My 15K Mistake best real estate agent in los angeles best realtor in LA paul argueta talktopaul

You will eventually discover that Top Producing Real Estate Agents are master delegators. Our assembly line process is no different than any other profession that assigns each phase of the process to be managed and handled by a person who specializes in a specific task. Your Real Estate Agent will most likely not be involved in every step of the home selling or home buying experience. He or She will oversee the entire process ensuring that it is as seamless as possible, but there are very few to no closings that happen without something unexpected coming up.

I had something VERY unexpected happen to me recently.

It isn’t uncommon for me to draft up the offer or a counter language as a Google Doc, and then instruct my team to then convert the text into an actual contract using the text I provided. In some cases it’s as simple as a copy & paste. In other cases it’s much more complicated. Once it’s transferred to a contract I review it one more time and it is sent out for signatures, usually via some type of digital signature software. Right now my preference happens to be Docusign, but as we all know technology changes at a rapid pace and if you read this in the future, it might be something else.

Back to my mistake.

I had been working with a young couple who were ready to purchase their second home. This was a move up purchase so we had to sell their first home to purchase their second larger home for their growing family.

We finally found them a home that they liked. Everything went according to protocol. I showed them the home, prepped them for my recommended offer and walked them through the process. I guaranteed that we would include a request that the seller cover their closing costs, which was about $15,000.

Everything went as planned. I drafted up the language I wanted on a separate online doc, shared it with my team, had an offer drafted up, and sent it out Docusign. My clients signed it and I sent it out to the listing agent who represented the seller.

“I’ve done this thousands of times. It’s like autopilot.”

Long story short, the offer was accepted and we opened escrow. Everyone was thrilled and my clients couldn’t have been happier.

Until two weeks into the escrow when we all discovered that the language requesting that the seller credit the buyer $15,000 for their closing costs was not in the offer.

We had done this hundreds, if not thousands of times before. I should have reviewed the contract once more prior to sending it to the agent. I could have had a team member review it or me one more time. One 5 minute read would have changed the course of everything.

Ultimately I was going to have to own this mistake, and I was at peace with that. I had spoken to the Listing Agent who represented the seller and She let me know that the seller’s were not going to credit my clients a cent and that if the request had been included in the offer they wouldn’t have accepted to begin with.

The real question was how to mitigate this loss, keep my clients happy, and ultimately salvage my reputation. Oh by the way, midway through the transaction I discovered that my clients worked for Disney and their boss at work was the mother of one of the children that my son plays High School basketball with. It couldn’t haven’t gotten better.

I remember how heavy the phone felt on the morning that I had to break the news to my clients and share with them my proposal on how to fix what was ultimately my mistake.

Here were their options: 

  1. Tell them to cancel the transaction
  2. Tell them to pay for their own closing costs
  3. Offer to pay a portion of the closing costs
  4. Pay their closing costs with my commission

The sellers of the home had already informed me they weren’t going to pitch in. My clients really wanted this home, and quite frankly, their income and savings was such that they had more than enough to cover the cost of their loan, the $15K that I had failed to negotiate into the contract, but it was the principle of it all that kept me up the night before.

Long story short, I offered to use my commissions to cover closing costs. All $15,000 of it. It was a little more complicated than this because I had to follow RESPA laws that prevent kick backs so we structured it as a reduced commission and seller eventually kicked in the difference, but in the end I made zero dollars on this transaction and I was fine with this.

“I made ZERO dollars on this transaction.”

I made a guarantee and I needed to follow through on what I had promised. I knew that even if we cancelled this deal, I wouldn’t be able to salvage the our relationship and that they would find another agent to represent them anyway, so I would lose their business which to me was the same as not getting paid on this deal. I figured that even if I didn’t make any money, at least they’d get their home and it would pay off in the form of referrals.

Wrong. That didn’t happen either.

Despite the fact that I made an error AND took the financial responsibility of that error, my clients still held me to the fire, and when I asked for an online review of my services they chose not to write one. I don’t hold any ill feelings. I’ll still invite them to my company Christmas Party every year, and from now on I review every contract that goes out, one more time.

I’m not sharing this to brag, and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy. No one bats 1.000 in anything. Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Get back in the game.

I look forward to working with you!

– Paul