Funny Stories About Real Estate and Land Sales

Like any job, some days at work are more memorable than others. Either an odd chain of events or a person behaving oddly, events unfold that stick in our minds and make for amusing short stories. Today I’ll share two of many tales from my years as a Realtor.

Last year I had the opportunity to sell a 3.5 acre tract of land right in front of the RDU Airport in Morrisville. It was an empty tract that had been foreclosed upon, and was now owned by the bank. I was hired on by the bank as a representative to help with the sale. Because of it’s size and location, the land had an estimated value of over two million dollars, but the bank just wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible. In order to do that, the bank priced it at just one million dollars, 50% of its market value. The down side was that the bank also refused to take the property through the process of rezoning. This means that any prospective buyers would get a great deal on the land, but couldn’t know for sure what they could or couldn’t do with it once they owned it. To make matters worse, the bank wanted cash deals only, no financing. And they wanted the deal closed within 30 days.

I decided to do a little homework, and met with the town planner of Morrisville to discuss our options. He was very familiar with the land in question, and made it very clear to me what his intentions were for it. In no uncertain terms, I was told it could not, under any circumstances, become a hotel, motel, or convenience store. I let him know I heard him loud and clear, and started to plan how I was going to sell this land with those limitations in mind.

A fifty percent discount has never been so hard to sell.

It didn’t take long for the phone to start ringing. In fact, once this land was up for sale, I don’t think the phone stopped ringing. The problem was that every interested buyer wanted to ensure the land was zoned properly for their intended use. The banks refusal to do so drove almost every potential customer away. Almost.

I finally get someone interested in the land who has no problem with the lack of zoning, paying cash, or closing so quickly. Perfect! This was great news! I couldn’t be happier! So I asked him, out of curiosity, what is it you plan to do with this land?

“We’re going to build a convenience store in the front, and build a motel in the back.”

Sigh.

I had to break the news to him that after my discussion with the town planner it was made abundantly clear to me that those are the two things he was not going to allow on that land. Despite my warnings, the customer seemed oddly undisturbed.

Much to my surprise, the deal went through. They closed within the 30 day windows, paid cash, and everyone walked away happy. As for the land, standing there today is a convenience store and motel. I can only imagine how the conversation between the buyer and town planner went to make that happen.

Another memorable sale was to a woman looking to purchase land in the area after moving away from her home in Maryland due to a contaminated well on her property. Before finalizing the purchase, she wanted to have the well on the net property thoroughly tested. Well testing is very common, and most tests are very comprehensive. On average they run about $150. For this woman, good wasn’t good enough. She contacted chemists from Duke University to run the tests. They arrived with two very large suitcases full of beakers, flasks, and plenty of other complicated testing equipment. Not only did they look for the run-of-the-mill contaminants, but for things like manganese, magnesium, nickle, and zinc. At the end of the day she paid $3500 to determine the water was clean, which was enough to convince her to buy the house.

On the day of the signing, we had just had our offices cleaned. When she and her husband arrive, they were incredibly sensitive to the chemical that were uses, and requested that we handle the paperwork elsewhere. Happy to oblige, we agree on a nearby restaurant to meet at. As my team and I were gathering all the documents and packing up to drive down the road, imagine my surprise to look outside and see the woman and her husband smoking cigarettes.

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