I drove an 88-year-old buddy to the airport on Saturday as he left to spend the rest of his life with his daughters in London.
He lived several decades in Canada with his second wife, who died in June after a prolonged illness. He was a wonderful friend who spun great yarns of his early life in Britain’s merchant navy during the Second World War and after his wife died I made a point of visiting him for a few minutes every day.
He was grief-stricken and very lonely; he decided to speed up the move back to the UK after his daughter was widowed in July, and he updated me regularly on plans to sell his house.
The property was put in the hands of a realtor who was a relative of neighbours, and he was puzzled when she told him that her grandparents were keen to buy the house.
It didn’t add up for him, as the houses are side by side and almost identical in age and design, but my buddy was eager for a quick sale, and didn’t want to ask too many questions. I had told him in a delicate way that some folks take advantage of others, and suggested that possibly the realtor was the one acquiring the house in order to flip it for profit, with her grandparents as surrogate buyers.
My buddy apparently didn’t want to doubt anyone’s integrity, but when he called to tell me that he had arrived safely in UK, he sounded genuinely surprised and quite stunned to learn that the realtor’s “For Sale” sign had been planted on his lawn the day after his departure.
It’s a cautionary tale indeed to think that some realtors — those self-promoting pillars of the community — entrusted to get the best deal possible for their clients, can apparently get a better deal for themselves.
A real estate flip of this nature may not be illegal, but has to be morally and ethically troubling. If things are as murky as they appear right now, it makes one wonder how those involved can sleep at night if they have profited from an elderly gentleman’s loneliness and grief.