Not Your Typical Real Estate Transaction!
3552 Old Gettysburg Road
May 24, 2005
The subject property is a 15,000 SF two-story office building at 3552 Old Gettysburg Road in Lower Allen Township. There were tenants throughout the building with the owner’s office on the second floor. Unexpectedly the owner left the area due to personal matters, leaving all his business and personal belongings behind. Time passed and rent checks were not being cashed. The building started to fall into a state of disrepair with roof, electrical and HVAC issues. The building needed to be sold and we were having trouble contacting the owner. I was able to find his family and obtain a current mailing address and e-mail. Our communication was sporadic; it appeared he was severing all ties with people in this area. Fortunately I had the listing agreement for the lease and sale of his building. The sale price was $1.2 million. The lease rate was $8/SF NNN.
March 9, 2006
The owner was more inclined to lease than sell. Since he was in the Philadelphia area, I decided leasing was not his best option. Our Group decided to push the sale. I secured an offer on the property for $925,000, which was not enough for the owner. He felt the building was worth the asking price of $1.2 million.
May 12, 2006
The owner now realized the building was not worth his asking price. With the deferred maintenance and his current situation, we had a good opportunity to liquidate this real estate. It was time to speed up the disposition process since one of the financial institutions was starting a foreclosure action.
May 31, 2006
The foreclosure was now in play. Paperwork was filed to take the property to Sheriff’s Sale on September 6. This was the owner’s last resort; the property had liens by two different institutions. It was best to work out a plan ahead of the sale due to the large amount of debt. I was also working with a potential buyer and it was about to become more complicated.
July 24, 2006
My conversations with the owner began to deteriorate when he declined to accept phone calls. E-mail was now the only way to reach him. In addition to the claim a financial institution had on the real estate, an insurance company dispatched its attorney to deal with a $600,000 claim and possible case of fraud.
August 9, 2006
I had a $925,000 offer that the seller was finally ready to accept, but sending papers for him to sign was to no avail because he would not accept any documents.
August 13, 2006
I e-mailed the owner saying, “I will be in Philadelphia next weekend. Do you have any time for me?” I suspected I would lose the buyer due to inaction.
August 18, 2006
I received an e-mail that read, “Any time after 3 p.m. tomorrow should be good.” I was shocked the owner sent a response. I knew I needed a Power of Attorney (POA) to obtain his signature without any issues in the future. I contacted his local attorney and was reminded a POA requires a notary. It was Friday at 8 p.m. and I needed to locate a notary in Philadelphia for Saturday.
August 19, 2006
After numerous phone calls I secured a notary who was willing to meet Saturday night to sign the paperwork. I checked into my hotel and met with the owner at 5 p.m. I called the notary to relay our location. We decided to meet in the parking lot of a pharmacy, about five miles from our current location. At 6 p.m. under a parking lot light we met and signed the documents. I returned to Harrisburg the next day with a signed POA. The sale could now proceed.
August 21, 2006
I brought the signed POA to the settlement attorney. Settlement was scheduled with the seller (who would not be present), the buyers (three partners), three attorneys and multiple others. Eleven people were involved whose schedules had to be coordinated for settlement.
August 24, 2006
The Sheriff Sale was cancelled – the secured creditors were the only entities with liens on the building and all parties had worked out terms of the deal. The sewer authority and taxes would be paid from the proceeds at settlement.
September 6, 2006
All was going well until the week prior to settlement. I received a phone call from the settlement company informing us the POA form was out-of-date and could not be accepted. It did not have the most current preprinted language on the form. Settlement was off.
September 7, 2006
I had to decide how to get settlement back on track. In the meantime, contact with the seller had become impossible. After all these months we were back to where we started. The buyer was committed to the building but needed space to take his expanding operation. He was willing to wait, but he had to see results fairly soon. The only way to make this happen was to take an unannounced trip to Philadelphia and wait for the seller at his apartment building.
September 14, 2006
I went to the seller’s office to collect some personal items that might have meaning to him. I secured a current POA form to use but the notary I used before was out of town.
September 15, 2006
That afternoon I left for Philadelphia armed with a current POA, the client’s personal effects and a determination to make this deal happen. On the road I ran into heavy rain which made it impossible to secure a notary. No one was willing to commit in the bad weather. I would most likely need to meet with the client that night and again the following day to have the POA signed. I arrived at his apartment building at 5 p.m. I sat at a table in the lobby and started some paperwork. I was about to leave when I saw the seller come through the front door. He was quite surprised when I caught up with him in the lobby, but he agreed to meet for breakfast the next morning.
September 16, 2006
My phone rang as I was waiting in the lobby. It was the owner canceling his appointment. He had been taken to the hospital with a heart condition and was not able to meet. I asked him if we could meet later – this paperwork needed to be signed. He was willing to reschedule the meeting when he was released from the hospital. We agreed to meet in a few hours at a location near the hospital. We would find a notary, sign the paperwork and we would be ready for settlement. We planned on meeting at noon. I drove around the area and found a notary office that was close to our meeting place. I called the owner and confirmed our meeting. After he arrived, we discussed some of the events leading up to today and I gave him the personal items I brought for him. Then we went inside the notary office to sign the required papers. I drove back to Harrisburg with the signed papers and my mission accomplished.
September 18, 2006
I brought the signed paperwork to the settlement office. Settlement was rescheduled and everyone was still on board.
September 21, 2006
Settlement was complete. Looking back on the events leading up to settlement, it seems like an incredible journey that touched so many people in their business lives. It’s a story of perseverance, understanding and cooperation for the common good. It was a pleasure being an integral part of this transaction.