Thinking of buying a home in Heber Springs, Arkansas but not sure who to do business with when it comes to their local realtors?
Perhaps you have heard of the company called Crye-Leike Brock Real Estate in Heber Springs, Arkansas.
Their motto that " Finding buyers is just part of their job...but it isn't everything " is an understatement, in our experience. Nothing could have prepared us for the transaction we experienced through this company. It is unbelievable.
I am sure that not all agents are like the agent Jake Clowers and his broker we encountered at the time. I can only tell you our story per our personal experience.
We had a buyer's agent through another real estate company in Heber Springs which was Century 21 Frank Orr Realty. Frank Orr was the Broker and his salesperson, who was our buyer's agent, was Frances Travis.
We had been looking for homes in Heber Springs, Arkansas because we had fallen in love with the town after going to a great fishing lodge just out side of Heber Springs. Heber Springs is a beautiful little town and perfect for the outdoors person. Trout fishing there is second to none in our book. Majestic bald eagles fly up and down the Little Red River, which is spectacular. Wildlife abounds such as deer, wild turkeys, exotic birds, squirrels, snakes and the like. It is almost breathtaking.
However, we found out first hand that there are two predators that you do not want to encounter. No, I am not talking about bears or panthers, as rumor would have it. I am talking about realtors who have no problem doing what ever they have to do to make a sale, or to make their problems...your problems. This includes buyer's agents and seller's agents. We had no direct dealings with Crye-Leike, or with their agent Jake Clowers in our transaction when buying a home. But what has to come to light since that transaction has been enlightening considering Jake Clowers as seller's agent in our transaction and Frances Travis as our buyer's agent. These two agents engaged in acts that, if we had known what they had for store for us at the time, would have sent us running for safety.
I believe one of the reasons our country is in financial ruin is because of unscrupulous realtors, in our opinion. This agent and his seller had a secret, and both had a problem. Instead of being men and having the balls to try to figure out what they were going to do about their own problems they decided to rid themselves of their problems and put a fraud on an unsuspecting family. Unfortunately, it was going to be us. It could have happened to anyone that was going to pay cash for the house. We were the unlucky marks. But it was going to take help and they got it from our broker, our buyers agent, and the inspector.
The seller's agent and seller had something to hide so they could sell the house. The seller's agent, Jake Clowers, was the owner of this very property before he sold it to the seller in our transaction. The seller was a long friend of Jake Clowers. Clowers held the note for ten more months before the seller got a loan through another lender. Clowers gave this seller 2 full years to get this loan before he became the permanent lender in that transaction.
The seller told a neighbor he had problems with his septic tank when he bought it from Clowers, problems that persisted for 5 years and with many complaints from the neighborhood due to the septic smells. His solution was to cover the above ground septic tank, and all its problems, in sheetrock rather than disclose them.
He later had problems with heavy water run off which came onto the porch, went down the cracks, and rotted the seal and the fronts of all the floor joists. His remedy, tear off the cement and brick porch and then knock out the footings in front of the house.
This caused structrual failure, which caused the front wall that was one and a half stories in height to become unstable. When I leaned on it, it moved freely. He put the remnants of this porch throughout the large backyard without mowing it. Then he put on a wooden deck to cover up his problem and did not disclose.
He also had a cracked tub in the master bedroom that rotted out the bathroom floor and part of the master bedroom floor. His solution was to put a brand new piece of linoleum down over the small repair made by the tub and did not disclose. Jake Clowers being the former owner of the home said nothing which was his fiduciary duty to disclose, that the seller was not being honest.
If we understand correctly, Jake was also still in a suable position from the seller if the statute of limitations was 5 years when they defrauded us. They still had until the next year for those limitations to expire. The seller's wife had moved out and filed for divorce. It is our understanding he was having difficulty making his house payments as a result of this separation. He still had 2 more years before he could file for bankruptcy again as he had filed previously.
If he would have gone into foreclosure he would have taken a huge financial hit, not only because of his mortgage, but also because of the damages to the property would affect the value leaving him responsible for the difference.This could affect him for years to come. Better to help a friend out and put the fraud on us than to come forward. So, Clowers and the seller made a conscious, deliberate decision to shirk their responsibilities and dump them on unsuspecting buyers.
Jake Clowers should have provided us with a diagram of the location of the septic tank at closing and refused. He refused to tell us that the front porch had been torn off when the wooden deck still had bar codes on it. Keep in mind he had to walk across this brand new deck to put the lock box on the front door yet he can't disclose the structural changes. Also, keep in mind he was a former seller's agent and buyer's agent even before he bought this property for the seller in our transaction. Clowers had a long history with this house and through its visual changes.But if he mentioned the changes in front, or the location of the septic, it might flag a prospect. They both denied us our right to make an informed decision.
No average person, in their right mind, would take on such an ordeal, let alone at the price they were asking. At most, the house was worth less than half of what they were asking, in our opinion, and we did not receive the house that was represented to us. The house we received is not the house we bought and the contract was never fulfilled. The contract was breached throughout.
There was a Delayed Occupancy Addendum we all agreed to and all parties signed making it a legal. part of this contract, meaning a continuation of the contract.
Once the breach of contract came to light, Jake Clowers denied that the Addendum was ever used. He made this claim under oath which is perjury.The seller is now denying he used the addendum along with our buyer's agent. If we had taken early possession it would relieve the agents from their duties of resonsibility explaining their need to lie about this. But, in fact, we were in a motel room for the duration of this addendum which we have receipts for. They were still responsible and can't lie their way out of that one. Why would the buyer's agent not come to our aid in this? Well, she had been quite busy behind the scenes, as it turns out.
Under oath, Jake Clowers came forward to the AREC, that our agent gave him our inspection report (computer program) and he accepted it. They did this without our knowledge or permission compromising our inspection between them doing so. This gave all parties the opportunity to make changes. They had to be sure that what they did not disclose would not be in that inspection report.
Once having compromised our inspection the inspector, who allowed them access, sent the hard copy to match 22 days later. This was the first inspection of 3 that this inspector chose not to contact us following the inspection. Instead he reimbursed us $50. dated for the day before he supposedly did the inspection and before he was paid for it. This is a rare occasion that a reimbursement actually took place before the job was done or was paid for. We suspect he did the job the day before thus giving both agents more time now that we have this admission that the agents were compromising our report.
When our agent did this deed she instantly became an undisclosed dual agent which is illegal in all fifty states. Undisclosed dual agency is a crime. She also admits under oath that she had been accepting calls during this process from this seller's mother about the sale of this house. She also altered times on the final inspection documents to coincide with their lies that we took early possession of this house.
Then she lied to the AREC that she gave us keys to the house before the addendum claiming the seller had moved out early. The only keys Frances gave us were the keys to our 2 storage units. These were the very keys the movers gave her the day before when they finished putting all of our belongings in storage as Frances was the receiving agent on the mover's spread sheet. We did not take possession of this house, nor did we receive the keys, until this addendum was over 8 days after closing. By then we had been informed by a neighbor that the contract had been breached, meaning the realtors had a fiduciary duty to us to investigate this and to take action.
They refused and forced this fraud on us anyway. We had a right to rescind which means that house could be forced back on the seller. My agent told me they owed us for anything not disclosed. We told her we did not ask for this, we did not agree to this and wanted no part of it. Instead her broker told us that they were going to take a "wait and see approach" which meant our rights were being violated. Why would they take a stand like this against their own clients? Because they had been involved from the beginning.
As a result of these realtors part in this fraud and their refusal to address the breach of contract, the seller took our stolen money, put a contract down on another home 3 days after this breach was discovered, and bought this house a month later having it homesteaded. So, instead of our contract being rescinded, he was allowed a new home at our expense. He also used our address as his when obtaining this mortgage and it was put in his new mortgage as his address when buying his new home, implying collateral. But what can you expect from a man of misrepresentation? He had 3 different documents dated for his closing day for his new home with 3 different marital status, including being separated, married, and divorced all at the same time. Yes, this is a local resident of Heber Springs, and a friend of Jake Clowers.
We also found out that the next door neighbor to us in Heber Springs was a life long resident and friends with Jake Clowers. The young man is wheelchair bound and was buying homes for investment properties. He is the one who informed us of the septic problems the home had for years. He told us he thought about buying the home we bought but it had too many problems for the price they were asking. Jake Clowers is his legs and eyes because our neighbor is wheelchair bound. So, Jake can be forthright for friends. But he was too busy protecting his own end in our transaction to be honest.
We do have all documents, pictures, receipts, contracts, etc. to prove our statements to be true and correct and Crye-Leike is not only aware of this but they have also been provided those very items of evidence and still refuse to take responsibility as of this date for their companies' actions in this transaction.
What most people do not know is, a seller's agent has as much of a fiduciary duty to a buyer as the seller does to be honest and forthright in
the transaction. If a seller's agent knows of problems on a home that he or she is selling they are obligated by the law of agency to come forward and disclose this vital information to you, the buyer, even when the seller does not. You deserve to have full knowledge to know what you are buying. It is your right to make an informed decision. The contracts, or disclosure, should be amended to reflect this new disclosure and all parties must sign in acknowledgement to make it valid. If they fail to do this it is a breach of their fiduciary duty. If they fail to do this you have an absolute right to rescind the contract and sue for damages. This includes anything that could affect the value, desirability, or sellability of the property.
If you have this happen to you in Arkansas, it is wise to have an attorney who specializes in Real Estate Malpractice, not just Real Estate Law. Do not confuse this with attorneys that push real estate papers around. You need an attorney that is also a Real Estate Agent, if possible. You need an attorney who not only claims they know what they are doing but can prove it. If you have an attorney that refuses to do what you ask, drop them. They are not working for you. There is no sense paying for non-representation! It is their fiduciary duty to follow your instruction and represent what is in your best interest, not theirs. If an attorney does something behind your back, refuses to represent your best interests or overbills you they may be guilty of legal malpractice. Do not be suckered. The same applies to realtors, as they can be responsible for real estaste malpractice.
In our experience, and opinion, it is a waste of time to contact the Realtor Association. They were worthless in our case. In fact, the individual overseeing it let us know she had the same last name of the seller who defrauded us and was also from Heber Springs. Most would have viewed this as a conflict of interest. She viewed it as an opportunity to dispose of our complaint. Our buyer's agent became a member of the local Board of Realtors in Heber Springs shortly after we were defrauded, and abandoned by all realtors in this case. She then became the President of this same Board of Realtors. So, she pursued her own interests instead of seeing her fiduciary duties to us through this breach of contract. The AREC, Arkansas Real Estate Commission, in our experience and opinion, was a waste of time, as well. They are supposed to represent the public, but in our case they chose to represent the realtors. It is a government appointed agency designed to protect the public from unscrupulous or negligent realtors. They failed miserably. At no time did they represent us. If you contact the State Attorney General's Office to report this injustice you will be informed they protect the AREC against the public. Again, this is what happened to us. These agencies, in our opinion, are there to give a false sense of security to the public. So, keep this in mind if you decide to file a complaint with either. They are there to protect each other, not the public when it comes to real estate in Arkansas.