Too often, the focus of a real estate deal is whether it gets done or not. There are times deals get done at the expense of everyone’s happiness and sanity. The lesson is that a deal’s success relies on how satisfied a client is no matter how the sale turns out.
I have often said that “Habit” and “Ego” can be the greatest enemies of a good idea. I was soundly humbled and reminded of my words during a recent real estate transaction.
It was a happy day for my sellers and me. We received a full-price offer on their home. There were a couple of things to consider – a mortgage commitment, and home inspections, but that did not stand in the way of their euphoria.
Within a week, several inspectors visited the property. In the days that followed, we received the inspection reports. That euphoric feeling the seller experienced turned to anger and confusion. In particular, the septic system inspection stated the drain field failed, and the system needed replacement at a cost between $15,000 and $35,000. Simultaneously, the report said the system required a more thorough inspection – a bit confusing. Looking at the report, it seemed the inspector did the bare minimum in assessing the system.
The buyer terminated the transaction due to the inspection reports.
The seller asked me for advice, and I suggested we get a second opinion. We contacted a second inspector who performed the same minimal test as the first inspector and came to the same conclusion. He suggested replacing the system and estimated the cost to be around $22,000.
The seller was upset that the second septic inspector did nothing more than the first. I told him he would likely have to deal with the fact that the septic system would need replacement, or it would be tough to sell the property to anyone. After all, we had two inspectors give the same report. The seller did not accept that either inspector did; what he felt was an inferior assessment, and the full burden of the cost of replacement would be on him. I urged him to accept the outcome and move into the process of replacing the system.
Don’t Steal Hope
The seller told me they would hire a certified professional plumber who also specializes in on-site septic systems. The new inspection cost could run between $1,000 and $4,000. I told him I had seen this story before, and the outcome has never been positive. The effort and expense were likely futile and could cost valuable time and resources.
The seller was not happy with the whole process and decided the effort was worth it; otherwise, he would always feel he spent the money on a new system in vain. At that point, I realized his decision was not a matter of right or wrong. I apologized for not considering his feelings – “Stealing His Hope.”
On the day of the inspection, the seller contacted me to let me know that the plumber found the issue and corrected it. The cost was around $3,500, which, according to my math, was much better than any replacement numbers we received by far.
Moral of the Story
After 28 years of selling real estate in Berks County and the surrounding areas, I understand on-site septic systems better than most. My ego, fueled by my experience in all matters associated with housing, led me to believe my thoughts were absolute. Out of sheer habit, I was so focused on the real estate deal’s success that I failed to consider whether my client was satisfied with the process.
Both ego and habit are prevalent in the business of real estate sales. Beware of anyone using terms like “Never” or “Always” in real estate dealing. The real estate business is too speculative for that kind of mindset – And don’t let anyone “Steal Your Hope” – It is a mistake I will not be quick to repeat.
We now have a new buyer and looking forward to settlement. And, yes, everyone is happy!
Knowledge (and Humility) Is Power!