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Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Bank Grinch Who Stole Christmas - Part Two

Last December I wrote a blog about one of those Big Banks that was Too Big To Fail and Too Big To Play Fair. CLICK HERE to read what I wrote then.

The good news: my buyers (the young Key West couple and their little boy "O") finally were able to buy their Key West dream home. They were among 18 couples who were selected by lottery to participate in a special funding program through the Monroe County and Key West Housing Authority wherein qualified first time local buyers were granted funds up to $258,000 in non-interest bearing financing to purchase a new residence priced less than $400,00. There were lots of restrictions and limitation which sometimes seemed onerous. The intent was meritorious in that the Housing Authority did not want the grantee to get into a bad deal just because there was some almost "free money" attached. The Housing Authority imposed a time deadline which compliance critical.

I gave up counting the number of offers we wrote on various properties, but there were a lot. Last December we got a bi-lateral contract which I referred to in the "The Bank Grinch Who Stole Christmas" blog only to have an asset manager retract the bank's written acceptance because he found a sweeter deal. The bank I did not name then I will name now: HSBC.

After that huge disappointment my buyers got an approval on another property that was owned by a local bank. My buyers got it inspected, but the Housing Authority declined to accept that property. We found another property owned by another bank. The bank accepted my buyer's offer. This place would have been perfect for my them, the Housing Authority disapproved that property as well.

Finally, we found a house in Old Town that was not bank owned and who had a sweet seller, a sweet selling agent, a willing local bank to write a small first mortgage, and a lot of local Key West people who helped get this deal completed. Thank you Jean, Judy, Ron at First State Bank, , Marci, Marie, Rick, another Rick, and yet another Rick for helping.

I used to work for the biggest bank in Denver where I did commercial loan workouts. My supervisor was a former IRS tax lawyer. I respected that man a lot. One time we were talking about the lawsuits the bank would get into and the fights that bank would fight and the ones it would defer. He said something like "The bank spends a lot of money developing an image. We don't want to mess up that image by behaving badly or over-reaching in legal claims." We still managed to get sued but we chose who we went after very carefully. There were a couple of lender liability suits we would have preferred to have won, but didn't. But we really did try to act legally and properly and to protect the bank's good name.

I think a good trial lawyer could rip HSBC apart on what it did and in the way it breached its contract with my buyers. It's funny how some banks operate. They think they can make up the rules of the game and change them any time they want. Contract law is contract law no matter what some half-wit asset manager thinks it is or says it is. There is a big payday waiting for someone on this particular matter. There is major intentional wrong doing both individually and institutionally.

Enough. Little "O" no longer lives on a boat. He has his own house with lots of doors and rooms, and very high ceilings. He has a front yard and a back yard. He's got palm trees and a nice house in a very nice neighborhood. He has a pet hamster that he calls a "mouse". Someday soon he will have a cat. He's got a mouth full of white teeth and a great smile. He is happy little boy. At last.

"O" checking out his new digs during our final inspection just before closing.

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Gary Thomas in a Nutshell

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Key West, Florida, United States
I first read about Key West in a magazine called "After Dark" sometime in the mid 1970's. But it wasn't until March 1984 that I made my first visit to the island that would become my home. I had two weeks for a vacation and reserved a room at Colours Guesthouse (now Marrero's Guest House) for one week. I thought that if I didn't like Key West, I could always go back to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale for the rest of my trip. But after a couple of days in Key West, that was no longer a consideration. But when I wanted to extend my stay for the extra week I found there was no room at the inn. The guesthouse owner did find me a room at LaTeDa, the infamous guesthouse/restaurant. That's a story I'll write another day. But those two weeks in Key West gave me the realization that I had found Paradise. Key West has been my home since 1993 and my only regret is that it took me so long to get here. I am a full time Realtor at Preferred Properties CRI. Let me help you find your new home or business in Paradise. Living in Paradise is not a slogan, it's a way of life.