"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em"

"You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em"


This bizarre real estate transaction came to me by way of co-worker referral. A never-ending story, the plot becomes more and more complicated as each month passes. Summarizing it in a way that would make sense to you, my casual reader, seems nearly impossible. Suffice to say that my conundrum has been whether or not to proceed in helping the seller.


This situation, which has been ongoing for some time, threatens to last much longer before the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. The reality exists that none of the participants to the deal will be paid at the end of the day. 


A tenacious person by nature, I tend to hang on until the bitter end. But recently, I've been deliberating whether walking away might not be the most sensible action at this juncture.


Our Ambassador, Gary Woltal, wrote a really accurate piece the other day entitled Avoid Costly Entanglements By Nipping Them in the Bud.  In it, he describes the toll that challenging people and situations can take on your business.


What makes my decision so difficult is that I'm tormented by the obligations I feel to my colleague, the homeowner and, most of all, the real estate attorney, who I involved in this scenario, long before I knew the full history of the purchase and attempted sale.


We had so little information before it became necessary to delve a bit deeper into this seller's financial and social responsibilities. The attorney, who has, no doubt, put in a hundred hours of research of his own, has far exceeded in time any payment he could possibly ever hope to recover. In a candid conversation, I asked him why he was still on the job and this is when he replied, it was "in the spirit of rachmones (compassion)."


I'm a firm believer in volunteering for a cause with no thought to how you can personally profit. I'm quite sure you're instantly disqualified from positive karma when you're wrestling with your own agenda. With this thought in mind, the solution to my problem seems even more out of focus. While rachmones may be the word of the day, I haven't yet adopted it as my own.


I'm sure most real estate professionals have had this dilemma. It isn't always clear whether we should persevere or cut our losses. There are no hard and fast rules. Maybe we can help one another by sharing. What was your tipping point?



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Comment balloon 8 commentsJill Sackler • September 23 2013 01:54PM


My tipping point?  When the buyer made me a VHS tape of the bunnies running in his yard.  

Posted by Catherine Ulrey, Equestrian and Acreage Property Specialist (Keller Williams Capital City) almost 7 years ago

We can go pretty far in our tipping point and at that point it's not about the money or hours we have spent, it's about the "chutzpah" that this person may have pushed our decision into letting go...

Posted by Lawrence "Larry" & Sheila Agranoff. Cell: 631-805-4400, Long Island Home and Condo Specialists (The Top Team @ Charles Rutenberg Realty 255 Executive Dr, Plainview NY 11803) almost 7 years ago

hmm, I think I like that word "rachmones", albeit it is the first time I have ever heard it!   Back to the point. Not sure what you are alluding to but I know, for myself, I cannot stop until I am finished! Had a four year long short sale. Sold it several times, wrote to the bank, spent more hours than I care to remember, along with several different people from the attys office over the years, some left, some quit, etc.   All along, I kept asking myself why I was continuing. Well, for one, I really felt bad for the sellers predicament. They were in a position that was solely due to to misleadingness (is that a word?) from the bank/banks involved and they were somewhat elderly and needed to not be worrying about this. So even though, many times I felt like chucking it, something kept me there and I never gave up. I won't bore you with the details. After four years of hell, it finally closed and I actually made a commission on the whole thing!  I always felt better that I persevered. But, that's me. If it's interfering with your livelihood and well being, then by all means, remove yourself!!  Good luck!

Posted by Karen Hurst, Rhode Island Waterfront! (RICOASTALLIVING.COM) almost 7 years ago

Jill that is an excellent blog post. I really liked reading it. I can almost feel the frustration with the "bizarre real estate transaction". I have been there. You get in too deep and compulsive OCD people like me either finish it because it keeps me up all night or,

To help someone. 

Posted by Noah Seidenberg, Chicagoland and Suburbs (800) 858-7917 (Coldwell Banker) almost 7 years ago

There are folks that we work with that bring out the best and worst in us. It is just the nature of working with human beings. You can't always choose what you end up with. Thank you for sharing your post with all of us.

Posted by Joe Petrowsky, Your Mortgage Consultant for Life (Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709) almost 7 years ago

Well my dear, since we don't know the particulars - I'd say follow your gut on this one. If it's time to walk - you should. If, however, you still have doubt, hang in there until the message to "leave" is stronger. I too am in a short sale - way too long thanks to banks, and wonky buyers - and it may or may not finally close next month. Chase is a being impossible and refusing to honor an 11 day extension needed for funding. Argh.

Posted by Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD, REALTORS® in Clark County, WA (ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors) almost 7 years ago

Jill, we have done pro bono work before - to help someone in need. If you are not sure if it will close and it is taking up way too much of your time and emotional energy, then it may be time to walk.  If you can separate yourself from the emotions/time and just stay in it until it closes, that would be what I would do.

Posted by Sharon Alters, Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL (Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308) almost 7 years ago

Hi Catherine - This sounds like an indelible memory.

Hi Sheila - That does seem to be the deciding factor, doesn't it?

Hi Karen - Good for you for sticking it out. You actually said something very important without realizing it. It has to do with whether or not you feel bad for the client. You're more likely to stick it out for the duration if you feel this was not the client's fault, in the first place. Also, it probably has to do with appreciation vs. attitude.

Noah - thanks so much. Compulsive sounds about right. I need closure and would prefer a happy ending.

Thanks Joe. No, we don't get to choose and certain factors sway us one way or the other.

Hi Debb - excellent advice!!  I've often waited for the message to become stronger.

Hi Sharon - I suppose I've made up my mind now to see it through despite the high maintenance client and derision from others.


Posted by Jill Sackler, LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500) almost 7 years ago

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