Rookie Diary: William Pecora Deals With the Deal That Fell Through

May 1, 2004

William Pecora, 25

RE/MAX Real Estate Ltd.
Brick, N.J.

May 2004

Kind of a mixed month, I guess. First the downside: the land deal I’ve been working on seems to have fallen apart.

This is the 29 acres I mentioned last month that I had listed at $300,000. Most of it is wetlands, but we thought there might be a few usable acres.

A buyer signed a contract contingent on the completion of an environmental study. Well, the study is now complete and seems to indicate there’s no real cost-efficient way to use the land.

There is a buildable acre or two but the only way to get at it is to build a road through the wetlands, which is illegal in New Jersey. We also could build a bridge across the land, but that’s too expensive.

I guess we need to talk to an attorney to find out what our options are at this point. The reality, though, is the property may be useless, in which case the best option would probably be to donate it to the state or a charity and get a tax deduction. VERY disappointing after all the time and advertising money I put into this.

On the upside, however, I found a buyer for my other land listing—a 14.5-acre parcel—and I’m getting both sides of the transaction!

The price is $900,000. The buyers—two guys who have a development company—found me via my Web site.

But it gets better. The buyers want to subdivide the parcel and build nine houses that will sell for about $500,000 apiece. If I play my cards right, I think I can get the nine houses as well.

I’m trying to instill in them that I’m consistent and thorough, and don’t waste time. They are mainly commercial developers—they do a lot of strip centers—so I think my knowledge of the residential business could benefit them a great deal.

This is one of the first times I’ve handled both sides of a transaction. I definitely like it. It cuts down on the number of steps and allows you to track a deal every step of the way. When you’re dealing with another salesperson, there are always delays because everybody’s schedule is different.

It’s a little tricky, though, because you’re representing both sides and their interests don’t always coincide on every point. I handle it by being totally above-board. I get permission before I release anybody’s information. I always double-check everything to make sure I’m not crossing any ethical boundaries.

Finally, I’m looking into doing some radio spots. I can get a package of 15-second spots on a local station for about $1,000. I don’t really hear much real estate advertising on the radio around here, and I’m wondering if it might give me an edge in the market.

But I don’t really know anything about this kind of advertising. Is there anybody out there who has done it and can advise me on what I need to know?

Robert Sharoff is an architectural writer for The New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and Chicago Magazine. With photographer William Zbaren, he has produced books highlighting the architecture of Detroit and St. Louis. He is a former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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