The Winners Are

Randy cooney color
By P.R. “Randy” Cooney
Publisher, Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business


In preparation for an upcoming seminar on selling listings, I recently posted on Facebook a unique request. I asked that real estate agents share a “going-the-extra-mile” type story in order to procure the sale of a listing. I offered $100 gift certificate for the very best story. In addition, I promised to feature the top three stories in the Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business.  WOW – it generated a lot of interest and an abundance of submissions. By the way the upcoming seminar that inspired this request is entitled “50 Ways to Lose a Listing – as in SOLD” on July 25th from 9:00am – 12:30pm. This is an ideal seminar for those of you seeking the very best, unique and effective ways to service and sell your listings.

The winners were as follows:

#1 submitted by Linda Rehwalt with RE/MAX Integrity

Michael was my first client when I started in real estate. He was a legally blind man who was taking care of himself and lived alone in Sun City without any family members living in Arizona. Michael was hiring me to sell his condominium. During our meeting, he told me that he never ate hot meals. I recall crying all the way back to the office after I left Michael’s house. Shortly afterwards, I decided to arrange for “Meals on Wheels” to deliver a meal to his home so he could have a hot meal every day. Then I had cleaners come into clean his home so I could get it on the market. Every time he called me, I would drive out to Sun City from Glendale to take him to the drycleaners, collect moving boxes, get his car fixed when he got into an accident (he wasn’t supposed to drive) and to purchase See’s candy for his friends. I would also visit him for coffee so he wouldn’t be alone all the time and was there to listen to stories of his life. I was deeply honored when he said “you are my angel.” Michael was an ex GE employee and when he retired, he was given a watch and a clock. Again, I was moved to tears when he wanted to give me his mother’s handmade tablecloths, linens, his GE watch and clock – personal items he cherished. My commission on the sale of his condo was less than $500; however, the experience I had with Michael is priceless. Michael, who was unable see, help me see on my very first sale that real estate is not about selling houses, but it’s about being a part of the fabric of people’s lives.

#2 submitted Carrier Bethel with Realty One Group

More than 20 years ago, I met a couple who were moving from Chicago to Phoenix. The couple had an 8 year old son and a 13 year old daughter. As I was finding this family a place to live, they asked me where I thought their daughter should go to high school since the family was new to the area. I highly recommended Xavier College Preparatory as a premier high school in Phoenix. I asked the daughter what she wanted to do with her life and she told me she wanted to be a doctor. On a whim, I told her if she ever became a doctor, I would attend her graduation. The couple took my advice and sent their daughter to Xavier where she graduated and then proceeded to University of Arizona to earn her college education. To finish her schooling, the daughter transferred to Krakow Poland and became a full M.D. and also the valedictorian of her class. Over time, I continued to keep in contact with the family and I just as we discussed when the daughter was 13 years old, she invited me to her graduation. I was humbled by the invitation, and flew to Poland to see her graduate. The daughter is now a pediatrician in New York City and married to a cardiologist with two beautiful twin girls of her own.  I am so proud to still be friends with the entire family. I believe real estate extends so far beyond the properties we list and sell and really comes down to creating endearing and lasting relationships throughout one’s career.

#3 submitted by Brian Amster and Paula Cotton with Beacon Property Solutions

In late 2006, my partner Paula Cotton and I received a request for a listing on a $1 million plus property in a divorce estate. The home was located in East Mesa near Las Sendas – it was a beautiful property. It was built in 2003, over 6,000 square feet on more than an acre lot, 5 bedroom/6 baths with a guest suite and stunning views of downtown Phoenix. Due to the divorce situation, the home was left empty. To make it more attractive to a buyer, we agreed to stage it with new, rented furniture – all was going well.

During the second week into the listing, Phoenix had a major cloudburst storm. Rain got into the attic and caused part of the ceiling to fall on our staged furniture. Evidently, the seller did not disclose a “small” roof leak in the SPDS. We reviewed the damage and proceeded to file a claim to cover the loss.

The insurance company declined the claim and refused to cover the water damage because the home was vacant. After battling with the insurance company to begin the rehabilitation, the owner stopped paying his mortgage payments, a mortgage broker who had a no-income / no appraisal loan (liar loan) that he said was “ready to close,” but it fell through at the last minute as mortgage companies started failing in the mortgage meltdown.

We dropped the price and attempted to sell the home “as is,” which was a little short for 3 of the 9 lien holders of about $950K total. We received an offer for $925K and the buyer qualified for a 100 percent of the loan, which made it possible to afford repairs to the damaged interior. For the second time, the mortgage company the buyer was working with could not close the deal and shortly after went out of business.

By now, the 3rd Trustee holder moved to foreclose on the note. He happened to be the uncle of the seller’s husband. The uncle was adamant that he was going to “get the property.” Then to complicate matters even more I received a call from the Title agency who informed me there was a new lien filed on the property for $2.4 million. The new lien was due to nonpayment of federal income taxes by the husband. The foreclosing Title agency didn’t know about the new lien because a title search was done a few days before and the new lien was not listed yet.

After all of the chain of events, the property ended up going to auction. I decided to attend the auction to let the foreclosing Title agency know about the new $2.4 million lien. The bank determined that the new lien was “unknown” and decided to delay the foreclosure for another 30 days.

The buyer and his broker put together a new financing package for $925k and “we” (the buyer, his broker, and the listing brokers Paula and I) hired an attorney to negotiate with the shorted lien holders and the IRS. The attorney was able to hammer out an agreement so we could close.  Amazingly, the financing failed to close a second time for underwriting issues.  At this point, I really needed another tactic so I decided to go back to the 3rd Trustee (foreclosing party) and make an offer of $2000 per week to delay the foreclosure for an additional 30 days. Luckily, the Trustee agreed to my offer.

After all the setbacks, we finally closed 2 weeks later. All lien holders got paid something and the seller and his ex-wife were able to complete the sale with only a short sale on their record. After paying the staging company for their damaged furniture, the pool service for repairs, the locksmith who had to rekey the property 3 times because someone kept breaking into the property with a key, the attorney for negotiating with the lien holders and the IRS, we did end up earning a commission from the sale. But more importantly, we learned a life lesson that was much more valuable:  no matter what the obstacle, anyone can find a way to get over it, around it or through it with enough commitment and persistence.

Look to see you on Friday July 25th for the unveiling of “50 Ways to Lose a Listing – As in SOLD”, where many Arizona’s top producers will share their strategies and secrets to selling their listings.


Randy Cooney is the Publisher for The Arizona Journal of Real Estate & Business and the President of the Success Institute & a licensed Real Estate Broker. Randy can be reached at 480-946-7576 or at To advertise in Arizona’s largest real Estate publication, go to our website at for a media kit.