A Lesson in Forests and Trees as Told about a Mobile Home

I’ve been working as a Federal Receiver for quite a while now. We’ve overcome most of our issues and problems – including scaling back the operations, collecting receivables, and selling fixed assets – and we’re starting to wind this thing down by selling the three manufacturing plants through a court-approved Asset Purchase Agreement (APA).

Well, almost.

The almost is due to a modular home sitting on this sizable piece of property, which had been used as an office in one of the Idaho locations. In Idaho, one can’t sell a modular home without a title (similar to an automobile title), and in our case the former owners haven’t proven cooperative about getting a title to us. The title company’s lawyers were questioning the transaction, and it would have taken an extra 30 day extension to the closing date in order to acquire a duplicate title through the proper governmental agencies.

This, as you can imagine, leaves me with an issue: the title company would not close the real estate transaction and the sale of the plant equipment without this last piece of the puzzle. That is, I’m trying to sell a $3 million manufacturing plant and equipment, and I have a $3000 modular home sitting on it that is preventing the entire transaction.

So the title company’s lawyers called me, and I told them to slow down and explain the problem in detail based on Idaho law. I thought about it for 3 minutes and suggested that we just remove the modular home from the APA. This wasn’t nuclear fission in action, but it certainly got the job done.

Then the title company lawyers objected on the grounds that the personal property taxes on the modular home were due in order to close the sale because in a transaction you have to pay all the past due personal property and real estate taxes. Now $100 in taxes was holding up our $3 million sale.

I suggested that we pay the tax on the modular home but exclude the item from the transaction. This made the title company’s lawyers happy, and allowed us to move forward and close the sale.

Great! they cried. But will the buyer be okay with this?

I contacted the purchaser and in 45 seconds he agreed to the whole thing.

This is a case of not seeing the forest through the trees. You cannot let a $3000 modular home ruin a $3 million APA. That’s ludicrous. There is always a way to work it out – and that’s why they call me a workout guy. I figure out how to get the deal done.

When you find yourself confronted with a seemingly insurmountable detail always try to see the forest through the trees.

Have you ever noticed people unable to get something done because of a myopic fixation on a seemingly overwhelming detail? Tell us about it in the comments below.

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