as he did, he called their direct mail company, and asked them to remove me from their list. In spite of this, I got another letter on Saturday. Brad was very apologetic.
Brad took the time to listen to me. He said that they try to be sensitive with their letters, and that clearly they could do better. So I gave him some suggestions about how he might do better.
I’m still not going to sell my house. I still think it’s a better idea to use a realtor. But I’m glad to know there are folks who listen.