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October 17, 2011

Mastermind for October 12th. Paper Trails, Leveraged Sellers, and Building Permits

by mark mclean

Time for a little change. Some agents suggested that I should include the topics in my headline as a way to search the Mastermind Category a little more quickly. Suggestion taken and acted upon. Thank you. I have mentioned before that the idea of Mastermind came from author Napoleon Hill. In his best-selling book, Think and Grow Rich, Hill put it best: “The mastermind group is a coordination of knowledge and effort of two or more people, who work toward a definite purpose, in the spirit of harmony.” He continues…“No two minds ever come together without thereby creating a third, invisible intangible force, which may be likened to a third mind.” With a committment to raise the bar in the industry, our group problem solves in an atmosphere of total honesty and mutual respect. Along the way there is a lot of fun and laughter too. So, if you didn’t make it today, you missed some jewels of wisdom from the boss himself, Tom Bosley.

Paper trails are one of the most overlooked things in our business. When we are busy, we are on the phone a lot. Answering calls at open houses, in our cars (hands free of course), in restaurants, etc. It is important to make sure that the important stuff is documented, so write it down. Think about your average call centre. The moment you call, a file, based on your phone number is opened. Your query is recorded, so that if you call back again, any one of a dozen operators can trace your history. While we are not lawyers, it is important to realize that anything we say is admissible in court.  In the normal course of doing business, ask (and answer) questions via email. Print emails out and add them to your files. Turn this priority into a habit.

Another agent brought up the topic of building permits. She sold a house to a client and a week before closing, the buyer’s lawyer discovered that there was an open building permit. That in itself is not that strange but what was surprising was that the permit was opened by the previous owner and the current seller’s lawyer did not catch it. In an effort to close the deal, a holdback was arranged until the permit could be closed. The moral of the story, it seems, is that you never can tell. As agents, our responsibility is to ask the questions based on what we see. Identify if recent work was done and ask if it was done with permits and whether or not those permits are closed. In this example, the open permit concerned a small second floor deck but we heard stories from others at the meeting of extensive renovations where permits were never closed.

Finally, an agent brought up the matter of an acquaintance who became over leveraged as a result of some investment loses in the stock market. The person thought it would be best to use this opportunity to downsize from their large family home but did not want to draw attention to them selling. They wanted our agent to find a buyer and try to keep the deal “quiet”. On this subject, Tom had some choice words. Owners who are leveraged need to sell fast. Where there is one there are many. Best to be ahead of the curve than behind it. If there is any comfort to offer an over leveraged seller, you are not under siege, you just need to get in the mindset that the house needs to be sold. In a few months it will be yesterday’s news.

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