I recognized the address right away. I had been there before. The foundation was in deplorable condition.
I knew they would not buy it.
But, I booked the appointments anyway. We saw five houses on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.
Once they saw the house with the crumbling foundation they exclaimed they would never invest in a house like this.
“I know,” I said. “I knew about the foundation, and I knew you would never ever buy it.”
They looked confused. “Why did you take the time to show it to us then?”
“Because I respect your need to make your own decision. I will not filter the choices based on my opinion, but on yours.”
They nodded, and seemed to appreciate that.
It had only been our second time shopping. They did not know me well, and this was a perfect way to demonstrate that they can trust me. I knew that if I tried to prevent them from seeing a home they wanted to see, they may question whether I had my own agenda.
Eniko and I don’t choose to show only homes that offer the highest commission.
We don’t limit the buyers shopping to only listings through the brokerage we work for. (Even though we have a lot of inventory to choose from). We respect our buyers’ decision to choose, and furnish them with all the options they request.
Once buyers get to know us though, something changes.
Suddenly we’ll get texts asking, “What do you know about this property? Have you shown it?”
Once we have developed a trust relationship and we get asked these questions, we can avoid unnecessary showings.
It’s at this point in the shopping experience we tell the buyer, “The house is beautifully redone and has a lot of character however, the basement is built on blocks and is horizontally caving in. There is constant water in the basement as a result of the shifting of the east wall of the basement.
We all save time when that happens. But saving time is always secondary to integrity.
By the way, that home with the theoretical basement on blocks that’s caving in? We may not recommend it to one buyer, but we might just call the concrete worker we know who said he was looking for homes where he could raise the house and redo the foundation.
There is a buyer for every house at the right price.
ACCREDITED BUYER REPRESENTATIVE
Online house hunting can only do so much.
You cannot smell a house online.
Or open that mysterious door in the basement, or inspect the walls and ceilings for water damage.
You can rule out many homes online, but there are things about a property that you won’t know till you arrive.
This is where, with your own personally retained agent, you begin looking at houses. Lots of them. Sometimes lots and lots of them.
One such (fictional) couple was at the stage of looking. They had smartly retained me to represent them, and off we went looking for that perfect-for-them house.
Here’s how their search went down.
House one: He loved the garage but the master bedroom wasn’t big enough for her.
House two: She loved the kitchen but he didn’t want to be bothered with making the basement windows bigger so the children could safely sleep downstairs.
House three: The wood stove was something he had always wanted but she thought it was not safe for the toddler to be around. I suggested they could remove it but that would create a renovation project they didn’t want to pay for.
House four: She loved the character in the old house but he wasn’t interested in a property that only had a holding tank. It would be an added monthly living expense that they didn’t need.
House five: The floors had all been replaced, which was hugely appealing to both of them. However, the laminate floors had been poorly installed and already had areas separating and swelling from moisture. They both were super disappointed.
House Six: The backyard was amazing. They could both see themselves enjoying summer out here. Too bad the ceiling had been dripping and was causing mould in the upper level of the one and a half story home. Their son’s allergies would not work with that.
House seven: The ad in the magazine said it was a few minutes from the city. It took forty-two minutes to drive to the property and there were eleven miles of gravel road to travel. It was just too far to drive.
House eight: The open-concept living area appealed to both of them. She loved the large windows… until she saw who lived next door. She would not live next door to his ex-girlfriend. Not happening.
House nine: The smell of cigarette smoke was so strong they never even looked through the entire house.
House ten: The backyard photos were the reason they wanted to see this one. The towering apartment blocks next to the home put a damper on the private backyard life they had imagined. They ruled it out before we even looked inside. That was a quick walk though.
House eleven: Ten acres. Finally. They could have horses and other pets. The current owners enjoyed pets also. They just were not very attentive about cleaning up the cat litter. The rugs were torn in the doorways and in the stairs, apparently having been used as a scratching post. There were snakes, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, dogs, and birds living in the house.
The grass on the ten acres had not been cut in years and the grounds had become a dumping ground for old car parts. They certainly could not see their son playing on these grounds. How long would it take to clean the place? I think I saw her gag at the thought.
House twelve: They wrote an offer. They just wanted to move already. We went back to do a home inspection and when we arrived we found the basement flooded. There was no sump pit or sump pump.
The spring melt was coming up through the floor and the beautiful new rug was soaking wet. Thankfully, because they had the offer subject to a home inspection, they were able to get out of the deal.
Houses thirteen to thirty one: They compared each of these homes with the one they had fallen in love with and written an offer on. None of them compared. After a while, all the houses started to look the same.
House number thirty two: Adequate size. Treed yard with a garden. Finished basement. Bi-level with large basement windows. The floors were about five years old but they looked nice. The garage was not insulated but it was attached to the house and they liked that. The kitchen wasn’t as big as she wanted but it had a huge walk-in pantry. They could picture their life here.
I watched them as they quietly took it all in. They were in no hurry to leave. They started picturing where they would place their furniture. It all just made sense. Finally, they had found their home.
You might be wondering if I’m exaggerating. I don’t actually show that many houses before closing a deal, right? I must have just gotten caught up in the fictional storytelling.
YES, I’ve absolutely shown upwards of thirty houses to a single client. It’s happened a few times.
The fact is, house-hunting takes time. Lots of time.
If you take anything away from this story, I hope it is an appreciation of the buyer representative who dedicates themselves to you and your process.
We work hard, and are glad to show you loads of listings, regardless of whose sign is on the yard.
Accredited Buyer Representative
Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
I popped awake before the alarm sounded, with my mind already swirling.
As I fed the dogs and got ready for work, my mind continued to race. I had been researching and strategizing some systems of organization and marketing and business development over the previous weeks.
You know I adore strategy, right? And how I am attracted to that which is forward thinking, tech savvy, new and improved, flashing, and shiny? Yeah… so I couldn’t stop thinking and mulling and planning and… well, you get the idea. It was exhilarating.
I was eager to start the year off with everything in place. To pull it off though, meant giving myself a demanding deadline. I was running out of time.
Anxiety was starting to grab hold of me, so I was glad for the break this day would offer.
This day I would get to hand over the keys to a proud buyer. I held the keys in my hand, awaiting the final, official permission to pass them to the buyers. We’d been told to expect to receive that news at 10am.
Time passed, and it was nearly noon. The call still hadn’t come.
I called up a friend to join me for lunch. It did my heart good to pause, relax, and spend time with a good friend. Our time together was an oasis in an otherwise mentally chaotic day. (I’ll have to remember that the next time I feel anxious and my mind can’t stop racing…)
After lunch, the call had still not come, so I met up with my partner Eniko. I wrote some of my ideas on paper and passed them to her to see what she could do with it. When two people with two complete different skill sets work on the same project, an idea becomes a masterpiece. She gets it. I was relieved to not be alone in all of this. Our time together proved to be another oasis of rest from my mental sprinting.
After meeting with those two wonderful people, I was refreshed and ready for the rest of the day.
Finally, at 1:45, the call came. I could release the keys.
Luckily, the buyers had not been waiting for hours outside in a moving van, ready to unload. They’d been at work and hadn’t planned to move in that day. I can’t imagine how the day would have gone had they also been waiting eagerly for their keys.
I met with the buyers, and ceremoniously handed them the keys to their new home. They grinned and, for the first time, entered the house as its owners. They stood in the middle of the room, silent and sighing, just enjoying the moment. I savored the silence right along with them.
They thanked me once again, and I left them alone in their new home, glad to have shared that peaceful happy moment with them.
Now, refreshed from these quiet moments, I’m energized again to pursue my goals for the coming year.
… I can’t wait to tell you about those.
What refreshes you ?
My finger slid across my iPad in a slow pattern as the Facebook posts rolled by, one at a time.
It’s the way I unwind.
It’s a way to change gears and stop thinking about work. If your wall looks like mine there is always a combination of posts. You would be surprised how often I burst into laughter because of a crazy, stupid, or funny post I come across. Heaven only knows how many prayers I’ve sent up when I’ve come across a personal post about struggles. Health concerns. Mental challenges. Family crisis. These posts touch my spirit. Someone is always talking about the weather. Others make me salivate with their food posts. Vacation posts let me see other parts of the world from my couch.
Lately however, I’ve been hearing the cry of the woman’s heart. I hear it in the posts I read. Or wait a minute, maybe that’s my heart crying. It’s not the sound of a heart breaking, although many of us have experienced that at some point in our life. It’s more like a longing unfulfilled. I continued through the posts. I marveled at how the kid pictures look so different from a few years ago. And then I saw it.
Then I saw it.
It was a photo like no other. There
There was four eccentric women standing together on a street clutching their oversized bags. Each of them was wearing an outrageous hat and a ridiculous amount of color. Their accessories were loud and bold. Shoes, jewelry, scarves, makeup, and glasses all made a statement.
“We’ve been friends for so long we can’t remember which one of us was the bad influence!” That was the caption on the Facebook post that stopped me from scrolling.
I wanted it to be me. Yes, I want to be able to be influential. I want to be able to instigate this kind of bazaar fun. FUN. Remember? LAUGHTER. Remember? That’s it right there. That’s what women are not getting enough of.
Immediately, and energetically, I hit the share button. There must be other women desiring some of this kind of fun. I reasoned that if I could get a few women to dress up like that and wear a big bright hat too, I would undoubtedly attract the most fun women around. I was certain we would not need an agenda or program or entertainment.
I was right.
As I shared that post I put out an invitation for a ladies night out.
Do you want a glimpse of what happened?
There are are five women missing from this photo. Two had left to pick up their children. One was busy in the kitchen. (The restaurant owner at All D’s Lounge is a fun woman and was a huge part of our evening.) One woman showed up later after she finished work and the other was Eniko Crozier who, as usual, was behind the camera.
We smiled a lot. We laughed out loud. We had a blast.
The day after, I got the most interesting comment from Ann Lemon, another Sutton Realtor who had observed me at the event. She texted me, I love how happy it makes you! She’s right. It made me happy to see the women having a good time.
Here’s a little secret.
You don’t have to have a title, or a committee, a club, or a church to start up some fun. You don’t always need a program (although that too has its place). You may not even need money. A little inspiration and a simple initiative is all it takes to make something happen.
Have you ever risked taking the initiative and had satisfying results?
I’d love to hear your story.
Years ago when my daughter was little, we would use a vaporizer to help relieve coughs and congestion. The first time I set up the vaporizer to make the bedroom steamy she raised a finger to touch the steam flowing out of the machine.
“Don’t touch the steam – it’s hot!”
She quickly took back her little hand, “Okay mum.” I left the room. Twenty seconds later, her scream shot through the house. I ran to her side.
She had taken my advice, and not touched the steam… with her hand anyway. Instead, she had sat on the vaporizer, the poor thing. And she had a great big blister for her efforts.
(Don’t worry, she survived and is all grown up and just fine.)
Being a REALTOR® is a lot like being a mom, I’ve noticed. As a caring guide, I want the best for my child (or client), and work to protect her and help her avoid consequences of poor decisions. In the end though, it’s still her call. And it’s not as though the caring stops after a poor choice either –it often requires more work, like emergency response and damage control.
I’ve seen real estate deals – mine and others’ – fall apart for lots of reasons. Some were unfortunate happenstance, like unexpected job loss, but others – most, actually – were the direct result of dumb decisions. I can warn, advise, guide, and equip clients so they can make the most informed decision possible… but the decision is ultimately theirs. Like a mom, I can advise and then watch them do what they do.
One client listed with me, asking me to please give him feedback and guidance so he can adjust course for a great result. This guy’s smart, and wants to base his decision on professional fact-based intel.
These are the ones you dream of.
Many others are like the eighty some year old man I once house shopped with. He had been a real estate investor decades before. When he saw a house priced under $100K – less than half of the average price for its size – he couldn’t believe it. “Who on earth will pay such a high price!?”
“Actually, this is a low price for its size. You can’t get houses for less around here.”
“Aw, sure you can!”
What was he basing that on? Opinion. And a severely outdated one at that. Back in the 1970’s sure, $100K would have been a high price for that house. He may have known the market well at one time, but is now out of touch. And here’s the kicker – he doesn’t know it, and doesn’t care. I keep my finger to the pulse of the market, current up to the week – not month or season, the week. Still, he guffawed current, professional, factual intel. He knows what he knows. The end.
Remind you of anyone? A stubborn child with hands over his ears perhaps?
Luckily, motherhood has trained me well.
The toughest thing about it is watching. Buyers and sellers have the right to make their decisions. I completely respect that, and wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s just hard to watch them suffer, especially when it’s so avoidable.
I can wave warning signs, jump up and down crying, “NOOO! Not that way!! You’ll go bankrupt!!” But that’s all I can do. The rest is up to them. Bankruptcy, family splits, and loads of heartache can be the fallout. I’ve seen it.
I approach my job the way I approach parenting. I care. The advice I give is for their benefit, not mine. I’ll give them guidance, equip them with everything they need (including feedback from buyers and other agents), to make an informed decision. REALTORS® care – that’s why we coach. It’s why I’ll sit with a client for an hour and half and talk before we go shopping. As with parenting, the advice given is for the client’s benefit.
I respect that clients (and children) are ultimately the ones who make their own decisions, and it’s not on me. I’m not the one who will suffer the consequence, I can only tell them what the consequence will be. I really, really don’t want people to suffer loss and damage. That’s why I work so hard to be Attentive From Sign Up to Sign Down®. It’s why I coach people through the process. It’s why I started doing this job in the first place!
We noticed that the stairs on our deck were rotting. We had already determined that we would need to replace them this summer. We enjoy our deck immensely. Our home is a bi level so the deck is high off the ground. The bonus to the height is that we rarely have mosquitoes joining us in our leisure time. We live on an acreage. The view from the deck gives me the same sense of retreat as sitting at a campsite! The deck is where we socialize, tan, or sometimes just sit and watch fireflies or lay and gaze at the stars.
Yesterday, I was about to make my way down the 8 steps of the deck when the stairs decided to separate from the deck entirely! The stairs dropped straight down with me on them. I screamed like a girl! My husband was using the whipper snipper for the first time this spring and did not hear me as I continued to scream for help. My legs were stuck between the fallen stair case rises. I am awaiting the radiologist test results of the x-rays as I sit with one foot in a half cast because I can’t move it without sharp pain. It’s difficult to use the crutches because the other foot is sprained and my upper spine is prone to inflammation. Pain is reverberating through my body, but my mind is more powerful than my body!
I am viewing this as an opportune time to expand my business and grow by incorporating the assistance of other agents. This has been something that I have pondered about doing since last fall. I have hesitated because It is really hard to share income! It is not hard to make money, but it is challenging to make a profit. Now that I am grounded and have a strong business plan, I feel confident to include others in my business. I don’t have it all in place just yet. Maybe I can assist someone else in becoming successful as they assist me in completing a few deals.
Back to the deck and stairs. Learn a lesson from me! All man made things have wear and tear and eventually will need replacing. By doing maintenance,you will prolong the home you enjoy and retain its market value. By procrastinating repairs, you will risk getting serious damage to the weakened areas of your home and also loose your competitive edge in the market when a sale is needing to take place. As I read that last sentence, I heard the word “weekend”. That applies too! My weekend has been dramatically altered by my fall!