Palm Trees, Inspectors, and Escrow – What Do These Three Things Have in Common?
Apparently, since I write stories about things I’ve seen helping people buy and sell homes in Mission Viejo and Coto de Caza, people like to tell me their stories. About things that have happened to them. This one was so good in so many ways I just had to share. So sit back and get a load of this real story coming straight from a friend. “Leslie, I’d love to get your take on this one,” he says. Here’s his story.
My neighbors put their Coto de Caza house on the market. Their kids are grown and they want to downsize. We hate to see them go – they’ve been great neighbors for 17 years. And they sold it so fast – seems like it was only a couple of weeks after the sign went in the yard that they had a buyer! A couple of days later, the buyers are at the house with their Home Inspector. And I notice they are spending a lot of time in the back yard. Looking at my yard. Pointing at my trees and their roof. My lovely, lush, tropical, perfectly fit for South Orange County palm trees. The ones I planted about 14 years ago. Dang if some of the mature, lovely fronds aren’t touching the neighbor’s roof. Not only that, some of the trunks of my cherished trees are pretty close to touching the roof. Then as I am looking at my trees and the neighbor’s roof, the inspector is pointing to a specific part of the neighbor’s roof. Where a tile is missing. Right where the trunk of one of my palm trees it barely touching the roof. In the words of Scooby Doo – Ruh roe!
A couple of days later, my neighbor comes over and says “we’ve got a problem.” The buyers of his house are really worried about my palm trees. They want to know if I’ll be willing to trim them back or even take them out, if that’s what’s needed, to protect their future roof. I ask to see the Inspector’s report describing the issue with my trees. So they give me the ENTIRE report (way TMI) and it basically says that the palms may become a problem and they should be trimmed or removed to prevent any future damage to the buyers almost roof.
I get that. You know I’m a reasonable person, Leslie. So I agree, in writing, to take the necessary corrective action to prevent any damage to the roof next door, within 90 days of the buyers’ closing escrow on the house on my dime, at no cost to the buyers of the house next door. As in, once the worry warts actually own the house next door. Well, you should have seen the fireworks! Dennis Miller can’t rant nearly as well as these buyers. I mean, seriously. They got all bent out of shape because I would only commit to taking corrective action after escrow closed and in a time frame that worked for me and my wife. If I am going to have to destroy the complete ambiance of my yard and dig up trees that I have nurtured for 14 years, it’s not going to happen overnight. And certainly not before the people with the issues with the trees actually own the property. Am I crazy?
No, dude, you’re not crazy. You made a timely, generous, reasonable response to a real problem. Why in the world would anyone expect you to be willing to either trim or dig up your palm trees for someone who isn’t even your new next door neighbor yet? And what reasonable person wouldn’t jump at the solution of you paying for your trees to be dug up so their roof isn’t damaged? And what reasonable person wouldn’t give you a couple of months to work out the timing and the rest of the details? I mean, really. Grow up.
Well, you know how this story is going to end, right? The buyers cancelled the escrow, blaming it on my friend’s palm trees. We’ll see if the next buyers will walk away from what I can only see as a very reasonable and generous solution. Because my friend is willing to offer the same solution to whom ever buys the house next door.