Every year, Lady Agag and I mark Memorial Day Weekend by taking a day trip to the Jersey Shore. More specifically, Spring Lake, New Jersey, our favorite shore town and one of the toniest in America.

Spring Lake for its part marks the start of the summer season with a Five Mile Race. This year’s race was the 35th Annual and over 8,000 individuals participated. For the last 30 years the event has been staged by my old friend and high school classmate Chris Tatreau who has planned and directed marathon-length and lesser distance races all over the United States.

While major road-race planning is how he keeps his body and soul together, he has long been a savvy real estate investor and when I bought my first house as a 31 year-old bachelor, I sought his counsel on the purchase. And 33 years later, I still remember this advice.

After going through the house, a row home in an area of the city that was home to a lively mix of blue collar workers, cops, firemen, corporate executives, professionals, judges and the future Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, he asked me what the asking price was. I told him “twenty-nine, five” and asked him if he thought I should offer “twenty-eight.”

He asked me if I liked the house and I told him that I did. He then gave me the advice that I have never forgotten.

He said “If you like the house, don’t lose it for a thousand dollars. I did that once and have regretted it ever since. Do you know what a thousand dollars is?”

Then he answered his own question “Six dollars a month.”

And the scales fell from my eyes.

I was reminded of this story when I ran into Chris on Saturday in Spring Lake and thought that readers might find it useful in explaining to clients why going with the low-ball inspector in order to save, perhaps, two hundred dollars may be a penny wise and pound foolish decision.

Ask your clients if they know what two hundred dollars is?

A dollar, twenty a month.

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