Residential Agents Share Tales Of The Art Of Closing
Written by Marilyn Bowden on July 13, 2000
By Marilyn Bowden
Successful residential real estate agents say they often have to resort to creative strategies to close a sale.
Charlette Seidel, vice president of Coldwell Banker’s Coral Gables office, says one of her agents had to take to the water to track down a seller’s signature.
"The buyer wanted to move up a closing date," she says. "The seller was away fishing.
"The agent got in a boat, went to where he knew the seller liked to fish and found him. He got the papers signed, drove back to Miami and closed the deal."
A new agent was having trouble closing a sale, Ms. Seidel says, because the prospective buyers kept getting cold feet.
After they missed two appointments to sign the contract, she says, "the agent went home and packed a suitcase.
"She drove to their house and said, `I’m staying here until you sign the contract.’"
She got the signature.
Another agent in Ms. Seidel’s office had clients who wanted to buy into a luxury townhouse development, she says, but the homeowners’ association allowed only small dogs. They had a 60-pound Labrador.
"The agent took a picture of the dog," she says, "and wrote an affidavit about how long it had been with the family and how gentle it was and so on.
"She went door to door with it. The homeowners voted unanimously to allow the dog."
In another case, Ms. Seidel says, a young buyer looked out the window of a new home to find the backyard was filled with tombstones. It seems the former owner, a stone engraver, had forgotten to take them with him.
The real estate agent made arrangements to have them packed up and shipped to the seller in Ocala, she says, before the spooked buyer would set foot in the house again.
Twice, Ms. Seidel says, female agents have negotiated contracts while in labor.
Carlos Justo, a Wimbish Riteway Realtor who says his average price range is more than $6 million, says he finds himself in a lot of different situations requiring flexibility and creativity.
Mr. Justo — who sold both the Stallone and Versace estates — says he routinely deals with industrialists, billionaires and celebrities.
"When you sell hundreds of millions of dollars worth of real estate in one year," he says, "you have to be flexible. Mostly you’re working with the buyers’ ambassadors and middlemen trying to make things happen."
One innovative tactic Mr. Justo says he uses is to educate clients about the area via helicopter rides around the city.
When Rosie O’Donnell bought a house on Star Island, he says, "it meant moving a client from an existing house to another house on Star Island."
For the most part celebrities want privacy, he says. "We don’t want to be blabbermouths. Security and privacy is of the utmost importance."
Gilberto Ocampo, who works out of the Keyes Co.’s Key Biscayne office, says he sold a condo sight-unseen through the Internet to a buyer from Holland.
"He showed up in my office and wanted to see properties with water views," he says. "I spent the next day with him looking all over Brickell. He said he didn’t like any of it. I told him I’d contact him if anything came up.
"After he left I sent out letters to properties that might fit the bill and had pictures taken with an electronic camera, right down to the floors and windows."
The buyer liked what he saw, Mr. Ocampo says, and negotiated the contract and paid in cash before setting foot on the property.