When it's good to know a "wiseguy"

If you’ve ever watched a show like the Sopranos you know that there is a term out there called wiseguy that has a potentially dangerous undertone.  Well, yesterday, for one of my new listings I was thrilled to know a wiseguy, or rather a Wise Locksmith, Chris Weissman.

While driving from Renton to Bellevue’s Bridle Trails neighborhood, to show this listing, I get a phone call from another agent who has shown up to view it with a client.  He’s having trouble with the door and wants to know if I am aware of any problems or special way of handling the lock to make it turn.  “No, I haven’t had any problem with the lock before and neither have the other agents that have viewed the house already”, I tell him.

Come to find out, after calling one of the sellers, there is a way from the inside of the house to turn a little switch that would lock the home from the interior and it would make it so the master lock wouldn’t work.  Not good.  *Note to sellers – always let your agent know about quirky things like this so we can stop it from happening in the first place.*  Not only was I losing this viewing but the pending showing I was about to do would possibly be lost too.  On top of it, I lost one other possible buyer showing when yet another agent came by while we were working on getting the problem fixed.  My inner MacGyver kicked in.  I wasn’t about to do some fancy trick with a paper clip but I could quickly sort out a possible way to solve the problem.

And here is where my wiseguy comes in.  Chris is actually a former client of mine.  He and his girlfriend, Maridee, sold a condo and purchased a home through me about 18 months ago. I learned at that time that he was a locksmith and I’ve referred him to several clients since that time, with very good results I will say.  So, Chris gets a call from my partner, Michael, to see if he can help and he’s on top of it immediately coming over from the Seattle area during rush hour and actually making it within about a 20-30 minute time frame. I was thrilled.  One of the great things about working with various people and different types of contractors day in and day out is that when you need something fast – most of these wonderful folks will drop everything to come help you.

His first instinct was to try various methods and tricks he’s learned throughout the years to find special ways of opening locks. Unfortunately that didn’t work.  The second attempt through the garage didn’t work but mostly because it is on an electric opener, so then he had to tear off the existing door handle and replace it with a new lock.  I’ll say that it’s a little disturbing to see how easily some of this stuff can be taken off a property – although Chris did say that since he does this all the time he makes it look easy.  He just hates having to destroy stuff.  He didn’t damage the door though and that’s all good.

It ended up that the buyers that wanted to see the house at my scheduled showing ended up coming back (I rang their cell) and we had a successful viewing.  One of the other agents is planning to come back too but I likely won’t know if that 3rd agent comes back.  Either way, the house is accessible again and all is well that ends well.  Since the clients aren’t looking at offers till next Wednesday we should be set but I’ve got Chris on speed dial now, just in case….

Holy flying skylights! Why I take good care of my contractor buddies…

I’ve been trying to get around to writing this post for a week but have been distracted otherwise. Anyhow, I wanted to make sure and point out a little something that anyone who owns a home with skylights might want to check. When we had the oh so lovely windy weather last week (before the ice and snow) I had an eye opening experience with a skylight on my 3.5 story house. I’ll provide a photo so you can see the pitch of this roof and get what I’m talking about later.


So, thankfully a neighbor was kind enough to run down to my house to inform me that one of the skylights off the top of my house was dangling off the roof a bit being held on to the roof by a gutter. I ran upstairs to see how much rain was pouring in the top of the house and saw that thankfully at that point it wasn’t much – but more clouds were headed our way from the west and south. Frantically I called one of my close contractor buddies – crap!!! – no answer!!! So, I called another local one but he was headed out of town. Thankfully he gave us the number of one his usual people that helps with his projects but when he showed up the ladder he brought wasn’t large enough. So, back to plan #1 with more frantic calls to the first contractor. I got lucky. He answered and was actually in the vicinity and he just so happened to have one of his longest ladders with him.

The 3 workers showed up and two of them ended roped up to the tie off on the top of my house while one stayed inside to help with screwing in screws that HAD APPARENTLY NEVER BEEN INSTALLED when they put the skylights on my house! We got lucky that no damage occurred to the skylight that came off – 1. it popped off like a bottle cap [photopress:bottle_cap.jpg,thumb,alignright] and landed on its back, and 2. it didn’t fall to the ground (concrete driveway) below. While they were up there they went ahead and secured all 3 skylights (yes, ALL of them had been left with little to no method of attachment). The contractors applied silicone to seal the windows and then they screwed them in properly. Little did I know that I was living on borrowed time with these things – and we got really lucky that they’d not blown off earlier. As you can see in the photo I live on a hill and my house gets buffeted by winds regularly.

So, note to homeowners and agents… If there are skylights on your home (or one you’re helping buy or sell) it’s worth it to check to see if they are secured. It doesn’t take much to do after seeing what these contractors did. Secondarily, I was also told that skylights are a common method of break-ins on homes because many of them aren’t installed very well. A good maintenance tip and addition for your annual gutter and roof check.

Commission double-take

Ok, for those of you thinking from the title that I’ll be going back to the subject of dual agency and taking a seller and selling side of a commission this is about something else. What I’ve got a question about as well as a big concern right now is that I just got mutual acceptance on a deal for a client and I’ve just noticed that the listing agent has changed the commission on the listing data. It was at 3% on the day my clients saw the house and now, tonight when we got MA, it is at 2.5%. Anyone have an idea how the local MLS views this kind of thing? I have a feeling that she changed it just because an offer finally came in (it was full price on a big price tag) and as of 01/06/2007 it was at 3%.

[photopress:washer_dryer_photo.jpg,full,alignright]Considering the listing agent screwed up and had posted a washer/dryer as part of the listing also and then she couldn’t work that problem out with her client (happens to be her father-in-law) I was planning on using part of the commission to buy a set for my clients. That may be shot now with the reduction although (the set they want is $2600) [photopress:pennies.jpg,full,alignleft] but I’m planning on pointing out the change and requesting that she pay the amount she originally noted and submitting the printed copy of the listing as my documentation with the disbursement form. The MLS rules as I see them state that the “commission shall be paid as designated in the listing (or any change thereto).” Which this could mean that I’m hosed the money, BUT, I can’t tell if she changed it before or after we got mutual acceptance – which I find to be a possible ethical violation if it was the agent’s choosing. Furthermore, which rate would apply if it was changed after the fact? The same section of the rules states “consent required to change other member’s commission”. I’m pretty sure the seller or the listing agent decided to drop it when faced with an offer and for no other reason than to save the money even though this has been the SOC for months – this place had been on market for over 100 days. Anyone got a clue on this one?