Sale statistics don’t tell prospective clients what they really need to know. In today’s lightning fast, high tech world, word of mouth is still the most meaningful and effective communication.
The question is how to accomplish word of mouth on a website?
In the beginning I deeply appreciated client’s thank you notes and letters, but it wasn’t crucial paperwork. I didn’t keep them. Then I remembered something.
I was the Virginia Highway Department’s Resident Engineer in charge of Shenandoah and Frederick Counties. My state bridge crew was building a new bridge on Route 675 west of Edinburg. We were using huge, pre-stressed concrete box girders for the deck. The box girders came in on low-boy tractor trailers. On both of his trips one of the truck drivers got out of his cab, grabbed a rope and got down into the stream to help our undermanned crew. He helped guide the massive girders into perfect position on the bridge abutments. I sent him a thank you letter and sent copies to our district engineer, two assistant district engineers and the equipment superintendent (the man’s immediate boss). In the daily hustle, I didn’t think anything more about it. I was promoted to Resident Engineer in Charge of Maintenance in Fairfax and Arlington Counties. Three years later I left the Department (now VDOT). Many years later I returned to the retirement luncheon of my fine shop superintendent in Edinburg. I introduced myself to four men at a table. One said, “I know who you are!” He reminded me about that day at the bridge on Route 675. Then I knew exactly who he was. He opened his wallet, pulled out a folded, worn paper and opened it on the table. There was my signature. He said, “I worked for the Highway Department for thirty five years. This is the only “Thank You Letter” I ever got! I always carry it with me.” My allergies kicked in right then and I had to wipe my eyes.
I realized people may be pleased and grateful, but only a few send a formal “Thank You. If people take that much trouble I should hang on to their notes and letters. I didn’t know I would have to keep buying bigger and bigger three ring notebooks
The wonderful sellers and buyers I have worked with over the past twenty five year have experienced a wide variety of sales and some unique problems. Many have become Judy’s and my good friends. I could only cover a unique sampling of the hundreds of sales. I asked a few if they would mind me sharing some unusual happenings and unique real estate details of their sales and their “Thank You”. They are overwhelmingly in favor!
So here it goes!
|Bob and I worked together on the capital campaign at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Centreville, Virginia. We visited seventeen parish households requesting pledges toward our church’s expansion. With various others I visited fifteen more. Our capital campaign company wanted to hire me to lead capital campaigns. I didn’t want to be away from home for such long stretches of time, but the whole experience made me think about a new career in sales.
Just before Judy and I moved to the Outer Banks, poor Bob’s shoulder surgery placed him in a cast with his arm elevated – a captive audience. They were thinking of selling their home and traveling the country in an RV. I suggested a rental home at the Outer Banks. Live at the Outer Banks in the winter and stay in their oceanfront family retreat in Maine in the summer.
Judy and I moved to the Outer Banks in August, 1994. I went to classes and got my Salesman and Broker’s licenses. Bob and Ellen stayed with other good friends on their first visit here. A rainbow distinctly ended over 290 Hillcrest. I saved the best for last – home number seven. They loved it, but the price was a little too high. I came up with a rent free, six month delayed possession so the sellers could build their new house – at a reduced sale price of course. Bob and Ellen bought their house in early 1995. With the income from the house, they both retired two years early. This was my first sale as a newly minted real estate agent on the Outer Banks.
In March, 2012 my new found friends, Bob and Carol Turner, bought Bob and Ellen’s house for $400,000. Now, I sorely miss my deceased, wonderful friend Bob. But Ellen and their family rent “their house” back each summer for a family get together.
“RAINBOW’S END” is forming new memories and radiates years of happiness and joy!
|BOB & ELLEN STRICKLAND|
290 Hillcrest Drive
Southern Shores, NC
|In 1998 a five bedroom oceanfront house came on the market. It was exactly what Jimmy and Candy wanted. It’s the only time I’ve done this, but I kept calling them. Finally I was calling them every fifteen minutes. Jimmy and their son finally made the four hour trip to see it. Jimmy called Candy from my office. At 8:30 PM that Saturday night he signed the Offer. Jimmy and occasionally their older daughter came down on the weekends as Candy and their five sons spent many happy summers in that house.
Southern Shores houses used to be concrete slab, whitewashed cinder block walls with flat, tar & gravel roofs. The idea was if, or when, the ocean over washed the dunes, the water could just flow through the house. After the storm the sand could be hosed out, electric heaters replaced, new straw mats thrown down on the floor and the house was ready to go.
It’s fun to see families grow as one handsome and four pretty members are added and tiny ones appear. Then more space is needed. In the fall of 2010 they called me about the original, 1950 vintage “monkey head house”. The listing agent said the seller had a contract to tear the house down in two days. I told him if anything was touched, we didn’t want the house. The demolition contract was cancelled. We finally succeeded in buying the house. The two car garage became a separate living area. The interior of the main house was completely remodeled and updated. The space in between became a pergola type covered garden. Their contractor took great pains to keep the exterior looking like an old 1950’s whitewashed “Bomb Shelter” on a concrete slab. It’s just the way Jimmy and Candy want it. The old growth plantings add to the antique feel and charm of their oceanfront home. In my hot rodding days we called this a “sleeper”.
|JIMMY & CANDY HEYWARD|
128 Ocean Boulevard
106 Ocean Boulevard
Southern Shores, NC
|A Note from Candy:|
|This nicely maintained, 1972, four (4) bedroom home with a pool offers an easy walk straight down the dune, through the traffic signal, to the beach. It will be an excellent weekly rental.
One of Murphy’s Laws is “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong!” The seller listed her home with me and it went under contract in a few days. Then the heat pump compressor failed in the 20 year old system. The home inspector did a terrible report. The buyers backed out and that same day bought a house their agent had just listed for $76,000 more. – HMMM!
-A back-up contract went into effect with agreement the buyers would pay a higher price to cover the new heat pump system. They wouldn’t submit needed paperwork to their lender.
-A back-up contract went into effect. Those buyers were going to Europe for 12 days so we granted extra “due diligence” time. The kitchen had two year old stainless steel Whirlpool appliances – except for one. The inspector wrote that a kitchen appliance was broken – OVEN! It was a TRASH COMPACTOR used to store bulk dog food. The buyers bailed based on this incompetent home inspection!
-The next buyers, a family group, got within a few days of closing before their out of state lender insisted the man’s father co-sign for the loan. The answer was “NO” – smart father!
-The next back-up contract failed due to an inspection report we weren’t allowed to see-????
We finally sold and closed on this home after having it under contract SIX (6) DIFFERENT TIMES.
Our final asking price was $346,300. We sold it for $333,000 – CASH!
My seller stuck right with me as we fought to complete the sale of her home at a fair price.
|(Name withheld at seller’s request)|
(Street address withheld at seller’s request)
Southern Shores, NC
|A Note and Gift from the Seller:|
|I was the duty agent when Robert and Jennifer came in. They wanted a modest, well maintained, three bedroom home as close to the ocean as possible. I gave them a tour of the northern Outer Banks and showed them various aspects of life here. Then we started looking for a house for them. I searched the Multiple Listings. Their small children were patient and hopeful as we physically searched areas. What they wanted just wasn’t available. They were leaving right after breakfast the next morning.
Judy and I were just sure it had to be there. We searched many streets again. Then we started on First Avenue of the Seacrest Village cul-de-sac’s to the ocean. It was turning into a real “snipe hunt”, but we kept trying. We worked our way north street by street until we turned down Eleventh Avenue. There was a brand new For Sale sign that wasn’t there earlier that afternoon. There was nothing in the MLS. It was late so I waited to call the agent before work the next morning. He gave me all the details.
On May 28, 2001 two happy parents drove home with two excited children. We closed on the sale on July 2, 2001. The asking and sale price was $180,000. They are still enjoying their beach house all these years later as I’m writing this in March, 2019.
|ROBERT & JENNIFER GRIFFIN|
21 Eleventh Avenue
Seacrest Village, Southern Shores, NC
|A Note from Robert & Jennifer:|
|Parker & Marilyn, a semi-retired couple, supplied our high end restaurants from their asparagus garden which covered their back yard. I listed their two-bedroom, one bath, home on December 6, 1999 for $ 129,000. It was, and is, the lowest priced home I’ve sold on the Outer Banks.
Before they left for Florida for the winter they asked me to look after his Ford Ranger pickup truck and her indoor plants. I put them on a two week schedule of plant watering and truck driving. I checked the oil, filled the gas tank and windshield washer. When the weather got cold I pumped up the tires. Every two weeks I drove the truck to keep it lubricated and keep the battery charged. Then I parked his truck between the two pampas plants at their entrance just as he requested.
They called me one spring morning. They had arrived home at 1:30 AM in pounding rain. Marilyn told Parker, “Your truck hasn’t moved since we left. It’s not going to start!” She was shocked when the headlights came on and the truck eased up the driveway. When they got inside all of her plants were lush green – even the tropical palms that reached the ceiling.
Their home sold for $ 129,000. I went to say goodbye the day they left. They presented me with this gift certificate, but they had a problem. They didn’t have room in the truck for two blanket chests. I told them I thought the chests were valuable and I really didn’t need them. I was sure the cedar lined, ball and claw foot, mahogany chest was worth quite a bit. They said they knew they were valuable and insisted I take the chests. They understood I would probably sell them. I reluctantly loaded the chests in my van.
I took both chests to River City Auctions for the upcoming antique sale. I didn’t know if the auctioneer/owner was always as excited as he was when he saw the chests. The stained, battered, simple pine chest with the insert shelf and missing key had been in Parker’s family for ages. It brought twice as much as the mahogany beauty. Those chests really were valuable.
|PARKER & MARILYN WHITTLE|
307 Wax Myrtle Trail
Southern Shores, NC
|A Note & Gift from Parker & Whittle:|
|In September, 2011 I listed this house for sale for a grieving widow whose husband was hit by lightning while jogging on our Southern Shores beach. This had been their dream home and they wanted to retire here. The original price was too high. It was an emotional journey as we lowered the price. She was pleased when Shaun and Amy purchased it through me in September, 2012.
Amy and their two children stayed here most of each summer and Shaun came down on the weekends. It was a happy house again. Then, as children will, they got into summer camps and sports camps and wanted to stay with all of their friends in the summer.
When they weren’t here, I kept an eye on their house and took care of or reported maintenance needs. If a plastic chair was broken, I broke it up smaller so it would fit in the garbage bin and so on. They had photos and memories of wonderful summers and hated to sell their vacation home. Reluctantly they listed their house with me in August, 2017.
I like to keep my listings in good shape. One agent’s buyers accidentally broke a latch on a slider door. The Anderson latch was no big deal. I personally replaced it at my own cost. I just appreciated the other agent notifying me. Due to age and normal wear, the hot tub, carpet, & some furniture needed to be replaced. Our asking price was $449,000. It sold for $436,000 with a $5,500 concession to the buyers toward replacements.
|SHAUN & AMY FANNING|
119 Sea Oats Court
Southern Shores, NC
|A Note from The Fanning Family|
|A Note from Another Satisfied Client:|
|Three years ago, I began working with Jeff and Allison in their journey toward buying a home. Two years of financial preparation followed. Once they were ready, we viewed many homes. I knew the owners and the couple who rented the home that my clients ultimately bought. The home has a large open living area and is well maintained. Its high elevation eliminates the need for flood insurance.
The final owner passed away and the renting couple moved out. The estate’s asking price was $299,000. On October 2, 2018 we went to contract for $289,000. The estate said the house was completely paid off, but my buyer’s attorney discovered that the deceased owner’s loan was still on record in the Dare County Courthouse. It took time to track down the final lender, find the records of the old loan and get a release letter to expunge the loan.
For an FDA loan, the appraiser showed that the seller had to replace a smoke detector and a trim piece on an Anderson bay window. The contractor that I recommended installed the smoke detector but was quite ill when he delivered the trim and caulk. I removed the remainder of the old trim piece and cut, caulked and fitted (pounded) the new trim piece into place.
The estate credited my buyers $3,500 to cover the small repairs and the additional fee my buyer’s lender charged to extend their loan. We closed and recorded the sale on December 12, 2018.
|255 Hillcrest Drive|
Southern Shores, NC
|A Note From Allison & Jeff:|
|Ann Nygaard listed her beach retreat for sale with me for $319,000. A buyer saw it in our MLS (Multiple Listing Service) and wanted to view it immediately. Ann’s wonderfully maintained home went under contract that first afternoon. Selling that quickly made me nervous about our asking price. The other agent advised they had been trying to put another home under contract for two weeks, but the seller wouldn’t be reasonable (reduce the price). His buyer was fed up and angry. Then the buyer saw Ann’s house – exactly what they wanted – Done!
I made a number of suggestions prior to listing Ann’s house. For example, wooden slatted sand fencing (up North it’s snow fence) was around the bottom of the home’s pilings and wood was stored under the house. I spotted evidence of termite activity. I asked Ann’s family to remove every bit of untreated wood from under and around the house. If there are termites within fifty feet of a house, the whole house must be treated! Ann’s house passed inspection with flying colors!
We closed and recorded the $320,000 sale in forty-one (41) days. Ann offered $5,000 toward the buyer’s closing costs yielding a net sale of $315,000. When I checked the Closing Statement I discovered that the buyer was paying $1,523 annually for flood insurance. The site of the home is at least twenty feet above mean high water (MHW) and the pilings put the first floor eight feet higher than that. I advised the buyer’s agent so that he could inform his client.
Months later I contacted the buyer on another matter. As we chatted, I gave them a creative, low cost solution to a chronic erosion problem. I asked if they had removed the flood insurance. In the flurry of paperwork at closing the buyer forgot their agent had relayed my message to them. They eliminated the unnecessary expense immediately.
Buying a home is exciting, but can be confusing too.
|243 Sea Oats Trail|
Southern Shores, NC
|List Price $319,000
Sold Price $320,000
|A Note from Ann:|
|List Price: $ 324,000.00 Listed By: Co-broking agent
Sold Price: $ 305,000,00 Sold By: John W. Chiles, Jr., Broker, Shore Tern Realty, Inc.
Concessions: Seller made some repairs and paid $ 5,000.00 toward my buyer’s closing costs.
|264 N. Dogwood Trail|
Southern Shores, NC
|This 3 bedroom, 2 full bathroom, 1.406 Sq. Ft. home was constructed in 1982. It is located on a secluded, 1.08 Acre, CANALFRONT lot. N. Dogwood Trail is a long cul-de-sac so there is no through traffic. Higher end homes have been built on the sound front and canal front lots. This lot rises up sharply from the canal so the home is in the “x” Flood Zone and no flood insurance is required. My buyers were referred to me by a previous client. They enjoy remodeling and are very creative. I can’t wait to see the finished product!|
|Friday, December 16, 2016 --- Listing Date
Wednesday, December 21, 2016 ----- Contract Date
Monday, February 6, 2017 ------ Closed and Recorded
|List Price: $ 133,000.00 Listed By: John W. Chiles, Jr., Broker, Shore Tern Realty, Inc.
Sold Price: $ 129,000.00 Sold By: Co-Broking Agent
|310 Hillcrest Drive|
Southern Shores, NC
|My clients wanted to sell one of their two, adjoining, high elevation dune top lots. Their preference was to sell this lot. This large lot is located among nice homes and new homes were being built around it. In order to build, some trees need to be removed and it will require significant fill material. These factors were taken into account when we priced it. Once this sale was recorded in the courthouse, we removed the listing for the second lot – the lot my clients wanted to keep all along.|
|I was the listing agent on: Saturday, August 6, 2016
A Co-Broking Agent Put it Under Contract On: Wednesday, February 9, 2017
Sold & Closed: Tuesday, March 28, 2017
|224 Hillcrest Drive|
Southern Shores, NC
|List Price: $ 268,400
Sold Price: $ 260,000
|The owners of this property called me in 2012 about information I had sent them about another property. Since then we corresponded and had a number of pleasant meetings. When they decide to sell, they listed with me.
They used their three bedroom, two full bath, 1,248 sq. ft., 1984 home as a secluded vacation retreat for the past 17 years. They maintained it so well the brown shag carpet and vinyl pine paneling are in excellent shape. The vinyl siding and architectural shingle roof are in excellent shape. The home is well built and rock solid.
When they came to the Outer Banks to list their home with me, they discoved one of their outdoor heat pumps and hot water heater had failed. They don’t do things half way. They installed a brand new dual zone (2) Trane heat pump system and a brand new hot water heater. I connected them with my preferred plumbing company and they had all new plumbing installed for their outside shower. My son helped them with major limb and tree removal and brush hogging so the house can be seen from Hillcrest Drive.
On August 6,2016, we listed the house for $ 279,000.00 with a 5.0% brokerage fee. If Shore Tern Realty, Inc. was also the selling agent, the commission for both sides of the transaction would be 4.0%.
We had a large number of showings, but no takers. In the meantime, Hurrican Matthew hit. The home sits up high and was protected by the dune in back. I did clear fallen branches and raked and swept their long concrete driveway. I discovered the outisde shower’s cover over the water valves under the house was missing. I drained the outside shower and installed insulation and a new wooden cover plate over the valves.
We lowered the price to $ 268,400.00. Very quickly we had more showings. My sellers signed a contract for $ 260,000.00.
On very worrisome thing happed right as we were ready to close the sale. Scammers attempted to steal my seller’s equity by E-mailing a fictitious change in the routing of their funds. I have worked for many years with the buyer’s paralegal. She knows I ALWAYS SHOW UP IN PERSON to handle anyting of significance for my clients. She responded to the scammers “NICE TRY!” We closed and recorded the sale in the Dare County Courthouse.
My seller’s equity was wired to their account right on time and without further incident.