Buyers can, and do, come in all sorts unusual shapes and sizes.
I was having a drink with a business friend the other night. He and I had gotten into the business about the same time. In fact, I think we met at the real estate school where we took our classes in preparation for our exams. Ironically, we ended up working for the same real estate company from the start.
It was good to catch up with him. Several years ago, he left the company and went out on his own. I had my concerns for him being that he had been in new home sales from the start, but he fell into re-sales and made a very comfortable landing into a field that has since treated him very well.
We talked about the shape of the market and what was next. He has a number of buyers that are still looking, which is a commodity in this business. Most, though, are waiting for the market to take the slight upswing, indicating the bottom has been reached. And he has some sellers too, unfortunately, though, some still holding on to pricing that is too high for the comps to support.
At some point, we began reminiscing about the old days. One lesson we learned early on in this business was to never judge a book by its cover.
The lesson was learned like this…There was a
One Sunday evening as we were getting ready to close, a guy walked into the sales office asking to see the penthouse units. I literally had my car keys in hand and was walking out the door when this guy walked in with the request. Not only was I already mentally checked out for the day, but I took one look at the guy and determined he was nowhere near our penthouse buyer profile.
With a UC shirt, complete with a spaghetti sauce stain down the front, ripped jeans, flip flop shoes and hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed or combed in days, he was apologetic for coming in at the very end of the day, but he did say that the bus had broken down while in transit.
Penthouses? I handed him a fact sheet and pointed to the ‘starting from’ pricing on our penthouse units. I was sure he was going to be disappointed, but he mentioned he would be interested in seeing the largest penthouse first, then working our way down to the smallest from there, referring back to the fact sheet and the ‘starting from’ pricing which indeed was our smallest penthouse unit.
I started with my usual prequalifying questions. He had been looking at some other things in the neighborhood, but nothing that compared to the price range or unit types we were offering. He asked about the HOA and what the dues included. Honestly, our HOA’s were very high, and we failed to compete with similar product type. I think I even told him that our HOA’s were very high for what the building offered, but he waived it as being lower than most HOA’s in New York, which is where he was from.
We offered three penthouses in that development. Each with a breathtaking view of the
We walked into the first penthouse, but the guy didn’t even walk halfway into the entry. I tried to get him to walk with me to see the view from the bedroom windows, but he just stood there. He shot a question or two at me, maybe about the square footage or a confirmation about the number of bedrooms…but the guy didn’t budge from the entry.
The second penthouse was pretty much the same drill. I even asked if he wanted to see the kitchen this time. But he mentioned that if the kitchen was like the first penthouse, he didn’t need to take a look, which was funny because he hadn’t seen the kitchen in the first penthouse to begin with! He confirmed the square footage and number bedrooms and we were off to penthouse number three.
Once again, we stood in the entry of penthouse three. At this point, I knew the drill, so I stood there with him, in silence as he contemplated the unit from the vantage point of the entry hall.
“So what did you think?” I asked, as we took the elevator back down to the sales office on the main level.
“I liked them all.”
“Well,” I started, “I could probably throw in a much coveted storage space down in the garage if you decide to take all three.”
As we heading back into the sales office, the guy asked if we could close an escrow within two weeks. I explained most loans these days needed a about a week or so to get through underwriting, so the deal would need to be pretty clean by the developer’s standards, but I also explained that a cash deal would significantly speed the process up quite a bit.
He reached for the calculator on my desk and worked the buttons for a minute or two. When he was finished, he replaced the calculator and shook his head.
“I can probably have the money transferred in the next few days.” He said.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“I would like to buy all three penthouse units,” He said, “so long as you can get the developer to agree to throw in that storage unit you mentioned.
We wrote one contract on all three units that night, and an addendum for the storage unit as well. To help expedite the close of escrow, the buyer wanted to pay all cash, and would have the funds transferred at COE. He even asked if I thought the developer would be okay with that request!
Nine days later, the highest price per square foot ever sold in a
Since then, the record for the highest price per square foot has been broken several times over, but sitting with my friend the other night, we were both reminded to never to judge a book by its cover again!