Upper Manhattan- Solve the Problem
Posted on March 12, 2018

Bohemia Blog by Agent Jeremiah Wiggins

Bohemia Realty Group’s Real Estate agent, Jeremiah Wiggins offers advice to real estate agents on how to be an effective problem solver.

Solve the problem! This is my most common refrain when training new agents at Bohemia. Whether it's an imperfect board package, rental application, someone on your team dropping the ball, or your own mistake - Solve the problem.

There are seldom perfect real estate deals (I can count them on one finger), so our most basic function as Real Estate Agents is to be problem solvers. Because, let's face it. When someone is looking for a Real Estate Agent, it's because they have a housing problem. Either they're looking for housing or they're looking to unload housing (or both)! Solve the problem. And your dexterity in solving problems is only as strong as the weakest link on your team, and your ability to keep calm and carry on while your clients might just be having the most epic of meltdowns.

In my previous life as a carpenter, my mentor always used to say, the mark of a good carpenter isn't one who doesn't make mistakes, but one who can make a mistake and yet know how to fix it. The same holds true in Real Estate. And it's the collective experience of your agent and team that will carry you to a satisfying resolution.

One example is this particular postcard from the edge of Real Estate...

On the eve of a client's board interview, Shortly before 11pm, I received a troubling text from my buyer:

"Jeremiah, I just noticed that the bank docs on the board package have the wrong loan amount, purchase price and down payment. Is that going to be a problem."

Um.... well, yeah. But let's be sure. This package and/or these documents were looked at by a myriad of professionals including myself, my sales director, the seller's agent, her broker, the bank and underwriters, attorneys, managing agent, the board, not to mention my clients who signed all these documents. Surely this was case of bleary eyed nerves on the part of my buyer.

I quickly bring up the PDF of the 150 page package to confirm all was, in fact, well. But..... it was not! He was right. The numbers were off and none of us caught it. Not a single one. How the hell could this have happened? The contract of sale is clear. The deal sheet is clear. Where did these numbers come from? Ugh! Don't panic. Gotta solve the problem. But first, I need to calm my client.

"Don't panic. Let me work this out."

"Ok. But are we f*cked?!?!? (They'd heard enough urban legends about NYC Coop boards and board interviews to be near hysterics)

"Nope. Let me work this out. It'll be fine."

Immediately, I email the loan officer from the bank. The only problem is, I knew he'd recently moved on to another bank. But he was the point person who drafted these docs and I knew, with his work ethic, he would be the first line of defense. So, I shoot him a quick email explaining the mishap, not expecting a reply until morning.

But not 10 minutes later, an email is received and it's the loan officer, now at another bank, springing into action. We confirm the mistake (and, understand here, he's limited since he no longer has access to the docs from the lending institution) and he begins delegating to the team that's taken over the loan. But we need a new loan application, commitment letter, and three Original Aztech Recognition Agreements signed by an attorney before the board interview the next evening. That's less than 24 hours. Can it be done? He assures me it can. And I trust him. Because let's face it: what choice do I have?

The next morning, starting at 7am, the emails begin. Admittedly, the commitment letter and loan app are the easy part. But the Aztechs* are a different story. Those are always the docs that seem to come last. How on earth would we get them in a few hours. But I'm assured they will be ready by 1pm that day and could be picked up from the attorney's office on the East side. Trust my team!

At this point I feel it's best to consult with the Managing Agent for the Coop in question to figure out the best way to address this snafu with the board so they don't feel they've been blindsided or that they weren't intentionally being misled. I'd already been alerted by the Seller that there was a particular member who had a bone to pick with something in their tax return, so my guard was up.

The woman at the coop board was a bit dumbfounded (how'd she not catch this) but suggested I scan all the new docs and email them ahead of the interview with a clear and cogent explanation. I also suggest that I have my clients bring the replacement pages with them in duplicate as required by the board, just to be sure we're crossing our T’s and dotting our I’s. She agreed and the plan began to reveal itself. I would have my clients pick up the Aztechs* from the attorney and bring them along with the original signed commitment letter and loan application and make the necessary copies at the office so they could bring them to the board interview.

I printed out new cover letters (dividers that break up the board package in to clear sections) for each new section. My clients breathlessly arrived and gave me the new pages. I made the necessary pages and assembled each new section and handed them back to my clients. But before they left, I had to pull this hydrogen filled zeppelin back to earth. Because, oh, the humanity!

"Guys! Breathe! None of this matters. Truly. You're going to be fantastic at this meeting. And when this comes up and it seems like an issue, it's not your fault. Truly. You can blame me, the bank, whomever your want. But it's not YOUR fault and that's what matters. You deserve this apartment and you're going to be approved. This was a hiccup. Nothing more. And we fixed it in record time."

They seem moderately calmed but still on edge. After all, it is a board interview for an NYC apartment. And there's been enough horror stories written about them to become legendary. But, happily, this wasn't one of them.

They went to the board interview which turned out to be nothing more of a "welcome to the coop" meet and greet and when my clients brought up the incorrect bank docs, (the managing agent never alerted the board - of course) it was regarded as an inconsequential blip in an otherwise impeccable board package and interview.

Crisis averted! 2 weeks later we closed and much to my surprise, the loan officer who literally pulled this all together in the 11th hour and had no official reason to be there, showed up to congratulate my clients. Pure class and one of many reasons I have kept this lender on my referral short list. He had nothing to gain by showing up. It was no longer his loan. But he invests in all of his clients beyond the bottom line, which is the same work ethic I employ and what I teach all the agents on my team.

Solve the problem! If you assemble the best team with your buyer's agent, lender, and attorney, they will ensure you get to the closing table no matter what the obstacle.

*Aztechs: An Aztech form is an agreement between three parties: the bank, the co-op and the shareholder. It is primarily an understanding between the co-op corporation and the bank lender which is signed and acknowledged by the shareholder.

Let’s solve the problem! Assemble the best team with your buyer’s agent, lender, and attorney to enu
Let’s solve the problem! If you assemble the best team with your buyer's agent, lender, and attorney, they will ensure you get to the closing table no matter what the obstacle. In a typical real-estate transaction with so many moving parts, 9 times out of 10, an obstacle will surely present itself. You want a team that can adroitly handle both the simplest roadblock and the most catastrophic. Your team begins with an experienced sales agent (who is essentially your team captain). Give me a call to find out more and together let's figure out if you're ready to assemble YOUR team!