Remember that the Buyers don't want to take the "key" from the builder? They were stalling and making excuses?
That ended abruptly. Yossi, wise in the ways of Israeli life, called the site manager and told him, "Close the house." Our half-sold Modi'in home was then locked up with no admittance to anyone.
"But then the Buyer won't be able to put in the new sink and the new countertop he ordered for the kitchen," I pointed out.
Yossi smiled wryly. "Bidyuch! (exactly) You won't see his money until HE needs to get something done. It is YOUR house, Sarah, and he has no right to go into it to put in lights, or put in a shower, or fix the countertops or change the sink. NO right! If he wants to do these things, he can pay you your money! You watch, Sarah--now that it is inconvenient for him, he will pay you."
He was right (as usual). Flurries of phone calls ensued, and the Buyer wanted to give us the final check and take the key.
So today we schlepped (again) to Modi'in to meet him and the builder's representative and site manager. I signed the documents taking possession of the cottage from the builder. Then the Buyer, his wife, the builder's rep and Yossi toured the property and examined it, until the Buyer agreed that the house was acceptable. (He has a quibble with the fact that of 5 electrical sockets, one is maybe a millimeter off in line with the other 4 sockets........but we told him to take that up with the builder because that isn't good cause not to take the home.)
So the Buyer is now signing off on the home. I ask to see the two checks. One, the major check, is made out to us and a smaller but still substantial balance is made out to our lawyer to basically hold 'in escrow' until the Buyer confirms that we've paid the taxes due.
Our understanding in the conference call yesterday was that Buyer would bring two cashier's checks.
The Buyer brought one cashier's check and a personal check.
"What's this nonsense?" Yossi asked.
Buyer explained that there was no need for a second cashier's check because, after all, it was just going to sit in the attorney's office for a month.
"That's not the deal," Yossi said, fire beginning to burn in his eyes. "Our attorney told your attorney yesterday to bring TWO cashier's checks with you today."
Then the Buyer made a fatal error. "Well, the money isn't in the account right now," he started to explain.
Ever see a Moroccan screw himself into the ceiling? Yossi went off like a firecracker.
"You don't have the money?! What are you saying?! My sister and her husband are supposed to take your word that this check will be good some time in the future? I knew it! I knew you didn't have the money!" Yossi exploded.
Buyer tried to explain that well, he sort of had the money -- but it wasn't clear to me in the rapid-fire Hebrew shooting all around me if he didn't have it because its making money for him in an interest-bearing account, or if he is short because the buyer of his house hasn't made the final payment, or if he's just broke.
Yossi didn't care. "It's NOT my problem!" he said, over and over to the Buyer. Black and white print doesn't do justice to the disdain with which this was uttered. "It's not MY problem--it's YOUR problem. You owe my sister and her husband this money and if you don't pay TOMORROW then this contract is broken and you will never see this house!"
He grabbed the paperwork, tossed the two checks on the as-yet-unfinished countertop and said, "Come, Sarah--we go," and strode out of the cottage. The Buyer's wife followed him all the way to the car asking him to reconsider. The Buyer pulled out his cellphone and made a call while she talked to Yossi. Then Yossi's cellphone rang--it was our attorney telling Yossi to take the check, because she had their attorney's word that the check would be good.
Yossi moved away from the crowd to talk to her. "What are you thinking?" he asked her quietly. "And if, in a month, the check bounces, or something happens to these people and their account is closed, are YOU willing to pay this amount of money to Sarah and her family?"
No, she wasn't.
Later Yossi told me that she said the Buyer's attorney gave "his word of honor" that the check would be good. I almost fell out of my seat laughing. "Yossi, I'm an attorney--no attorney in civil practice has a 'word of honor' I would ever rely upon. They're all snakes and its all about money and screwing the other guy."
The Buyer's wife, somewhat calmer than the Buyer and possibly sensing that Yossi was deadly serious about busting the contract, begged Yossi to give her until Friday to come up with another cashier's check. "I have to go to work tomorrow, I can't take another day off, and it will take me some time to arrange this."
In other words, she needs time to arrange a bridge loan to cover this second check because the other money either doesn't exist or is locked up and unavailable.
Yossi agreed to Friday morning--but told them, "This time YOU come to Jerusalem. We've come down here too many times."
"But I want to examine the house again," the Buyer protested. "What if a window has been broken or something stolen since today?"
"Tough," Yossi told him. "You saw it today--that's enough. I'm not driving down here again--you bring your checks to me Friday or the deal is off." (He actually said something quite a bit stronger than 'tough' but I'm trying to keep it clean.)
When I was a child, I used to wonder if Guardian Angels really existed?
Now I have one.