What do you do when your client walks into your Parramatta office and asks you to facilitate an international office sale? Hop on the first flight out of Sydney!
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That’s exactly what Morris Short, broker and owner of RE/MAX Xtra in Parramatta, did when he embarked on the 20 hour-plus flight to Ankara, Turkey, which he described as “as good as long distance flying gets”.
If you put your hand in a hat and blindly selected two regions of the world, you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to find two more starkly contrasting metropolises than Parramatta, Sydney’s “second CBD” that just over 30,000 people call home; and Ankara, Turkey’s bustling capital with a population of around 5.7 million – the existence of which dates back to the Roman empire.
In June, he opened his doors to a client whose mother owned a large tract of property in the Turkish capital before it was sold to developers in the 1990s. As part of the deal, which led to the construction of three office towers on the land, the client’s mother received several offices from the developer.
It was one of these office spaces that Mr Short was enlisted to sell, when the client, Turgen Cocataskin, inherited them from her late mother. With RE/MAX’s network reach extending into 118 countries, including Turkey, Mr Short got in touch with the network’s local office, RE/MAX Lot, to assist with the sale, and who he noted “supplied all the resources necessary to enable the successful transaction”.
While the world may have gone virtual in recent years, thanks in large part to the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate transactions have not kept with the times, with physical presence necessary in order for all the relevant documents to be signed and the sale to progress to completion.
This presented a hiccup in the early stages of the transaction given none of the selling party were able to make the lengthy journey to Turkey. A suggestion was then made; one which involved RE/MAX representing the selling party on European soil.
“It really was a gratifying request,” he recalled. “One we didn’t accept lightly.”
Further contextualising the suggestion, he explained: “The owners were terribly worried that with a power of attorney and the title of the property, the holder of these two items could sell the property to anyone for any amount.”
And so, it was decided. Mr Short was to fly to Turkey. But that didn’t mean the rest of the transaction would be smooth sailing.
“There are no solicitors involved in the transaction. So, it’s pretty much a case of finding a buyer, meeting a buyer, getting paid for the property, and signing the transfer of title,” he said.
Sounds simple enough.“[But] being a foreign national with power of attorney, there were several more steps in the process,” he shared, before singing the praises of “Volkan from RE/MAX Lot [who] ensured our paperwork was in order prior to submitting it all”.
An unnamed buyer was found; their intention was to turn the space into an architect’s office for their daughter, and a fair price of AU$190,000 was agreed. Flights were booked, bags packed, neck pillows purchased, and wheels were up. Mr Short headed to Ankara on 16 September to finalise the deal.
On arrival in Turkey, he was “greeted with open arms, quite literally”.
“The atmosphere [at] RE/MAX Lot and RE/Max Xtra are very similar. For both of us, it’s about people. I knew that if I asked for anything, it would appear,” he noted.
Relishing in the world-renowned Turkish coffee which is “strong, but good”, Mr Short spent the opening stanza of his quick visit making appropriate arrangements to get the sale over the line.
“Monday the 18th [of September] was a whirlwind of meetings – with the tax department, with the Notaries Office, with a government authorised passport translator, and other offices and officials,” he recounted.
“By Tuesday lunch time it was done,” he said, adding the professional collaboration between both offices aided the process.
“RE/MAX Lot has a compliance officer on its team, and that person resides in the Titles Office and effectively walks through the transfer of title with each agent, who brings their seller and buyer to him,” he detailed.
Interestingly, Mr Short shared that in Turkey, “only qualified translators can be involved in the transaction”, meaning while RE/MAX Lot helped navigate the language barrier, he also had to enlist the services of a Turkish government approved translator, Emir, to ensure the deal got over the line.
“Once the original title was sighted in the Titles Office, I signed some paperwork and a new title was handed to the buyer,” Mr Short added.
But it didn’t stop another spanner being thrown in the works.
“As a foreign national I was unable to open a bank account to send the funds back to our trust account,” he shared. “We overcame it by accepting a physical pile of Euro notes for the transaction and being paid in cash.”
“We then went to the back with the buyer, had the bank draw up a swift transfer, which can’t be withdrawn after acceptance by the transferring bank. We then deposited the cash back in the buyer’s bank for the transfer.”
“Let’s say it was creative, but all above board,” he clarified.
Moving forward, it’s impossible to say whether such an adventure will become commonplace in Mr Short’s professional life, but he assured: “If a client needs an impartial eye cast over a transaction, then we are here.”
“The notion of 48 hours of travel to spend three-and-a-half days on the ground is nuts, but if we needed to we would consider it,” he proclaimed.
“Real estate has always been about people, for my wife, Melissa, and I. [And] this reminded me why we do what we do; to go that extra mile to assist people in need was enormously gratifying,” he said.
“Doing what we did proves that actions speak louder than words and that anything is possible with the right people on the ground,” Mr Short concluded.
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