By Jesse Wood
Sept. 18, 2013. The Watauga County Board of Commissioners agreed to secure a 5 percent commission to brokers Wright Properties, Elliot Wood and Edward Chapman if and when they bring a successful bid to the board regarding the potential purchase of the old Watauga High School property by buyers Chip Kassinger and Scott Sullivan.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Chair Nathan Miller acknowledged that the group was “putting the cart before the horse” because an offer hasn’t been presented.
The commissioners voted 4-1 to approve this commission percentage contingent upon the submittal of a fully executed buyer agency agreement and valid offer to the board. Commissioner Perry Yates was the lone nay vote.
“I think the buyer ought to handle the commission on the high school,” Yates said, adding that commissions could nearly exceed $1 million and that he didn’t want to set a precedent on future bids.
Chair Nathan Miller noted Yates’ point, but concluded that the bottom line was his main concern.
“I don’t care what the commission is. I care about what the county nets,” Miller said, adding that while the commission could be “a lot of money,” brokers are also enticing buyers and potentially bringing more bids to the table.
Commissioner David Blust concurred.
“I respect what [Yates is] saying. I know where you are coming from, but we still have the authority to say this is our bottom line,” Blust said. “I don’t want to take anybody away from the table if there is a chance for someone to make an offer.”
Commissioner Billy Kennedy, while noting that the county shouldn’t rush into selling the property because the real estate marking is on the uptick, said, “If we don’t get them to the table, we are getting nothing.”
During the conversation, the commissioners noted the October 2012 bids when representatives of Campus Crest and Sanctuary Management met privately with their own people for a few minutes during a commissioners meeting to discuss commission percentages and hammer out final offers. At that time, Campus Crest came back with an $18 million offer with a $900,000 commission, while Sanctuary Management came back with a $16.8 million offer and zero commission.
Campus Crest’s bid was accepted because the amount the county netted was $300,000 more with Campus Crest as opposed to Sanctuary Management. Eventually, Templeton Properties became the highest bidder, but he backed out before the due diligence period ended.
Click here to read packet material on the subject.