Buying Church Street: A Case Study

November 11, 2020

Not a day goes by where I don’t think about how much value I try to create for my clients and friends. Whether it’s working with a buyer or a seller, I am always focused on earning trust and being a resource. I spend a lot of time vetting and aligning myself with partners–contractors, inspectors, lenders, real estate colleagues and coaches–all in an effort to both increase my competence and bolster my quiver of expertise. I also spend a lot of time learning and evaluating how I do things and how I can do them better.

A client’s recent purchase of a property on the north side of Ann Arbor on Church St. provides an example. First a few details:

This was a home priced around $150,000–rare in this market–that was being sold by the children of the owner who needed to move where he could get care. Because of the price, it was extremely competitive and my client beat out three or four other offers to win the property. Here’s the thing, while her cash offer was accepted, it was some of the other aspects of her offer that attracted the seller and the listing agent and eventually won her this competition.

This property, that had been home to the seller and his family for more than 40 years, was only marginally functional. It’s normal in a competitive buying environment to offer concessions for things like an old furnace, windows that need replacing or an old roof. This property also had a too small septic tank and a septic field that needed replacing.

Here’s where my notion of the value I try bring comes in: I’ve worked with this particular client several times, both on the buy side and the selling side. Because this deal involved direct negotiation with the listing agent (whom I consider one of the best and with whom I’ve cultivated an excellent relationship) and navigating the local government process that certifies wells and septic systems in order to transfer property from seller to buyer, there were a lot of steps. I focused on helping guide my client through those steps.

To be clear, my buyer client had to jump through a lot of hoops in order to get to the closing table. This required being willing to escrow funds required to replace the septic system in the first place, then find and hire an excavator to do the job as well as wait for the sanitarian to be available to certify the soils are adequate build a new septic field and install new septic tanks.

Through each step I was also contacting excavators, septic field experts, managing the contract timelines and keeping the listing agent up to date on our progress. We had to extend the closing date three times while my client worked through the process.

In addition to being present for most of the appointments where my client had to meet contractors evaluating the septic and well, I also worked with her on generating ideas on how she could renovate the property and resources I had to call upon to, for example, install a new HVAC system.

One of those appointments involved meeting both the excavator and the sanitarian the day the soils in the backyard were evaluated to see where the septic field could go so the permit to transfer the property could be granted.

The contractor had to dig several holes throughout the backyard. We also measured distances from adjoining properties’ wells and septic fields to ensure septic systems and wells wouldn’t contaminate each other.

My buyer client expressed gratitude several times that I was present for each of these moments, to bolster her confidence about the process and to offer suggestions for improving the property. I’m not saying I’m the only Realtor® who does this; many, many of my colleagues also work this way. And I’m grateful they do.

We finally closed a couple weeks ago and my client now can begin the renovation work she is so excited about.

Not all transactions are this complicated, but there are often many moving parts to any real estate deal and they require me to be “on my game” and focused on the steps ahead for my clients. Doing real estate isn’t rocket science, but mastery of the details is important and helps clients get to where they want to go.