The value of a buyer's agent: the forgotten storage unit.

Real Estate Agent with Thompson Company, REALTORS® 240.593.2860 MD594797

(Dedicated) buyer's agents do A LOT more than just open a few doors. In this series, I'll highlight a few tales from the Real Estate trenches to emphasize just that. 

The value of a buyer's agent: the forgotten storage unit. 

Last year, I worked with wonderful clients who first sold their family home and then purchased a condo in a 55 and better community in Howard County, MD. The sale of their home took a lot of preparation - on the house itself and emotionally - but had an incredibly happy ending selling 63K above list price and with a free rent-back period. Purchasing the retirement condo was a different story, however. In a highly competitive market, it took numerous home tours, a few offers (despite being cash buyers with no financing nor appraisal contingencies and offering a quick close), and moving into a temporary rental before we found the one and ratified a contract. 

When we did, things moved along quickly and smoothly until we received the title commitment. I reviewed the title search and a mysterious delinquency of $227 caught my eye that the closing attorney had not brought up as a potential issue. Since we offered a quick settlement within two weeks, the title search came back just a couple of days prior to closing. The preliminary closing statement that I received for review did not show a collection from the seller in the amount of $227. 

Time is of the essence. To avoid a closing delay, I had to figure out quickly what the story was behind those $227. 

I went back and forth with the title company who didn't know. I pointed it out to the listing side but the seller also had no idea. 

So, I pulled county records, tax bills (that weren't very clear and mislabeled the storage unit as a parking spot which added to the confusion), and the recorded subdivision plat, and read through the condo docs for a clue. 

It was a puzzle but little by little I put the pieces together to reveal that the storage unit on the ground floor of the condo building was separately deeded and did not just convey with the condo per the seller's condo disclosure addendum. The seller had no idea that it came with its very own tax bill and had never paid the property taxes due. The $227 was a few years of tax payments plus late fees. 

I shared my research with the title company who then confirmed my findings and added the $227 as a seller charge to be collected at closing and disbursed to the county. 

I also asked the listing agent to revise the condo disclosure addendum to reflect that the storage unit was separately deeded and taxed and both parties signed off on it. 

$227 may not seem such a big deal, but the fact that it was listed as delinquent on the title search made it one. Just ignoring it and not figuring out what it was all about, was simply not an option. 

Without buyer representation, the issue may have never come to light. The listing agent didn't get a copy of the title search and would have been unaware of this little item. The seller had no knowledge and was under the impression that the storage unit was a limited common element that was just conveyed with the condo. The title company overlooked it.

I did my due diligence for my buyer clients, but it spared both parties, buyers and seller, a (massive) future headache. 

What could happen if property taxes remain unpaid? Back taxes and late fees will continue to accumulate. The county could put a lien on the property and sell it through a tax sale process. The new owners could have been on the hook for the unpaid amount to keep the property they believed conveyed with the sale. They could have contacted their title insurance, or title attorney to sort things out at that point, or possibly take action against the seller. But who would want to have to deal with all that?

Happy clients. Happy agent. A thank you note for Andrea Bedard

After closing, my clients' daughter sent me this note. Of course, I am not a lawyer, or loan officer, she was simply referring to the many nuances of this business and the problems I solved during their two transactions. Happy clients, happy agent!! 

Posted by

Andrea Bedard
Thompson Co., REALTORS®

Silver Spring, Maryland

Fluent in Real Estate and German.
Old house lover.
Accredited Buyer's Agent.
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Comments (34)

Elyse Berman, PA
LoKation Real Estate - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL (561) 716-7824

You make a great point and one that we surely know - true buyer's agents are worth their weight in gold.  

Nov 22, 2023 10:25 AM
Andrea Bedard

I very much believe that Elyse Berman, PA, eliminating buyer representation would set us back decades and would be detrimental to - especially - first-timers, marginalized, and VA buyers. 

Nov 23, 2023 11:35 AM
Elyse Berman, PA

I totally agree with you Andrea Bedard .  I think it will be detrimental to all buyers, some more than others.  But there are things we discover by looking around, as you clearly did in this example, that the listing agent is not going to do for a buyer, among other things.

Nov 25, 2023 04:13 PM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Andrea Bedard ,

So glad to see this post featured! You are so right buyers agents can be subject to an array of due diligence for their clients! You proved to be a downright awesome a dog with a bone you found out what that $227 was for!! Well Done!

Nov 22, 2023 01:32 PM
Andrea Bedard

I actually like digging through records, doing some detective work, and solving puzzles, Dorie Dillard Austin TX! Thank you very much!  

Nov 23, 2023 11:36 AM
Michael J. Perry
KW Elite - Lancaster, PA
Lancaster, PA Relo Specialist

Wow great game saving catch ( I’m an Orioles Fan-lol ) . You are right about almost being a Post Settlement Mess ( which was avoided )

Nov 22, 2023 05:01 PM
Andrea Bedard

This could have truly been one, I'm glad I was able to prevent it, Michael J. Perry

Nov 23, 2023 11:36 AM
Adam Feinberg
Elegran - Manhattan, NY
NYC Condo, Co-op, and Townhouse Advisor

Since storage lockers are pretty expensive here- it's a lot less sleuthing than you had to go through and storage spaces included in the sale are a big deal. Historically, we haven't taxed storage lockers (usually the size of a typical elevator or smaller) - but the law changed of this year, not enacted yet- but deeded storage lockers are going to be taxed next year. In my neighborhood- storage lockers range from $8k-$20k, but go to a new development downtown and it could cost $40k-$80k for a storage locker.

Nov 22, 2023 06:54 PM
Andrea Bedard

I think what added to the confusion was the fact that the tax record did not state that it was a storage space, but a parking spot. My best guess is that at some point during the development stage, it was decided that the storage units should be separately deeded vs. being treated as limited common elements. But who knows! I'm just glad that I was able to prevent a mess. 

Nov 23, 2023 11:39 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
You really never know what you might find in a storage unit like that. It could be thousands of dollars in treasure. You just never know..
Nov 22, 2023 09:22 PM
Andrea Bedard

That would have been something, Laura Cerrano, but it was completely empty. We looked at it during out final walk-through prior to closing.  

Nov 23, 2023 11:39 AM
Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC
eXp Realty LLC Salina Group - Salina, KS
Love To Help People

Andrea,🏠 Your recent blog post about the overlooked storage unit is a prime example of the critical value a skilled buyer's agent brings to the table. It beautifully illustrates the importance of thorough due diligence in real estate transactions. Aspiring agents and seasoned professionals alike can learn from your experience. Excellent work! 👏 #RealEstateTips #ProfessionalExcellence 📈

Nov 23, 2023 05:58 AM
Andrea Bedard

Thank you very much for your kind comment, Charles Ross - eXp Realty LLC!  

Nov 23, 2023 11:40 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ
Value Added Service, 602-620-2699 - Scottsdale, AZ
HomeSmart Elite Group, REALTOR®, EcoBroker, GREEN

Sleuth Andrea to the rescue!  What a great story, representing exactly how important buyer's agents are. If it hadn't been for your detective work, this would have gone on indefinitely as you describe. Buyer's agents are VERY important to the real estate sales process and provide a whole 'nother level of fudiciary that is critically important to the buyer and all poarties.   Representing a buyer isn't just about getting paid!   Great post and example of how important buyer's agent are to both parties. 

Nov 23, 2023 06:36 AM
Andrea Bedard

Thank you, Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ! I very much believe in the value of buyer representation. I second your comment!  

Nov 23, 2023 11:41 AM
Jan Green - Scottsdale, AZ


Nov 23, 2023 11:45 AM
John Juarez
The Medford Real Estate Team - Fremont, CA

Great story, Andrea. You certainly saved the buyer a future headache. I you had not gone the extra mile for the buyer, the wonderful note the buyer gave you may have been much more critical.

Nov 23, 2023 09:54 AM
Andrea Bedard

I don't want to imagine how this could have turned out otherwise, John Juarez! My clients had all the confidence that I would sort this out, and I was determined to do just that.  

Nov 23, 2023 11:43 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Andrea Bedard 

The series is fantastic! I always look forward to reading your posts, and I understand it takes a lot of hard work and research to make it happen. I'm so happy and thankful to know you.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Nov 23, 2023 10:56 AM
Andrea Bedard

Thank you Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400! I am grateful to you! I know that you have quite a few stories to tell yourself.  

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Nov 23, 2023 11:44 AM
Dorte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Andra,

As the good agent that you are, you did not even charge extra for protecting your buyers in this manner. Well done & a lesson for the rest of us. What a puzzle!

Nov 24, 2023 07:02 AM
Andrea Bedard

Nope, finding solutions to whatever problems arise - as they often do - is part of the service we provide. But, I do expect to be compensated for said service and the experience and expertise I bring to the table. I just reviewed a listing that offered zero commission. Now why would I want to sell that house if they don't respect the work I do? I don't. It's been sitting for a while.. that's telling. 

Nov 24, 2023 10:15 AM
Sam Shueh
(408) 425-1601 - San Jose, CA
mba, cdpe, reopro, pe

Good job. Often two agents bite the bullet split the cost. 

Nov 24, 2023 10:53 AM
Andrea Bedard

It wasn't our bullet to bite, Sam, if anything the title company should have stepped up! 

Nov 25, 2023 10:51 AM
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
The mysterious storage unit with the treasure in it is like everybody’s lost. Holy Grail. /)
Nov 24, 2023 04:21 PM
Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727
Atlanta Homes ODAT Realty - Love our Great City - Love our Clients! Buckhead - Midtown - Westside - Atlanta, GA
Concierge Service for Our Atlanta Sellers & Buyers

Andrea - an excellent example of "A Stitch in Time"! All the work you did would have taken five or ten times as long later on. Great job! All the best - Lynn

Nov 24, 2023 07:39 PM
Andrea Bedard

Thank you very much, Lynn B. Friedman CRS Atlanta, GA 404-939-2727

Nov 25, 2023 10:52 AM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Andrea:

Great job. This is an excellent example of the value of well-done buyer representation. 


Nov 25, 2023 10:26 AM
Andrea Bedard

Thank you, Jeff Dowler, CRS, I have a few more tales to tell over the coming weeks.  

Nov 25, 2023 10:53 AM
Steffy Hristova
HomeSmart Elite Group Tempe AZ Tel: 602.710.8161 - Tempe, AZ
Tempe AZ Realtor - Your Home Close to Your Work!

Thanks for sharing this story, Andrea Bedard . It is so good to read stories about the value of Buyer Representation.

Nov 25, 2023 01:50 PM
Andrea Bedard

I'm planning on sharing more, Steffy! Thank you. 

Nov 26, 2023 02:38 PM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I never heard about the storage units that come with a property and a separate tax bill. 

Thanks for sharing!

Nov 26, 2023 12:42 AM
Andrea Bedard

It was a first for me, too, Inna Ivchenko. I haven't come across another one. 

Nov 26, 2023 02:39 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Isn't it amazing how so many people can see something staring them in the face and just ignore it? Your clients were very fortunate to have you working on their behalf.

Nov 27, 2023 08:45 PM
Ed Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That was a great catch and better that you had to carry it out to completion before you got the attention of the closing title company.

Nov 28, 2023 06:54 AM
Georgie Hunter R(S) 58089
Hawai'i Life Real Estate Brokers - Haiku, HI
Maui Real Estate sales and lifestyle info

Good story!  Something to keep in mind for condo sales.

Nov 28, 2023 10:08 AM
Anne Corbin
Long and Foster - Lake Anna - Spotsylvania, VA
Serving Lake Anna & Central Virginia

Great job. That is the definition of Realtor. We do so much more than people think. Congratulations on a wonderful ending.

Nov 29, 2023 04:43 AM