We’ll discuss a recent case study of how bad neighbors can harm probate real estate sale, and how to deal with them.
Bad neighbor blames estate for water leak
I am the professional executor for an estate with real estate that needs to be sold. During this process, we’ve had a neighbor with complaints.
First, the neighbor blamed our unit for a water leak. He had water damage in his unit, and he thought it was coming from us. Water damage can lead to mold issues, so we took the complaint seriously. We responded immediately and gave him access to a plumber.
The real estate is in a co-op building, which, as we discussed before, are a different animal! In this situation, the co-op manager appreciated our fast response to the problem.
As it turns out, the bad neighbor was blaming us for no reason. It had nothing to do with our unit, and the water issue was completely internal to his unit.
Bad neighbor blames estate for insects
Second, the bad neighbor blamed us for a sudden infestation of bugs in his unit. His theory was that when we cleaned out our unit, something was shaken which caused bugs to move to his unit. We took the complaint seriously again and responded by giving him access to an exterminator of his choosing.
When selling probate real estate, you need to try to get along with the neighbors and building management. Getting off on the wrong foot with building management can make things very difficult for the executor. Even though we felt that the neighbor was not being truthful (as we saw no indication of bugs in our unit), we responded promptly. Again, the co-op manager appreciated our fast response to the problem.
It turns out that the bad neighbor cried wolf again. The neighbor’s hired exterminator was so dismissive of the neighbor’s theory that he didn’t even bother to spray our unit. Even though the cost of spraying would have been low, the exterminator said there was no point.
Despite all of this, the bad neighbor threatened to block our probate sale by lobbying the co-op board to not allow our unit to sell. However, the co-op saw that the neighbor lied twice and that we had been cooperative throughout the process. Thankfully, we did not need to worry about the board preventing our sale.
Bad neighbor sends us a “buyer”
Those were the last of the complaints, but oddly enough, the bad neighbor sent us a buyer. He suggested selling to someone, so we looked into it. The bad neighbor “vouched” for an “investor,” which is odd because investors usually don’t do well with co-op rules.
The buyer turned out to be an inexperienced kid (late teens, early 20s) who apparently saw on Tik Tok how to flip probate properties. The kid offered a wildly high offer, which is unlikely to actually close at that price. As we’ve discussed before, if a wildly high offer does go through, it’s because the buyer nickel-and-dimes the price down to the asking price. This strategy is used to get the buyer’s foot in the door by making an attractive offer and thus eliminating the competition. (link to E291 What is a Strong Offer on Probate Real Estate?)
In this case, the heirs had been tracking the situation and understood that this buyer was recommended by the bad neighbor. Therefore, they were not bamboozled into demanding that we accept this “high” offer, like they might have been if they did not know the back-story. The bad neighbor actually helped us with this bad buyer. If we didn’t know who sent him, it would have taken more time and research to know to reject the offer.
This is a situation where a professional executor can help buffer and deal with curveballs. An inexperienced executor may get bullied with empty threats of blocking the sale, etc. Professional executors know what to look for and can help the heirs avoid the stress of threats. We continued to address the false alarms and adjusted our treatment of the bad neighbor accordingly.
To learn how a professional executor can help you avoid probate headaches, check out my book, “How to Hire an Executor,” available on Amazon.
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