Thirty-six Grand Street is, for the most part, a profitable property in our real estate portfolio. It has a number apartments, and most of them are rented out long-term. We were really not looking to sell it, but when we received an offer from a potential buyer, we decided to look into it.
Joe had been our tenant since we had bought the property, and though he was a slightly odd character, when he shared with us that his father, who lives close by, was interested in buying, we set up a meeting. We had a partially drawn-up contract ready and sat down with Joe’s father, Frank. After talking a bit, we noticed that Frank was a tad more than “slightly odd.” Wary of striking a deal with him, we called it off until we could investigate further.
We contacted our real estate broker who spoke with the man’s daughter. Sure enough, she confirmed that her father had no money and buying such a building was not at all a possibility. We dropped the deal.
The next month, when a representative of our company stopped by 36 Grand Street to pick up the rent from the tenants, he noticed that one apartment that had been empty for a while seemed to be inhabited. Our employee knocked on the door and a woman opened up. It was clear that she was living there. Our employee introduced himself and asked her who she was and what she was doing in our apartment.
“Your apartment?!” she asked, a bewildered expression on her face. “Frank, the owner of this building, rented it out to me!”
“I’m not sure where Frank comes into the picture here,” he answered, still confused. “This property has belonged to our company for the last seven years.”
As it turned out, the apartment had been a bit neglected and needed some work to clean it out and spruce it up. That had been the reason for its vacancy. Frank, in his limited intelligence, “thought” he had bought the property. He had offered potential tenants one month free rent in exchange for cleaning out the mess and fixing up the apartment. He had found a woman interested in the deal and she settled into her new home, thinking that Frank was her landlord.
We let the woman have her first month free, and after that, she began paying us rent. Hence an apartment that was not that easy to rent out was yielding the income we wanted.
Our real estate broker was flabbergasted when he heard our tale. In more than 50 years in the business, he had never heard of such a thing. That a potential buyer should “think” he owns a property that had never even moved into the closing stage… What a wondrous, over-the-roof way of finding new tenants!
Yes, opportunity sometimes knocks on the most unexpected of doors. Stand by to watch hashgachah swing them open wide.