I recently bought a condo. [Pause for applause]
The process, from looking to offering to buying, was anything but smooth sailing. My search for a place began in November. I quickly found a place that I wanted the offer was accepted. That was the first week of December, and I just moved in the last week of May.
For you naysayers out there: it was not my fault. I have great credit (well…Jesus has great credit; I’m just a mere mortal) and I was bringing more than the typical percentage for downpayment (I wanted to make it rain at the closing table). The problem was that I had found a condo that was being short-saled. My broker told me what to expect: “I’ve done a bunch of short sales and we should be closing in about six to eight weeks. I’ve never seen them go longer; sometimes we’ve heard back within the week.” I then told my lawyer that I was thinking of buying a short-sale and repeated what my broker told me.
He didn’t stop laughing for several minutes.
Turns out, my lawyer was spot-on in his analysis. The fact that he was right and I was wrong did not sit well with me. The fact that I’ve known my lawyer my entire life and that he was right and I was wrong made it even worse. Combine these things with the fact that I am one of the most impatient people on the planet and you get an individual who (1) sits in his office, (2) does five minutes worth of work, and (3) then sends his lawyer an email.
The process then repeats and escalates as my lawyer fails to respond immediately. Three minutes pass—nothing. Then I send a text.
48 seconds pass with no email or no text message response. So I call his office.
Then I call his cell phone. And then his home phone.
And like that, I’ve turned into the client from hell. (When I had this mini-meltdown, my lawyer was working out without his cell by his side…a forgivable sin since this lawyer works outside of the AmLaw 100.) The realization of my hell-status hit me about two days into dealing with the short-sale. At that point, I dialed it down a little. Well, sorta.
I’m used to negotiating with lawyers. Lawyers appreciate logic, fact, and understand that when you are offering real money it behooves you to move quickly to bring a respectable counteroffer to the table. Mortgage-holding banks do not appreciate logic. Nor do they care if you are putting real money on the table. They also don’t respond to negotiating tactics that work in the legal world. My attorney knows this. My attorney tells me this. I tell my attorney to shut up, listen to his client and do what I say because “I KNOW HOW NEGOTIATIONS WORK!!!”
Turns out, and this may shock you: I know nothing about short-sale negotiations.
When you are extremely interested in purchasing a piece of property (if you are me), there comes a point in time where you begin to lose your mind. My breaking point was ten weeks into this process, when we had still heard nothing. All I could think was “I am a lawyer, damnit! You can do this!” My plan for “doing this” was to violate the cardinal rule of negotiations: NEVER BID AGAINST YOURSELF. I know that we haven’t heard from you in two and a half months and you’ve never given me a counteroffer—not to mention an indication that you understand English—but if we can get this thing done this week, I’ll raise my offer by five percent right now.”
My lawyer read me the riot act.
Let’s recap the dumb things that I did (or tried to do) as a client: (1) overly demanding of my lawyer’s time without any real reason to talk to him, (2) insisted that I knew more than he did, (3) I ordered him around on how to conduct negotiations, (4) became irate and more obnoxious when he did not follow my directions, and (5) attempted to pay more than I ever should have for a piece of property.
I was the embodiment of everything I hate about my clients rolled up into one single being. If I was my lawyer, I would have fired me. My lawyer probably should have fired me. But I think he felt pity—as well as a duty—to see me through this whole process. Also, I think he really wanted to finish his pro bono hours for the year and that’s why he stuck with me. That, and he did not want to see his son just totally fuck up his first home purchase.
Sorry Dad for being the client from hell.
(image: adapted from http://www.flickr.com/photos/groovysoup/5547858373/)