Homes for Sale in St. Augustine: A New Real Estate Designation…the WRE

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (

You have sometimes seen Realtors with a list of alphabet soup behind their name (CRS, GRI, etc.).  Well, we got a new real estate designation, the WRE.

WRE stands for Worst Real estate agent Ever

I earned my WRE designation back in 2004 during the land boom.  I had multiple offers come in on the same property on the same day, one was financed and the other was cash.  The cash deal was for significantly less.  I allowed a Reator I knew to basically lobby me into convincing the seller to take the financed deal.  Hell, I was convinced myself.

So what happened?  The seller accepted the financed offer.  The buyer walked away the very next day.  The cash buyer was p*ssed and bought something else.  That deal still haunts me six years later. 

What did it teach me?  Always, always, ALWAYS take cash.  And to my knowledge, I haven’t earned the WRE designation since.

Here are some more WRE recipients I’ve dealt with:

Back in the Flagler Estates land boom of 2005 prices went from $5,000/$8,000 a lot to over $30,000 lot in about eight weeks.  For some reason I had about 20% of the available listings at the time and I was cleaning up.  An agent from one of the Century-21s in Flagler Beach brought an offer in from his mother for one of my lots, which my seller accepted…somewhere around $20,000 if I recall.  Well, at some point during the transaction the buyer wanted to move the closing date back…both the seller and the buyer have to agree to move a closing date back in writing for it to happen.*  But the agent didn’t request anything in writing, he just said he was going to call the title company to do it.  I said, one, my seller hadn’t agreed to it, and two, the title company didn’t have any authority to move the date.

So the original closing date came and went and the buyer didn’t show.  So I called my seller…remember this was a rising market…and said we didn’t close on the property but I think I can sell it for more.  I made one phone call and sold it for $9,000 more.  As soon as the ink was dry on the new deal I called the C-21 agent to let him know he no longer had a lot for his mother.  He was incensed and no amount of explaining of simple contract protocol would suffice.

The next day I faxed the official cancellation in writing.  He’d already disappeared from his office, whereabouts unknown.  Here’s your WRE, dude.

Back during the same period I was selling a house in the Mandarin section of Jacksonville.  An agent brought me an offer which my sellers accepted.  What I didn’t know is that, at some point during the process, this agent’s buyer found a home he liked better so he was looking for a way to break the deal. 

Usually if the sale of a home comes undone it will do so at the time of inspection…and that’s okay, because if a buyer isn’t 100% willing to buy it’s better to say our goodbyes and get the home back on the market fast before we lose too much marketing time.  Still, we were somehow far enough along in the process that the appraisal had already been done. 

Well, when the agent decided she was going to break the deal on behalf of the buyer, she told us that the seller was going to pay for the appraisal (about $300).  Apparently she told her buyer that he wouldn’t be responsible for the cost of the appraisal if the deal didn’t go through.  So she forged a copy of the contract so that it looked as if the seller were responsible for the cost of the appraisal.

Maybe she didn’t keep great records.  Maybe she only ever kept the most recent copy of any contract.  But I keep every version of a contract, from begining to end.  And  I explained to her that by looking at the different versions that this pretty much looked like fraud to me.  I assume she paid for the appraisal.  Here’s your WRE, lady.

*When a closing date is moved back, the Emily Post way to handle things is to decide on a new date, and then get the seller and the buyer to sign off on it in writing.  Occassionally, however, a transaction will go “wild,” that is, go past its closing date without signatures.  This usually happens when the bank/lender doesn’t send the loan package in time for closing.  In some cases, the two parties will sign off on a new closing date, especially if it looks like the delay might be more than a week.  In most cases, however, the delay is only a day or over a weekend, the buyer still wants to buy and the seller still wants to sell, and everybody just comes back the next day and does the closing.  The Realtors involved can strongly suggest that a new date is signed off on (to protect both parties), but have no power to compel either party to do so.

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