Buying nice Lakeland remodel vs Lipstick on a pig

Real Estate

By Jared Weggeland
Focus Realty Group
KW Lakeland
Lakeland FL


Recently I was involved with a home purchase that went south and the series of events that transpired have inspired this blog post.

The house

My clients found a beautifully remodeled, older home, near downtown Lakeland, near Lake Hollingsworth, near Hwy 98, recently and requested a showing. Me and the team at Focus Realty Group, KW Lakeland made all of the arrangements to see the house and scheduled an appointment with our clients. When we walked up to the home, walked around the yard, and toured the interior of the house it all looked very nice indeed. There were new carpets. The kitchen was completely updated with new cabinets, flooring, granite counter tops and stainless appliances. The sun room had a beautiful, detailed, wood finished ceiling and had an amazing amount natural light pouring in. The bathroom had been updated - it was cute. Fresh paint had been applied. In all respects is looked like a move in ready home. Oh, the AC looked new and the house was nice and cool. Another check mark off the list!

The offer

My clients made an offer and after negotiations were completed agreed to price and terms with the seller. Our team's contract administrator started her work in the back ground to prepare all the paperwork ready for a smooth closing. My client ordered the home inspection and continued on with the loan approval process now the home was officially under contract. All is well.

The inspection findings

AC system. Good. AC blowing not so cold on the day of the inspection. Questionable. General house condition. Good. Roof. Good. Live termites under the house. Not so good. Chipped paint in bedroom 3 (seen at our showing). No big deal. There was a long list of small items, mostly cosmetic, that could be done after closing.

Seller repairs

When the seller was first told about the live termites under the house they said that they would get the house tented. Good news. They must have realized that no matter who buys the house, no one will want to close on a home with a live termite infestation. That made sense. They also said that no other repairs would be done by them (the seller). To be fair, the seller had agreed to pay thousands of dollars in closing costs for the buyer, which the buyer needed to close on the sale. It was understandable that the seller could only do so much

Okay. My clients asked for a few more days to inspect - they wanted an AC company to come out and see what was going on with the air that was once cool and is was now not working as smoothly. The AC company came, had a look. Guess what? Firstly, the thermostat had gone bad. When the seller remodeled the home, they ran the AC. What does that mean? The insides of the system were clogged with drywall dust. The gypsum board dust would eventually harden inside the system and become a major program. Glad we found that, right? For between $400-500 the system could be removed, fully cleaned, have a new thermostat, and be back in action. Excellent!

Sellers remorse

When we went back to the seller to tell them the good news (the AC system just needed a cleaning), things started to go south. The seller had recently gotten the termite tent treatment quote back, it was about $1400. The seller decided they were no longer going to tent the house, nor do any of the repairs. My clients were very surprised, and upset, as was I. We couldn't believe that the seller would lose the sale over $1400, and a treatment that must be done regardless of the buyer. We were sure what was really happening.

I was able to get a hold of the seller and speak with him. "It wasn't a good deal," he told me. This didn't really make sense to me. Price and terms were already agreed. My clients were willing to buy and close on the house if the needed treatment was completed. There must have been something else.

When I pressed the seller further I remarked that I suspected that when the price and terms were agreed the seller really didn't know his numbers. Did he really know all of his costs - the house purchase cost, remodeling costs, commission costs, seller closing costs? He replied, "It's not a good deal." Then I said that this response confirmed my suspicion. Rats!

Contract cancellation

Thankfully all parties signed the cancellation agreement and my client was able to get their earnest money deposit returned to them. My clients did lose precious time and the money they paid for the house inspection and AC company service call. In the end though, my clients dodged a bullet that could have been very costly to them.


1. Always get a home inspection. You can't always see things at a showing. It's an insurance policy. It's better to pay a few hundred dollars up front to save your self a very expensive problem if you buy a "lemon" of a house. This seller had put a lot of lipstick on this pig, but it was still a pig.
Do a little more digging. What if the seller had lived up to the agreement to treat the termites? What if my clients hadn't asked the AC company to inspect the insides of that system?
3. Sellers can get remorse too. Sellers can decide not to make repairs requested by buyers. Most sellers are reasonable and understand which repairs are essential and need to be completed for any buyer, and which repairs are more cosmetic or non-essential to close the buyer's home loan.
In this case, the seller realized that he was spending too much on the house and didn't sell it for enough money. He decided not to make the needed repairs hoping that the buyer would cancel - which is exactly what happened. Shame, isn't it?

The good news

There are many, very nice, reliable, and beautifully remodeled homes available in Lakeland and Central FL, so don't let a story like this dissuade you and your family from looking and buying a good one. Hopefully, my client's experience will benefit you so you can be better prepared as you search and purchase a great place to call home.

BTW, who do you know at church or work that is looking to buy, sell or build a home? Please refer them to me and Focus Realty Group, KW Lakeland - we'd love to help! We can be contact via call or text at 863-640-2246, contact us online now, or email today. Happy house hunting!