I Screamed and Ran, Called 911.’ Three Home Showings That Went South Real Fast
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I Screamed and Ran, Called 911.’ Three Home Showings That Went South Real Fast

We asked three real-estate agents if they’d ever feared for their lives while on the job

By ROBYN A. FRIEDMAN
Tue, Jun 20, 2023 9:05amGrey Clock 3 min
Q: Have you ever feared for your life while showing a home?

Elizabeth Thompson, real-estate agent, The Agency Los Altos, Los Altos, Calif.

I was representing the seller of a townhome under contract for $1.2 million. A day before the closing, he called to tell me a window was missing. When I arrived, I found that a small sliding window was completely gone, both frame and glass. I thought that my stager had accidentally broken it and took the frame out in order to have the glass repaired. But the seller also mentioned that there was a stain on the carpet in one of the bedrooms. We went upstairs and saw a bright yellow stain next to the closet. I got on my hands and knees to smell the stain. It was not the colour of urine and didn’t smell that way. We went downstairs to discuss a solution for the missing window and then heard a bang upstairs. We went up to check, going from room to room. We finally got to the bedroom with the stain, and when I slid the closet door open, I saw an aluminium container on the floor, like the kind takeout food comes in. I looked to my left, and there was a man standing in the closet. My client and I screamed and ran, called 911 and the intruder was ultimately arrested after he climbed down the balcony to escape. He turned out to be a homeless guy with a 20-page rap sheet, but the scariest part is that when I was kneeling on the ground smelling the stain, he was about 6 inches away from me on the other side of the closet door. To this day, when I open a closet, I still have a gut reaction.

Lindsay Jackman, real-estate agent, Century 21 North Homes Realty, Gig Harbor, Wash.

I am a policeman’s daughter, and now a policeman’s wife, so I have a very thorough process to vet buyers. I never meet a stranger at a vacant house, for example, and always perform public records searches on sellers before going to a listing appointment. But I was about to take a listing on an older four-bedroom home that was used as a rental property, and the sellers were acquaintances of mine. The house had the potential to be listed for upward of $1 million, and I was fairly new in the industry, so it was exciting. I was meeting the sellers at the house for a walk-through to determine its value and whether any updates were needed prior to listing it. During the tour, I learned that the tenant was an ex-police officer with substance abuse issues and a mental-health problem. He also wasn’t paying rent. When we got to the primary bedroom, the door was closed. The seller knocked and opened it, and the tenant, wearing just underwear and a tee shirt, was standing inside the doorway, holding a gun and demanding that we leave. The seller at first tried to calm him down, but then he pulled out a gun from his waistband. The situation was unraveling, and I was petrified. I bolted for the door. I can still remember the pounding in my chest as I fumbled for my car keys. The seller came out a few minutes later, and we all drove to the nearest public place. The seller had known it would be a volatile situation, but he put me in danger and never apologised or gave me the listing. Now I have a new rule for safety: No tenants present in the house, ever.

Eli Faitelson, real-estate agent, Compass Florida, Miami Beach

About three years ago, I was working with the sellers of a single-family home on the water in Miami Beach that was listed for about $1.5 million. I got to the home an hour early to set up for a showing, and I noticed that the ceiling near the kitchen had a huge bubble in it. There was water all over the floor. The air conditioner was up on the roof, and it was leaking, so it had rotted all the wood. The sellers had been in Spain for about a month, so they had no idea what was going on in the house. I started cleaning up, and I was also playing with the AC, trying to figure it out, when I heard the water start to drip a little faster. Then the whole ceiling collapsed on my head. There was wood and AC equipment all over the floor. I was pretty close to getting really injured. I was terrified. I had debris all over me, and I was freaking out. My arm was injured, and I was in shock, but I was still able to cancel the showing.

—Edited from interviews by Robyn A. Friedman



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Thousands of Australian companies on the brink of going into administration as EOFY nears

Along with high inflation and weak consumer spending, there’s another key factor pushing a record number of businesses to the edge

By Bronwyn Allen
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More than 10,000 companies are expected to have entered external administration by the end of the 2024 financial year, a level not seen for more than a decade. Data just released by the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) shows 1,245 companies became insolvent in May, the highest monthly number this financial year. At present, a total of 9,988 businesses have gone bust in FY24 with data from June yet to be finalised.

Deloitte Access Economics Partner David Rumbens said the surge in business insolvencies this year was a “clear sign of economic distress”.

He commented: “[ASIC] predicts that by the end of the financial year, the number of companies entering external administration will likely exceed 10,000 – a level not seen since 2012-13, in the aftermath of the Global Financial Crisis (GFC).”

Mr Rumbens said the elements contributing to this year’s surge in insolvencies include high inflation and interest rates, weak consumer spending, and the commencement of more proactive tax debt collection activities by the Australian Taxation Office (ATO).

“One of the key factors contributing to this surge in insolvencies is the [ATO] pursuing debts that were previously put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.

Mr Rumbens cited ATO figures showing collectable debt rose 89 percent in the four years to June 2023. This has particularly impacted small businesses, which account for approximately 65 percent of the total debt owed at about $33 billion. “But more strictly enforced debt collection is coming at a time of tough economic conditions. High interest rates and cost-of-living pressures have weakened consumer spending, particularly in more discretionary components of spending.”

The construction sector has seen the highest number of insolvencies by far in FY24, mirroring the trend of FY23. Of the 9,988 insolvencies to date, 2,711 of them are in the building sector, which faces several challenges. These include a substantial lift in the cost of construction materials that is well above inflation and has made many fixed-price contracts signed within the past few years unprofitable. There is also a significant labour shortage that is delaying new home completions and new project starts, and also adding higher costs to projects.

“The construction sector has been hit particularly hard, with construction firms leading industry insolvencies in every quarter since mid-2021,” Mr Rumbens said. “They have accounted for approximately 25 percent of all insolvencies during this period. The residential construction sector is already facing a backlog of projects to complete as a result of skills and material shortages in recent years, and increased insolvencies in the sector may only exacerbate the problem of housing shortages.”

The ASIC data shows the next biggest industry affected is ‘other services’, which includes a broad range of personal care services such as hair, beauty, dietary, and death care services. The sector has seen 939 insolvencies in FY24. Retail trade is next with 687 insolvencies, followed by professional, scientific and technical services with 585 insolvencies.

“The food & accommodation sector has also experienced a wave of insolvencies. High input costs, worker shortages, and weak consumer sentiment have put pressure on businesses. Specifically, in March, cafés, restaurants, and takeaway businesses accounted for 5.5 percent of total business insolvencies, the highest proportion in the last three years.”

Mr Rumbens pointed out that while the number of insolvencies was high, it represents a lower share of the business sector at 0.33 percent than it did in FY13 when it was 0.53 percent. “This reflects the increase of registered companies in Australia, which has risen from just over two million to 3.3 million since 2012-13. Even so, the continued lift in insolvencies since 2021 highlights the difficult conditions many businesses face at present.”

 

 

MOST POPULAR
11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

35 North Street Windsor

Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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