The Jailbird

I went on a listing appointment recently. The couple seemed to get along ok when I was there with them for our initial meeting.  However, what I found out later is that they were far from OK.

They failed to mention that they were in the middle of a divorce, they failed to mention that there was a restraining order against the husband (Mark), they failed to mention that the wife (Julie) had already moved out and was paying for the house as well as rent somewhere else. They failed to mention how volatile the husband was. They failed to mention that there was a history of domestic violence and abuse.  They failed to mention that Julie was not safe.

The couple did agree to sell the house, and both of them signed the paperwork to list the house. We found a buyer, and agreed upon the terms of the contract. Of course, it wouldn’t be a simple sales process though. 

The first hurdle was setting the sales price.  Mark wanted to sell the house for more money than the market sales indicated.  We had many discussions about how he needed the money so that he could move.  Julie was paying for 2 places to live and wanted to sell quickly.  Mark was not working, about to lose his free housing, and was not motivated to sell at all.  The only motivation that he had was that at closing he would get a lump sum of cash.  I would learn to use that lump sum of cash as a reminder for Mark throughout the next 45 days.  We did get the price set, and we did get a buyer under contract. That meant that the home selling process was in full swing.

The next hurdle was the home inspection.  Based on the findings of the home inspector, the buyer wanted the sellers to make some repairs.  Julie was agreeable as she just wanted to get the house sold.  However, Mark was not so helpful. He was living in the house for free while Julie paid for the house payment and all utilities.  He saw his free ride coming to an end.  He didn’t have a plan of where he would go next.  Therefore he was not willing to help make the process go smoothly.  He yelled and screamed on the phone.  He cussed and hung up on me.  Generally speaking, Mark was a jerk.

The deadline to get the repairs negotiated was midnight on a Tuesday.  After many heated phone calls (and me constantly reminding him that he was going to get a lump sum of money on closing day), Mark had verbally agreed to give $250 off the sales price. Everyone else had agreed to Mark’s terms as it was “his way or the highway”.  Around 4pm, the agreement was signed between all parties except for the Mark.  He had stopped answering his phone. He was not home. Without Mark’s signature on the agreement, the buyers’ only option is to terminate the contract before midnight.  All afternoon and evening, I periodically called Mark, and then updated the buyer’s agent.  Around 11pm, Mark finally calls to tell me that he is home if I want to meet to sign the papers.  The buyer’s agent lived closer than I did, so she agreed to go get Mark’s signature.  However, she certainly doesn’t trust him, and she understands how volatile his temperament is, plus it’s almost midnight, so she brings along her husband.  They get to his house around 11:30pm to get the paper signed.  She called me from her car. She tells me that she is rolling the window down so that she can hear what’s happening, but she is sending her husband to the front door to actually meet Mark to sign the document.  She is scared.  She wants me to assure her that I will call 911 if anything happens.  So, I stayed on the phone with her as she gave me the play-by-play of the event.  Thank goodness there were no issues – Mark signed it and made some crummy remarks – but didn’t threaten anyone or cause a scene.

Hoping that things would now go smoothly, we continue through the process.  Unfortunately the appraiser flagged an issue with the home, there were no city permits pulled when the garage conversion was completed. That meant that before we could move forward, the sellers would have to apply for a permit with the city, have a city inspector come out, and then complete any needed repairs.  The problem with this is that the city inspector needs to see the work BEHIND the walls such as electrical work and HVAC ducts.  That meant that the sellers had to cut 12x12 squares in the sheetrock for inspection.  Then after everything had passed inspection, complete the sheetrock repair and repaint. As you may have guessed, Mark was very unhappy that he was having to do more work on the house. He threatened the appraiser. He yelled and screamed on the phone. He told me he would “put a cap in that appraiser’s ass”.  He was belligerent.  Then he went to jail.

The good news about Mark being in jail is that it presented the opportunity for me to meet the city inspector, and the handyman, and help to get the city permits completed.  Julie had given me permission to facilitate the repairs and she paid for them out of her own pocket without asking Mark for anything.  I spent many hours working with various people to help get the house fixed.  I helped to move the aggressive pit bulls from the house to the yard and back again so that contractors could get work done.  At least things were moving toward a successful sale as far as the house was concerned.

The bad news about Mark being in jail is that we needed his signatures on some documents.  I never knew that the Dallas County Jail had a secretary on each floor of the jail to handle paperwork for the inmates.  However, I got connected to the right secretary where I could fax the paperwork to Mark.  I also sent him a handwritten note encouraging him to sign the paper so that he could get the money from the sale of the home soon.  The response that I received the next day was classic.  Mark sent me back a fax that said he would sign the papers if I would bail him out of jail.  I wasn’t even sure what he was in jail for at the time, nor did I care.  However, I was definitely not planning to bail him out of jail just to get his signature.

We proceeded toward the closing, with Mark sitting in jail.  We did as much as we could without his signature. While Julie never said exactly what had happened that landed Mark in jail, she eluded that it was due to the restraining order she had against him.  She told me that she wasn’t safe, even with the restraining order. She said he had come up to her job.  She said he was threatening people.


Mark was finally release from jail just in time to come to the title company to sign the paperwork needed. We made arrangements for Julie to sign the papers at a different time and location from Mark.  We made sure that the buyers signed on a different day and time.  Mark was the last one to sign any papers at all.  When he did show up to sign the paperwork, he threatened the title company employees and almost went to jail again.  However, the promise of him getting his money finally tipped the scale so that he would sign the closing documents.  The closing on the sale was complete.  Mark took his money and never looked back.



**All of our stories are true, but the names have been changed to protect our clients**

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