by Tim O’Dwyer M.A., LL.B
Simon Tsang was a novice property investor who made his second inspection of a likely rental house on a Saturday. That night the saleslady from the seller’s estate agency phoned. She wanted Simon to make an offer. So he did – over the phone.
When the saleslady became a little stroppy Simon willingly increased his offer. Still not happy, the saleslady told Simon she would give him a few days to make a better offer.
But Sunday evening she phoned again, and asked Simon to come to her office Monday night to sign a contract. She would then try, she said, to negotiate the price with the sellers.
Next night at the agency, after Simon happily signed a completed contract form, the saleslady left the room to phone the sellers. Five minutes later she came back. The offer was too low. Simon had to go up. The saleslady soon persuaded Simon to make another offer. The sellers were phoned again. No, they would not accept this either. Simon asked if the sellers would put their price on the contract so he could think about it. This would waste everyone’s time, replied the saleslady. So she pushed harder, and Simon increased his offer further. After phoning the sellers yet again, the saleslady told Simon that, if he went up just $2,500.00, he would have “a deal”. Simon was feeling uncomfortable, the price was getting beyond his budget and he wanted to leave. But the saleslady kept pushing. Simon relented with one last offer, and “a deal” was done.
Monday morning the saleslady phoned Simon. The sellers had signed, but he needed to initial part of the contract. Now regretting his hasty actions the night before, Simon said he’d leave the initialling until Wednesday.
Tuesday night the saleslady phoned again. The contract would run from that day. But Simon still must initial it – and pay the deposit. Within half an hour Simon received a message on his mobile. The contract was OK. Initialling was no longer necessary. Just pay the deposit Friday.
Next morning an anxious Simon Tsang came to my office. He wanted out. He handed me a copy of the contract he’d signed. The price was a series of cross-outs: $340,000.00, then $350,000, then $355,000.00, then $360,000.00, and finally an uncrossed $362,000.00. But no sellers’ signatures.
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