Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Real Owner of the House

Stephen and I are currently living in a third story one-bedroom apartment which is purportedly 900 square feet, but I don't believe it for a second. Some college kids live in the building across from ours, and they frequently sit on their porch at 3am drinking, smoking, and arguing loudly enjoying college life. Our "home office" is spread across the apartment, at various times encompassing the couches, dining room table, porch, and bedroom. On top of that, we have a baby coming in January, who at the moment would probably have to live in our walk in closet. So, yeah. We're kind of looking for a new place.

Stephen is all over Craig's List looking for houses or condos to rent.  A few weeks ago, we found a great one.  In a really nice part of town.  Well within our budget.  Three bedrooms.  Fenced backyard.  Garage.  Excitement!  Could it be real?

Stephen emailed the lister, who wrote back right away.  She explained that she was currently working for the Red Cross, living in Western Africa, and really wanted renters that would take good care of her home.  Some of the phrasing made us wonder... it could have been written by someone who was in a hurry, or on a blackberry.  Or, it could have been written by someone who doesn't speak English as a first language... someone who might not necessarily feel compelled to be totally honest with us.  But that didn't occur to us until after we filled out the application and sent it back to her.

That night, we went with my family to drive by the place and check it out.  The lawn was trimmed, the flowers were tended, and there was a car parked in the driveway.  "I thought it was vacant?" we wondered aloud.  "Maybe she has current renters," my mom suggested.  Suspicious, Stephen went to the door to try and talk to the tenants.

Unsurprisingly, the "tenant" is actually the "owner" who is, in fact, considering renting it out... but hasn't listed it yet.  You can imagine her surprise when she found out she was living in West Africa and trying to rent her house for nearly a third of her actual mortgage.

If we hadn't figured it out by then, we would have after reading the next email from West Africa lady.  She was so excited to find some good renters for her home who would take wonderful care of it.  "Rest assured," she wrote, "I am the real owner of the house."  Oh, well then!  I feel better now.  Because I'm sure you wouldn't say that if it weren't true!  "Send me the deposit and first month's rent and I will mail you the paperwork and keys to the property."  That fast, huh?  Wow.  This process is so unbelievably easy!

Stephen decided to mess with her a little, writing her a response absolutely drenched in sarcasm.  He thanked her for reassuring us of her true identity and commented that she must have hired some landscapers as the lawn looked well-taken care of.  He said we were so appreciative of her flexibility that we wanted to send her two months of rent at once, and where is her nearest Western Union? He told her how impressed we are that she's devoting her time to the Red Cross, telling her "your heart must be as big as your lies."  We figured after that, we wouldn't hear from her again.  Wrong.

She wrote back gushing over how happy she was to have some great renters, and telling us how to send her the money.  Blah blah blah.  It seemed evident she had missed the acrimonious tone in the previous message, making further screwing less entertaining.  We were bored with the project and went back to looking for an actual homeowner to rent from.  We told her we'd send the money right away, and then promptly forgot about her.


Janella said...

So she never contacted you again, huh? Probably because she didn't get her money! That was the weirdest thing.

Melissa said...

How weird! So glad y'all out-witted her. ;)

Amy Lee said...

We kept running into this scam too when we were looking for a new place. And what actually happened to one of my co-workers at the time, he owned a house which he was trying to sell and had just listed through a realtor -- his add was copied onto Craigslist as the "for rent" property (again, for ~1/3 of the mortgage payment) of someone working overseas.
It made me so mad that they would prey on the emotions of desperatly hopeful people like that, but unfortunately on Craigslist rentals I've discovered that if it's too good to be true...
But blessings on your search! Keep it up, ask God for what you want (and I mean specifics!), and just watch Him come though!

Nancy said...

What Amy Lee said...write the vision down and make it plain. Watch God fulfill each and everything on your list. That's what Rick and I did. Even Christine wrote down her specifics (she wanted the house to be green) and we ended up buying a green house, along with everything else on our list for $40,000 under the appraisal. Go God.

Amy said...

I wonder if West Africa lady is wondering why she still hasn't received her money or if she's finally figured it out.