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01-15-2013 05:31 PM
To my fellow buyers, I wanted to pass along my experince with a seller. Hopefully you will find it informative. I am curious if anyone else has had a similar experience:
I purchased my home, the first home I have ever purchased, through Griffin Residential in 2011. It was a terrible experience and will forever taint my memories of my first home. Before I elaborate on my experience, I want to note that Ian R. Griffin owns Griffin Residential and he purchases foreclosed homes through Rancho Horizon LLC. He also has a constellation of LLCs: Inland Realty, Phoenix Realty, Griffin Real Estate, and GRIFFIN RESIDENTIAL that has the motto of: “I n t e g r i t y · V i s i o n · E x c e l l e n c e.”
From the moment we put in the offer, there was nothing but difficulty when dealing with them. They stipulated a 30-day escrow and said I would be charge $100 dollars per day if I were to cause it to go longer. However, they could not make the 30-day deadline and kept asking for escrow extensions. When I went to have the house inspected, the lock-box was missing and I was informed, "…there was a miscommunication" in their office. I ordered my appraisal on time and the house appraised for 310,000. However, when it came to them ordering their appraisal they dragged their feet. Apparently, when their appraiser showed up to inspect the home, the lock-box was again gone. When their appraisal did come in, it oddly enough, came-in right at the price they wanted: 318,000. However, upon review of the appraisal, it was noted that the square footage was incorrect, the address was incorrect on several pages, the schematic of the homes footprint was incorrect, and it said a refrigerator was included - which it was not. However, there was that pesky issue of the first appraisal of 310,000. To this, they filed a challenge to the 310,000. It was denied. The next tactic was to see if I would pay some additional outside of the loan of 310,000 or the deal was off. We decided that we would honor our original offer of 313,500. However, this was just not good enough: they needed 314,000. We did not budge on our price, so they asked my agent to lower his fees to squeeze out that extra 500. He did that and then we had to wait 3-weeks for them to perform the repairs the home inspector had found. The repairs were finally done after 3- weeks and another request for an extension. We then had to wait a week for Cornerstone Escrow, oddly located at the same address as Griffin Real Estate, to get the escrow documents and closing costs estimates. When we finally did get the HUD 1, it was incorrect. On the HUD 1, we were charged for the extensions! There were additional issues with it as well such as an incorrect property tax amount. Once again, just a silly little mistake we were told and it would be corrected. In the mean time, we can wait for the revision. This was towards the end of the month (like 3-4 days) so Griffin put the screws to us: we, they decided, had to get everything on our side done within 3-days to close by October - they could not wait. Everything had to be rushed. I had to sign the loan docs at night and then they were driven to Cornerstone Escrow (did I mention that they are located at the same address as "Griffin Residential.") Cornerstone was going to stay open late for us, thanks Griffin! The next morning I had to wire money to them - a cashier's check was just too slow - and it HAD to be in by 11AM! What do you know, when we were in charge it was done, and we made the 11AM deadline. Then, a messenger was dispatched to Los Angeles recorder's office to have the property deeded to us. We heard that we took possession of the home at 5PM and went up to the house to get the keys and, wait for it: the lock-box was gone. My agent called Griffin and they informed us that the key was taped to the water meter and we could get it from there. I went and got the key for MY FIRST HOME from behind some electrical tape on the water meter: "I n t e g r i t y, V i s i o n, E x c e l l e n c e."
In my opinion, they are an evil company and I would never engage in a deal with them again.
01-15-2013 06:31 PM
I dunno, If this is truly "evil" you've got a pretty high sensitivity to evil. What would you have called them if they'd defrauded you of your life's savings, or sold you a death trap filled with asbestos and plutonium dust?
It sounds to me like they just weren't paying serious attention to their deal with you (which is clearly low budget, not something on which they likely made much money), and also made the odd clumsy attempt to nickel and dime a little bit more out of you. You, on the other hand, were focussed laserlike on the details, double-checked their work as well as your own, made sure you hit deadlines even if they didn't, and stood your ground when they tried to push you around a little. Congratulations on a demonstraion of first-class character.
Now, as a consequence, you've got your first home, and at the price you wanted to pay -- plus, admittedly, a few weeks you didn't anticipate (being a n00b) of modest aggravation and anxiety between bid and closing.
Maybe instead of outrage that the world isn't perfect, and people aren't 100% as honest and altruistic and detail-oriented as one might hope, you can sit back and bask in the glow of negotiating a third of a million dollar deal with tenacity and intelligence, and coming out on top. Life is good. Not perfect, mind you. But pretty darn good. Don't you think?
01-15-2013 10:53 PM - edited 01-15-2013 10:55 PM
Please thank your realtor for putting $500 of their commission into the deal. It was something they could have pushed back on but they wanted to help you and hopefully represented your interests well during the process.
01-16-2013 05:50 AM
Seneca: could not disagree more strongly. Why is it up to the consumer to be constantly fighting against fraud and graft and greed and mendacity and trickery and double-dealing with businesses that are doing business in the public domain and getting paid for it? What happens to someone who doesn't have the time, money, energy etc to double -check all the details and stand up against the bullies? Isn't buying a home in this market difficult enough without the Griffin Residentials of this world? And where are the consequences for these companies? Just profits and more profits?
I'm trying to imagine any other business or service offered in the US that is so fraught with minefields or pitfalls as the RE business. I'm totally comfortable with buyer beware and due diligence and all that, but piting the ordinary guiless individual against professional rip-off artists and expecting it to be a fair contest? Hardly!
01-17-2013 11:39 AM
It's up to the consumer to protect his interests because they're his interests. Who would you suggest look after the interests of the consumer? Some Big Daddy with a stick and a gun somewhere? You want to empower some state or Federal agency, say -- a bunch of snotty lawyers 500 or 3,000 miles away over whom you have exactly zero influence -- to come and poke around in your deals and affairs, and have the power to set things "right" any way they see fit? Have you thought through all the consequences of giving that kind of power over your affairs to strangers? What happens when they decide what you think of as just getting a good deal is actually "fraud and graft and greed and mendacity" on your part? A sword has two edges, you know.
You speak with contempt about profits, but you are terribly and tragically mistaken. Profits are wonderful for the consumer because they give him awesome power over the seller that he can't get any other way. Think this through a little. What is more certain and swift punishment for a bad real estate agent than...having all the people looking to buy houses shun him? How is he going to make any money? He can't. Because his livelihood depends on him convincing buyers to voluntarily hire him, buyers can punish him -- by withholding their money -- any time they choose, for any reason or none, and there is no appeal from this decision. Every buyer is his own Supreme Court, making decisions the way he sees fit, and with no possibility of overrule or appeal.
There is no system of regulation or law that you could possibly set up that would be as efficient and powerful. No judge would ever see things as much as you do, nor have the time and energy to put into understanding your case as you have, nor as zealously guard your own interests as you will. No system of regulation and rule put in place by the legislature could possibly be as flexible and sophisticated as the pattern of judgment you have in your own head. Any system of legal punishment would inevitably have avenues for appeal, take years,, require costly participation by experts you don't fully understand -- lawyers, expert witnesses, appeals judges -- and have outcomes far less certain and swift as -- you just taking your money elsewhere, and depriving the agent of a portion of his income.
Profit is great stuff. Profit and greed enslave the few and the wealthy to the wishes of the many and not so wealthy. The only problem comes in when a corporation or wealthy man pleases most people and most customers -- but not all, and in particular not you. Then you'll be upset, because he won't pay attention to your complaints. He won't give a hoot about little ol' you -- if you are only one of 2 or 3 upset customers, and he's got 9,875 fully satisfied customers elsewhere.
But then your real problem isn't the corporation or wealthy man. Your problem is your fellow customers don't agree with you. You're out ot step. Your complaints are not widely shared. So why should anybody else care about them?
As for the minefields and pitfalls of real estate: give me a break. You only think that's true because you live a coddled existence. You're not aware of what it takes to get stuff done on a massive scale -- to found and run corporations, maintain all the services on which you depend daily -- water, sewer, fire, roads, bridges, electricity, security -- hire and fire and manage people, raise capital, figure out how to spread it, write, interpret and enforce contracts, and so on. It's very likely, in the modern age, you just get up in the morning, turn on the tap (out of which magically flows clean water), drive to work (in a car that just nearly always simply works, on roads that you have no idea how to build or maintain or keep safe), and hang out in your cubicle or office, doing work that's set in front of you, and punching out at 5pm. You're profoundly sheltered from the chaos and uncertainty -- the minefields and pitfalls -- of the great complex business of getting, say, the 15 million people who live in LA to work together reasonably harmoniously so we can all live a billion times more comfortable than cavemen.
Participating in the real estate market is dipping your toe in this world, the much bigger world of deals and large capital flows that goes on all around you, and of which you are generally unaware. Rather that bitch about how nasty it is, you might be grateful that this kind of nastiness which is the natural way of things is so well confined by modern society that you only have to deal with it when buying and selling your house.
01-20-2013 03:26 AM
And, one of the ways consumers protect themselves is by making sure people know of underhanded and duplictious practices so that others don't make the mistake of doing business with those who practice them. That's a HELL of a lot more helpful than having some demented stranger yelling at you on a message board because you have the audacity to be offended by blatant incompetence and duplicity.
So, run along Uncle Tom of the RE world. You watch out for yourself. The rest of us will be sharing our experiences and trying to help each other avoid the pitfalls of the unscrupulous businesses.