When a toilet flushes

Downtown Miami Skyline View

The smartest seller leaves a penny on the table for the next guy.

I have a friend whose ear is so in tune to the Miami Beach Real Estate Market, that he knows what is going on in the Real Estate world even before buyers and sellers have come to realize it! I always say if you want to know “Which toilet in Miami Beach is flushing, Call Todd!”

Toilets flush all the time. One thing I’ve learned is that in the Real Estate business toilets flushing is vital information for us brokers. I have also realized that each of us brokers have our own style and that certain clients are meant to work with each one of us based on personalities, integrity, knowledge, and most important good old empathy. Real Estate is a personal service business and that service is best provided among those who respect each other and speak the same common language. Knowledge, hard work and transparency have always helped me but, not everyone I work possesses those attributes. Yet many thrive in this business without it so as I said, buyers and agents come together based on some underlying understanding or similarities in common.

So, a toilet is flushing and I’m going to tell its story.

About this time last year a few weeks before my father passed away at the ripe age of 94, a long term acquaintance who is also an established resident of Miami Beach lost her husband. I saw his obituary in the Miami Herald, cut it out and placed it on my desk. A few weeks later my father passed away and she cut his obituary and placed it on her desk. Neither called the other as we were both navigating the uncharted territory of loss.

A few weeks later I ran into her on my daily drive along N Bay Road in front of her house and we exchanged condolences. Months passed and one day she called wanting to go look at available homes, not yet sure of what she wanted to do as she didn’t need to move or do anything, she was just exploring.

We went out several times and although there are currently a lot of homes for sale she was disappointed in the available choices. She was about to give up looking when I sent her the last list of 5 or 6 homes we had not gotten around to previewing. In that list she identified one home she wanted to see. She ended up loving, buying and to some maybe even over-paying for the home. But the home was not only stunning it was perfect for her, and most importantly she loved the home and the home loved her!

She bought it. Cyndi my long term Associate held her hand throughout the buying process. The last time she had purchased a home was 40 years ago and at the time she had her husband leading the way. In addition, I referred my dear friend Judy, an organized firecracker who helped her pack, edit her belongings and move.

She was now interested in selling her old home, and I mentioned it to my most faithful loyal clients, the ones that “always have my back as they well know I always have theirs”. My clients were interested and we immediately struck a mutually agreed-to deal. The seller is a very smart lady, she was well aware she was not exposing her house on the open market to the possibility of selling for a higher price. She had the luxury of time and no need to sell in order to buy so she could have had the luxury of exposing her house to buyers and brokers, in hopes of find a higher paying buyer. But the seller did not want to deal with that, she instead chose to deal with the “bird in hand,” the sure shot, and whether she undersold or not (as no one has a crystal ball!) these buyers provided her ease and peace of mind. It was an easy, hassle free, drama free, simple deal.

And although she was well informed as to the market prices and market conditions she chose the win-win deal where she won an easy-to-work-with, reliable, respectful buyer and the buyer won a really good property for a fabulous price.

Subsequent to that and once the toilet flushed, no sooner than the contract was signed, a neighbor that never before visited or acknowledged her existence knocked on her door to stake his claim as being the rightful person to have been offered the house , as her long term neighbor. Other neighbors called to find out if they had a shot at buying it, or bringing an interested party over to see the house. Brokers contacted me saying they could have bought a higher priced offer, and to all I offered the opportunity to place a “back-up-contract” as the sale at that time was still under due-diligence. Needless to say no one came up with a back-up contract.

The deal is now hard and my dear clients will soon close. The seller is in her new house and we have exchanged treasures, I gave her my father’s old dining room which looks better in her house than it ever did in my dad’s house! She gave me a modern chandelier that came with her house in exchange for an antique chandelier I had. I got a fabulous wrought iron Art Nouveau hat stand she couldn’t fit into her new house, and some fabulous pottery! She hired the mover I referred her, as well as my electrician. She has come to love my dear friend Judy whose mother is now her housekeeper and I assure you they will be an essential part of each other’s lives for years to come.

Dining Room

As I reflect on the dynamics of this sale I realize that very few, if any, of my colleagues would have had the interest, empathy, and attention to details this deal required, which went far beyond the sale of a home. All of us involved in this deal have traveled a beautiful road together, and this path has lead us to a friendship and understanding that is far more profitable than the business deal.

This deal once again proves my theory that the smartest seller is not the one who makes sure he gets every possible penny off the table. The smartest seller is the one who walks away happy with a profit knowing that she has left a penny on the table for her buyer to succeed. It’s the win-win deal that surpasses all others.

And when this toilet finally flushes, there will be a lot of blah blah blah going on in this small town, as if I don’t know my city and its people! To all those that have the chutzpah to comment to me, I will direct them to read this blog, which is not just the story of a deal but a story about the value of loyalty and mutual respect. It’s the story of how you build a client base one client at a time and how you keep it forever. It is about being grateful, caring and going the extra step. Most importantly, it’s about working hard to earn and nurture an everlasting relationship, long after a deal is done. Some of those who read this story will understand.

I end this story with a simple words to live by, borrowed from my client’s answering machine as recorded by her deceased husband: “Do all you can, for all those you can, in all the ways that you can, for as long as you can.”

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