Going the Extra Mile

Mary Staton Ward and Bert Ward Owner/Appraiser/Broker/Realtor/GRI Black Diamond Real EstateGoing the extra mile has to an extent become a common cliché that some people may say and know they should do but seldom put into practice. Napoleon Hill defined Going the Extra Mile as “the habit of rendering more service and better service than one is expected to render (or paid to do) and doing it in a positive mental attitude”. This article illustrates what going the extra mile means to Black Diamond Real Estate.

In the Spring of 2019 an accountant friend referred to me a seasoned women, who was looking to sell and lives alone at Caswell Beach, seldomly leaving her home, and doesn’t have email, internet, nor a cell phone. The only method to communicate with her is by land line phone or paying an in-person visit. As a personal favor to my friend, I spoke with this sweet and kind lady who wanted to sell a one acre lot she owned on Westbrook Avenue, in the Alamance County part of the Gibsonville city limits. She told me about someone who wanted to buy her lot and gave me his name and number. I called the prospective buyer who informed me that he was interested in growing an organic vegetable garden on her lot and was only willing to pay $7,000 since her property did not have access to city sewer, only city water.

Performing my job in accordance to the Realtor Code of Ethics I conveyed the offer in which the seller, understandably, flat out rejected the offer. My next call was then to the Gibsonville Planning Department to take a deeper dive into investigating the peculiars of the lot. They confirmed that city water ran down Westbrook Ave in front of her lot but the city sewer did not. They even emailed me a map showing where the city sewer lines ran throughout the bordering subdivision, and on the adjacent corner across the street on Westbrook Ave. The only options for seller’s property to have access to city sewer was for at least one of the four bordering property owners to grant her an easement, or to tap into the sewer line across the street. Tapping into the sewer line across the street was not only a bureaucratic process involving in-person meetings and hearings, but would be a seller incurred expense and therefore was not economically feasible. In other words, the time and expense involved to connect to the sewer line across the street would not net the seller more money, in fact it would cause her to net less money. The more feasible option seemed to be trying to get one of the four bordering home owners to buy her lot, since there was no incentive for them to grant her a sewer easement without monetary compensation. The last option was to see if the city of Gibsonville would allow a septic system. They shot this final option down saying that if you have access to city water, you are required to connect to city sewer.

Determined not to give up on helping this seller sell her lot, the next thing I did was mail letters to the bordering property owners to see if any of them would be interested in buying her lot, since it seemed to me that it would be great investment opportunity for any one of them. I received a call from one of the letter recipients who expressed some interest and had a plumber come out to give him an estimate of how much it would cost to run a sewer line through his property. When the cost estimate came back at $20,000, his interest in the lot turned luke-warm. I followed up his response with a question by asking if his neighbor would be interested in going in on buying the lot with him? Unfortunately, he said that he didn’t get along with his neighbor, so this wasn’t an option either.

What to do now was the question? After exhausting all my efforts to no avail, I called up the Gibsonville Planning Department again and posed the question, how is this fair to this seller not to allow a permitted septic system when connecting to city water was not a viable option? I explained that if a septic permit was not permissible, then this seller had more or less an unmarketable property, not even worth about half its tax assessed value of $15,000. And, that if her property had city sewer access her property, it should sell for around $40,000+/-. About an hour later after we got off the phone I received an email from the Gibsonville Planning Department with an attached document they found that allowed an exception to allowing a septic system inside the city limits when connecting to city sewer is not “reasonable accessible”.

Finally, good news, but there was still more work to do in order to get this property ready to list and sell on the open market. First, we needed the seller to get a new and current survey of her property so that we could apply for a septic permit. Once the survey was completed, we would need to apply for a four-bedroom septic permit with the Alamance County Environmental Health Department.

After we obtained the new survey and septic permit, we would then need to get the listing agreement signed, since we now had a marketable and saleable property. Emailing or faxing the listing agreement was not an option, so we would need to snail mail it to the seller or drive to Caswell Beach to personally go over the listing agreement with her to sign. Determining it was in the best interest of my seller, I decided to literally and figuratively, Go the Extra Mile, and drove down to Caswell Beach on a Wednesday and returned home the next day. On Friday we listed her lot in MLS for $37,000, and on Sunday, we received two cash offers, both with a two week closing. The seller verbally accepted the best offer and I drove down again the following week for her to sign the contract. Two weeks later, we lined up a public notary and returned to Caswell Beach for my third and final trip for her to sign the deed and her seller documents. That afternoon, my seller arranged a light house tour for my wife and I, and afterwards we went out to dinner and spent the night at Sunset Beach. The next day we drove home and closed on the lot that afternoon.

In conclusion, going the extra mile for our seller paid off in more ways than one. First, in doing the right thing and looking after our seller’s best interest, we were able to sell her lot for top dollar which netted her three times more than she would have received if we had given up on finding a solution to the sewer/septic problem. Second, the satisfaction we received in helping our seller, far outweighed the monetary compensation we received from selling her lot. After factoring in the time value of money and the expenses we incurred, we only netted about $500 in selling her lot. In other words, going the extra mile to Black Diamond Real Estate means doing whatever it takes to lawfully, morally, and ethically serve the best interest of our buyers and sellers. First and foremost we are in the business of helping people, and if we do the best job we are capable in doing that, then we consider it to be a successful outcome, regardless of our bottom line.

Bert Ward
Black Diamond Real Estate

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