Active Rain December 15, 2010

The Possible, the Impossible, and the Nuts

Myself and Paul Crego, my first broker, this past summerFor the second time in a week I had a conversation where the idea came up that a high volume producer (which, I guess, I am for my market) doesn’t typically give the same level of service to the client as a smaller numbers person who ostensibly has more time. I don’t take umbrage with the thought; there might be some truth to it, but not here. So I’ll share something. 

One of my agents brought in a listing once that was a co op apartment in serious arrears to the bank and the management company. An auction date was set for a week hence, and no agency was going near this home owner. She didn’t have the money to hire an attorney, and even if she stopped the auction, problems with the co op loomed large. 

She had one thing: equity. The mortgage was relatively small, and the apartment, while in disrepair, would sell if priced right. New York agents know, however, that you can’t just dump a co op; the board has to approve the price. It is an obstacle course. This much I knew: If I advanced her the money to stop the auction, then all I’d need to do to make the sale, get her out of hot water, and get paid back would be to simply sell the place. 

So I drove her to a good lawyer referred by the real estate attorney we were using and paid him, myself, to help her file. We then drove to the courthouse and filed. The auction was stopped 3 hours before it was to occur. 

Now, you should know that having owned the place for 30 years and a septuagenarian, my client was more than a little stressed. A teacher for decades, she was ill at ease with financial distress and all that came with it. She needed hand holding, patience, support, and now then, a shoulder and handkerchief. 

We then got to work at selling her apartment, which took another 4 months and another procedure to stop an auction. I paid for that also. Finally, we found our own buyer, and ironed out a deal we thought the co op could live with. And, with some cajoling, they were approved. They closed 6 days before a 3rd auction date that was set. 

In total, I was paid back every cent of the $2700 I advanced the client. She realized almost a quarter million in equity that she rolled over to start her new life again as a retiree. Does she love me? Yes. And not because I threw money at a problem. I treated her like she was a million dollar client. The lawyer who help us stop the auctions still to this day can’t believe it and he told me on more than one occasion that I was absolutely nuts, and it was impossible to make this work. But it did, I I frankly give more credit to my first broker, who taught me the business, than my own wits. After it closed, I called him to thank him, again, for teaching me how to solve problems just a little better than the other guys. 

I’ve loaded moving vans, dumpsters, and picked up shovels to fill holes for FHA or to show a footer is legal. But I am more proud of the mundane, day to day, person to person caring that clients get. So, I would say that my little company, while being perceived by some as a transaction mill, gives service that goes above and beyond the regular, the hardworking, and maybe even the sane. But I like it like that.