There are milestones in every Realtor’s career. Their first closing or their first listing, but then there is always a deal that seems like such a far-fetched and insurmountable challenge. The agent and all parties are thrown unforeseen obstacle after obstacle. Closing the deal seems impossible. But if an agent can master patience, persistence, and perseverance, then there is always a chance the deal will close.
15 months ago my partner, Erin, set out on a tedious and time-consuming task. Her neighbors whom she’d become close friends with told her they wanted a deepwater lot in Mt. Pleasant’s Old Village. AND they had a budget. If I were in my partner’s shoes, that’s where I would have pulled the plug. I knew that wasn’t possible. It was like searching for a diamond-encrusted needle in a haystack. Finding a unicorn is one huge challenge, coupled with a Buyer that can only pay under market value in a hot Seller’s market, AND they had a home sale contingency… well I’d say most people would stop here. Three strikes, you are out.
Not Erin; she was devoted to helping her neighbors get this property so they could build the house of their dreams. She combed the neighborhood and identified a piece of land and proceeded to cold call the owner by researching tax records. The owner was a gent in his 90s living in Florida. Even though Erin has a fantastic phone voice, he said he wasn’t interested in selling anytime soon and that was that. People who own desirable property get calls and letters every day. She had to think outside the box, how could she stand out and get him to pay attention?
She snail-mailed him an Offer to Purchase on behalf of her Buyers, along with a picture of the family and letter about what great custodians they would be to this property. She called him again to follow up, but he never answered the phone. Call, offer, unanswered calls – another three strikes.
After a few months of silence, she received an email from the owner’s niece and executrix of the estate. She explained that her uncle passed away over the winter and they were now interested in selling the lot. She explained that she was reaching out to a handful of interested Buyers who mailed her uncle letters, all of which he kept in a folder. She wanted to know if Erin’s Buyers wanted to resubmit their offer since they would not be listing it for sale on the open market. Does a bear shit in the woods? Duh! Everyone was excited again. But, alas, the Sellers came back and said they would not accept a home sale contingency and they would not accept a low offer. They explained what it would take to make a deal work and so Erin thought long and hard about who to let in on this little secret.
Erin made two phone calls and received two identical offers within 15 minutes of one another. The earlier bird gets the worm! After three weeks of negotiations, they agreed on price and terms. The biggest term? A dock permit. The price the Sellers wanted was not worth just a view, after all, THE reason you buy on deepwater is so you can have lickity split access to your boat in your own backyard. The contract was finalized in June and due diligence was underway. Erin’s Buyer called one morning from the site where he was with the surveyor. “We’ve got a problem,” he said. “The lot has to be 75 feet wide in order to have a dock, and we’re only at 70 feet.” Nooooooo! The property is worth half of what we’ve agreed on without a dock. Luckily, the surveyor found a loophole since that rule applied only to neighborhoods established after 1992. The Old Village is old, y’all. So, once OCRM (Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management) came out to recertify the critical line, they were back on track.
A typical permit from OCRM takes about 45 days. The first 15 days the request is put on public notice so all of your neighbors get write the project manager and object to your plans. The next 30 days are spent responding to objections and making the decision on what flies and what dies. Erin was expecting the permit any day when good ol’ Hurricane Irma decided to throw a party. No, she was not actually a hurricane when she “hit” Charleston but enough damage was done to the SC coast to really pump the brakes on little ol’ dock permit applications. After several unanswered phone calls and emails from OCRM, and learning that several of the neighbors submitted objections, Erin and the Buyers were pretty uneasy about getting the permit. In 2017 at least. Not only that but the Design Review Board for the Old Village Historic District was not making getting the house plans approved easy. Meetings got ugly. Neighbors weren’t bringing cookies, they were bringing insults.
At the beginning of December, they had to make a decision to continue on or pull the plug. Money had been spent on surveys and permits and was continuing to be spent on new sets of architectural plans… not cheap. Finally, Erin and her Buyer decided to pay the OCRM office a visit to get an answer to what the heck was taking so long. And of course… their assigned project manager wasn’t there. They were able to speak with a co-worker and were promised some kind of response the following Monday. Sometimes a little reminder that you ain’t goin’ nowhere is all it takes because at 9:00 on the dot Monday morning, her Buyer got a phone call that the permit would be issued that day. Halle-frickin-lujah! The deal closed the following week. Her biggest sale yet.
I remember a similar deal I had on Daniel Island. I had to sell a spec house that happened to be next to a vacant lot. Two Sellers! The Buyer wanted a deal and the home sale was contingent upon the Buyer being able to purchase the adjacent lot that was not for sale. Somehow, I worked it all out. I will never forget the roller coaster of emotions I experienced. I felt like I was the protagonist in Hemingway’s The Old Man and The Sea which is where I first embedded the principle of “never give up” into my being. After that closing, I knew I had what it took to the best in the business and that few others could have handled such a challenging negotiation.
Patience, persistence, and perseverance are three qualities the best agents in the business have, and Erin Spencer as proven that she is one of the best agents in the business by closing Chicco Lane.