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The Ledger - EST. 1978 - Nashville Edition

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VOL. 37 | NO. 29 | Friday, July 19, 2013

Tangled web can snare unsuspecting buyers

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The residential real estate world, like many industries, is its own ecosystem, complete with snakes, swine and scum. Not all real estate agents are Realtors, and Realtors are held to a higher standard, especially as ethics go.

But even then, there are arachnids spinning their webs, attempting to snare unsuspecting buyers as they buzz around their web, aka listings.

Even the charming Charlotte of Charlotte’s Web fame was prone to suck the life out of a fly or two when her stomach growled.

In fairness, the agency relationship is quite complicated, and buyer’s agents are particularly susceptible to the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

When a buyer enters into a relationship with an agent, both parties agree to perform certain tasks in order to keep the relationship alive.

The agent agrees to make the buyers aware of certain properties that meet the parameters the buyer has delivered to the agent, such as bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, lot size, price, schools, etc.

In agreeing to work with that buyer, the agent is forsaking all others, as the vow goes, and providing the buyer with properties that meet the criteria provided. In a market as low in inventory as Nashville, it is not uncommon for buyers to become frustrated when their agents are not able find the properties they desire.

In this situation, the barbarians are at the gate, using any tool necessary to lure the naïve away from those under contract to protect them.

As one might expect, this swine may have a number of ancillary pigs in its poke. Even with all of the regulatory oversight, there are lenders that provide legal funds with unforeseen consequences.

And the pigs may share the leftovers with the rats. A loan with an enormous prepayment penalty allows the lender to reap huge profits since that prepayment penalty might not show its ugly head until the buyer decides to sell.


A homeowner could go to closing with no warning that a $20,000 prepayment penalty lurks.

As the brilliant songwriter Don Schlitz wrote in his lyrics to the song “She Deserves You,” made famous by Baillie and the Boys:

And if she wants a man

Who’ll take the ring off of his hand

And then turn around and say that he’ll be true

Then she deserves you.

Although Don did not know it at the time, he penned an ode to real estate predators.

Sale of the week

The sale of the week represents opposite ends of the real estate spectrum, with both buyer and seller represented by the Wilson Group, each with their own agent.

Christie Wilson, the principal broker for her firm, purchased the company in 2008, which she is quick to note was “the worst year in real estate ever.” The irony of the purchase is that she acquired the corporation from her father, the late Hal Wilson, the firm’s founder.


Hal Wilson is a real estate legend and was prior to his death in 2010 following an extended battle with cancer. He bought and sold thousands of houses over his storied career, often owning more than 100 properties at any given period. His reputation was founded on his uncanny intuition and the knack for buying low and selling high.

Even when selling his firm to his daughter, his timing was perfect. The Wilson family is well known in real estate circles for its integrity and fair dealings, and Christie, while increasing the size of her company substantially, continues to run a tight and ethical ship.

One of her group, Alicia Griffith, one of a number of Wilson Group inductees to win the Rookie of the Year from the Greater Nashville Association of Realtors, listed the Tudor home at 4609 Nebraska Avenue for $449,000. It has 2,690 square feet, 402 of which are in the basement.

Griffith is one Rookie of the Year who has avoided and evaded the sophomore slump and continues to improve each year.

Griffith noted that the house was close to the golf course, greenway and Sylvan Park Elementary, and it includes four bedrooms and two full baths along with a half bath.

Some of the floors were carpet and some tile with a bit of hardwood in some areas, hence the price per square foot coming in a bit under the area. The original price of $467,000 was reflective of the going price per square foot for renovated homes and new construction.

The house remained on the market only 59 days before selling for $425,000.

Richard Courtney is a partner with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com