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No one wants to talk about it.
But it’s happening more and more.
People are selling their houses due to marital separation.
I’m not sure what’s worse though – the crisis many couples are in while they try to sell their house, or that no one is talking about the swirling mess of issues that come up as a result.
I may not be able to rescue anyone from crisis, but I can sure initiate a conversation. Hopefully it helps dispel a few myths, open a few eyes, or foster a bit of compassion and understanding for those who are hurting and either ruined by the pain or lashing out as a result.
Over the next bunch of posts I’d like to talk about selling during a separation.
Can I be honest with you about the games people play during the sale to control, manipulate, or exact revenge on their spouse? This isn’t about being gossipy or telling juicy stories. People in crisis have a hard time seeing what’s going on. Also, after years of marriage, one doesn’t anticipate how separation can stir up a vengeful beast. So, when the games start, they come as a shock. Let’s talk about it so you can be prepared.
So you’re not shocked out of your socks.
So you can recognize a gamer’s ways and protect yourself.
I’d like to tell you why I removed one woman’s wedding photo from the wall – and why she didn’t do it herself. The stages of grief are not reserved for death.
Sometimes people will get into a heated argument, even shouting at the top of their voice, over a dining set. But in a separation, it’s never, ever, ever about the dining set.
Then there’s the experience of a real estate agent caught in the middle. I’m not allergic to helping people through crises, and I’ve certainly been through my own.
Maybe I’ll even talk about the time a couple decided not to sell their house, and how it saved their marriage. That was the best money I never made, and I’m thrilled every time I see them together.
Separation is like a fire – it blazes with red hot emotions, damages everything it touches, and people get burned. I know. It hurts. It’s gut-wrenching. And it changes your life forever. It’s also isolating.
That’s why we need to talk about it.
And, maybe by talking about the many issues that flare up, we can minimize the damage and put a bit of salve on the burns.
Showings can be scary.
And a little… overly personal.
Some things are better left unseen, you know?
Want to sell your house? Start hiding stuff. Well, unless you want to frighten away potential buyers. Then by all means, leave out the diapers and sour milk.
Things Buyers (And Agents) Don’t Want To See:
An old-style gun rack is a scary sign to a buyer. If it’s full of guns, you look armed and dangerous. If it’s empty, they’re wondering where you hid your artillery. Either way, the thought of negotiating with you may well scare off buyers.
The handcuffs hanging from your bedroom closet door are way too much information. Be who you are in the bedroom and enjoy it, but announcing your fetishes to the buyers walking through your house may not help your sale.
It’s wonderful if you are blessed enough to have a pair of shoes for every day of the year. But every pair doesn’t need to be in the entrance, does it? Tripping on shoes and being unable to see the floor kind of puts a damper on a showing. (We won’t even talk about the smell.)
From the moment we enter, the buyer is annoyed and distracted.
… that’s not what you were going for, was it?
What You Eat
I’m constantly baffled by how common it is for sellers to host a showing while the dishes and food have not been cleared from the table.
Look, buyers don’t care what you had for breakfast. They do, however, connect the dots between a person who does not take care of food and a person who then probably does not take good care of a property.
Tip: It is generally a good practice to put the milk back in the fridge before you all leave for the day.
Little Tommy is getting potty trained, is he? We can tell. We’re glad it is going well and celebrate your success. … but please don’t leave the evidence of his failures lying about, stenching up the place.
Soiled underthings tend to impact the ambiance and detract from the buyer experience, you know?
Basically, try to avoid anything personal, messy, stinky, or inappropriate being visible during a showing.
When it’s for sale, it’s not your home anymore. It’s a product. And your product needs to be presented attractively in order to sell.
People in a hurry can cause a lot of damage.
Especially when their motives are questionable.
Too many agents rush clients into a decision, or pressure or manipulate just to get the thing done.
It’s bullying and it’s abusive, and it’s completely absolutely unnecessary.
People looking for houses are in different head spaces. Some are not even ready – they’re looking at every neighborhood and price range, trying to figure out what they even want.
Others are desperate and overwhelmed because their life circumstance changed – maybe they suddenly became wheelchair bound or changed careers or their house burned down – and they need a new place quickly.
Some are excitedly searching for their first family home, others are struggling with the painful process of downsizing and are selling their last home for the last time.
What’s deeply meaningful to me is joining them in the journey. I’m a counselor at heart, and care very much about what people are going through.
It’s vital to give them the space and time to go through it at their pace, whatever stage they’re at.
It’s not a popular approach. It’s slow, takes lots of time and patience, and requires sincerely caring about others. Agents interested in a quick close don’t have time for that.
It’s never been about the money to me though. (Good thing – otherwise I’d have long quit by now!) It’s always been about connecting with people.
So it’s deeply satisfying then when they’re not only happy with what they buy, and benefit from owning the property, but they come back. They enjoyed knowing me and working with me, and we connected. Years later, they remember and I get another chance to connect.
That’s when I glimpse their life story as it unfolds. And it’s beautiful.
I get to see the single woman who’s become married.
I get to watch the young couple have babies.
I get to help a senior couple downsize and move to their final home.
I get to glimpse precious moments behind closed doors, and it’s awesome.
It’s deeply encouraging too.
In the beginning, I wondered where my next client would come from. It’s not like hairdressing where I’d see clients every couple of months. They’re regulars. People don’t buy houses every year. They return and can become regulars, but it takes a long time.
Now, three, four, and five years later, people are calling me back. I feel so honored by that, and not because they give me work. (Though I do appreciate that!)
The thrill for me is making those relationships, which are far more important than any address.
She was single when she bought her first home.
I was so excited to be able to help her with that. Things have sure had changed since I’d been on my own, wanting to buy a house. Back then, it was nearly impossible. It’s thrilling to see that women have the ability to purchase a home for themselves. It’s more freedom than we had even a few decades ago. Amazing.
Then, years later, the phone rang. It was her.
Time had passed, things had changed, and she was ready to sell the house now.
I was honored that she thought of me after all that time.
Life was completely different for her than when we’d first met.
She now lived in that same house, but with her partner. She ran her hands across her swollen belly. They were expecting a child. They loved the property and had even considered staying there and building on to accommodate their growing family, but had decided to move to a larger place instead.
As I mounted the SOLD sign a few weeks later, I felt tremendously blessed.
I was honored to be remembered after five years. I was thankful for the opportunity to serve her again. And I was especially delighted to meet the man who put a ring on her finger.
To watch families grow and change through all of life’s stages is one of the beautiful joys of my work. It’s personal, heartwarming, even heart-wrenching at times, and completely meaningful and satisfying.
What’s the satisfying part of your work?
“Hello Tina speaking,” I answered.
The male caller said, “Hello, My name is Mark. My wife and I want to see your listing at 123 Country Rd. outside of Winnipeg tomorrow evening. This is exactly what we have been looking for. Your list price is $600,000. We are pre-approved for $650,000, but we really don’t want to spend that much.”
I was pleasantly surprised by his self-awareness and willingness to be open about details.
He continued, “I own 160 acres of land in a completely different direction but I don’t have to sell it to buy. Scotia bank pre-approved us without having to sell first. We would like possession in about six to ten weeks, but we are flexible.”
We parted with my promise to confirm arrangements after I speak with the seller.
The caller was definitely familiar with the questions real estate agents ask. He had been quick to qualify himself and had told me everything an agent wants to hear.
One of the most difficult things to do is qualify a buyer who calls because they saw my sign. Typically, the buyer wants to withhold information. Usually people don’t offer this much information to a stranger on the phone. He’d made it easy.
“Tomorrow evening will work for the seller,” I told him when I called to confirm our appointment.
He asked, “Is it okay if we bring our Real –a – tohr?” I gritted my teeth at the mispronunciation.
“Mark,” I began, “you never mentioned that you are working with a Real-tor.” I made sure to pronounce the word properly and very clearly. “I co-operate with other agents. Please have your agent contact me to confirm arrangements.”
“Oh, well, our real-a-tohr is too busy. He does not have time tomorrow evening.” Something smelled fishy. “Can’t you just show it to us?” He asked.
“Let me ask you something Mark. If I showed you this property and you were interested in writing an offer, which agent would be writing the offer?”
I was a little surprised when he replied, “I will be writing the offer with ABC Realty. I have signed a buyer contract with that office so I have to write the offer with them.”
My spidey-senses were tingling.
“I am very familiar with ABC Realty. I like doing business with them. May I ask which agent you are working with?” I probed.
“John Smith and Jim Tayler.” The names rolled off his tongue effortlessly.
I did a quick mental inventory and realized that both of the named agents did, in fact, work at ABC Realty.
“Hey, I know John Smith!” I said excitedly. “I just did a deal with John recently. He is a great guy.”
“Well we actually have been working with Jim. He has just been so busy. Do you know Jim?” he asked.
“I have never met Jim but he has a good reputation in real estate. I will be happy to co-operate with either Jim or John. Please give one of them a call and have them show the property to you. The agent who is being paid should be the agent introducing you to the property.”
Mark never did come look at the property. In fact, neither Jim Taylor nor John Smith had ever spoken to this caller before this day and neither of them had a buyer agency agreement with Mark.
Mark knew a lot about real estate. He knew that if he told me that he was under contract with another agent that I was forbidden to pursue writing an offer with him.
Mark also knew that if he told me that he and his girlfriend just liked looking at nice houses together, and were not actually wanting to buy, that I would not drive out and spend my evening away from my family just to let them see it.
So Mark lied.
Some people – even some real estate agents – think that every Tom, Dick, and poodle with a whim to see a house should be entertained.
I disagree. For a few reasons.
It’s disrespectful to me and my family for one thing.
I value my time and family. I’m all for charity and generosity and sharing, and definitely give until it hurts. But I don’t fill the tank with gas and leave my family for hours just to humor a browser with no intention of buying – especially when they’ve spent a good deal of time lying to my face. Sorry, no. I will not enable that.
It’s also disrespectful to sellers.
If it was your house for sale, would you want to change your plans for the evening and rush to get cleaned up and out of your own house just so someone could view the house for something to do?
If you knew the people viewing the house were not in a position to buy a house, would you want me to bring them by anyway?
My sellers appreciate their time being respected, so I continue to guard them as much as I can from browsers, looky-loos, and anyone else who just likes to poke around in people’s houses for a good time.
They are free to do so at open houses.
Years ago, I had the honor of helping a young couple buy their first home. They were the first, and very proud, owners of that home, and had enjoyed it a lot.
Now, with baby number two on the way, they decided to move. With their eyes on the future, they wanted to live in a community where they would want to send their children to school.
As we checked out a few houses, he carried one child in his arms, and she carried the other one low in her belly. The little one would arrive soon. From house to house she rubbed her belly and pressed her palms to her aching back.
They wanted a floor plan similar to the home they had already lived in, and we found one. They imagined the toddler’s room here, and the new baby’s room there…
Her face glowed with the dreamy expectation of a first-time mom.
This location and home suited them perfectly, so we immediately marketed their home. It sold, and they made an offer on the house they’d chosen.
Then something happened that’s never happened in my career before.
At the same time the conditions on their house were removed, their baby was being born!
It was a doubly fantastic day for them.
Now came the awkward part. I needed to get their signatures to complete the deal on their purchase.
I drove over to the Ste. Anne hospital.
A nurse led me down the hall toward the birthing room. That’s right. I was going into the very room that she had just given birth. It was a generously sized room with high timber frame ceilings.
I felt like an intruder as I entered the room. I felt like a huge interruption to their glorious first hours with their newborn son.
But she held the wrapped baby, beaming. She seemed so deeply satisfied. And my arriving, whether it was the signing of papers or the sharing of the moment, seemed to only heighten their joy.
They were the happiest clients I have ever encountered.
These are the moments I live for!
I adore being part of the process, watching people (and families) grow, learn, and become.
The deepest, most rewarding part of my profession is the people. It’s a deep honor to be invited into these intimate moments, to glimpse people’s beautiful hearts, – even nearly get shot by them! – and to help them find that home in which to make memories.
In ten years, I may forget the addresses, siding, or square footage, but I’ll always remember the people.
I LOVE to travel! So much so that I would love to have a travel related job. I love going to new places and exploring everything that they have to offer.
I enjoy finding out about local culture. When I travel to Mexico I love to learn about the Mayans and the Aztec. I often buy related jewelry pieces. I have a unique name and can never find it on anything touristy. So a find I was able to score in the Mayan was a pendant with my name spelled out in their characters. Not only is it a conversation piece, but something unique to treasure.
I also really enjoyed exploring all the ruins. I was able to climb up the temple at Coba before it closed. I scampered up to the top like a monkey, even with all my camera equipment attached and was rewarded with an amazing view of the jungle. However, coming down was a whole entirely different experience. I quickly realized why so many slid down on their backsides! My own descent was not a whole lot different!
I enjoy the local history, which can also tie in with culture. Nothing is more amazing than exploring a grand Cathedral, intricate victorian, fairytale castle or an imposing fortress. So many impressive structures created hundreds or more years ago really make you wonder how it was possible with their tools and lack of modern technology. Most places also have a variety of museums or galleries to tour through as well. They can be a wealth of information and allow you to view objects and creatures you didn’t even know once existed.
I also really enjoy exploring the local flora and fauna. I enjoy discovering local plants that I cannot see here at home. I search for local wildlife and can sit for hours at a time, being entertained by their antics and rituals, while catching it all on film.
Another thing I get lost in where ever I travel is the scenery. It doesn’t matter if it is ocean, mountain, forest, city, waterfall or rocky terrain. It is all beautiful and unique and can make for some amazing photography.
Another aspect to travel is about the people you travel with. A large group can be hard to coordinate, but dining out in a Mexican restaurant with 13 friends, being serenaded by a Mariachi Band is an experience that we will all share and talk about for years to come.
So now, all these hi lights bring me back to my question: Is Travel a Waste Of Money?
While I know that there are many people that would answer yes, for me the answer is a resounding NO!
I will agree that travel can be very expensive, and it is a want, not a need. But the photos, experiences, little treasures and memories I come home with are priceless to me.
Being able to share them with the people I travelled with, to laugh over funny sights we saw, reminisce over things we did, share photos we took of each other is all well worth it.
It is also rewarding to me to share these same items and stories with people who have never been. Giving me a chance to relive the sights, sounds, and excitement over and over again. I also have a small group of friends that I enjoy scrapbooking my experiences with, another way to relive my trips long after I am home.
And while I do not have a “travel” job, my job in real estate does allow me to travel. I can book holidays to exotic locations on the downtimes, I am able to do various day trips exploring all the sights MB has to offer.
My Real Estate partner Tina and I enjoy the yearly Real Estate Conferences in various destinations where we can not only be filled with knowledge & tips to aid our business, but we get a chance to explore all the above points that I mentioned to the benefit of a tax write off!
And yes, I am awaiting to go on my next travel adventure, wherever that may be!
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 ?
Photo taken by Eniko Crozier
The Benefits of Using a Real Estate Photographer
When there are so many options for buyers to choose from and so little buyers to go around, what can help attract a buyer’s attention to your home? Proper real estate photography, that’s what!!!
Fact: Most home buyers today start their home shopping online. There are many websites to view homes on, from public ones like MLS to local site like MH&H to the realtor’s own website. As a seller, it is important for you that your home looks it’s best in every picture. When a realtor takes photos of the seller’s home with their cellphone, the pics are often too dark or too grainy for the potential buyer to connect with your home. This can cause them to completely skip over your home and choose to book a showing with the competition instead!
A seller needs a photographer that can connect with their home. One that can hilight all the benefits of living there, without distorting them. Whether it’s the special features or the little extras inside the home itself, the beautiful gardens & landscaping outside, or the outbuildings. A good photographer not only sees but feels those little subtleties in each property that makes it unique and special to any other property that is for sale. They recognize these features and focus on them to help make your property stand out above the rest!
With proper photos, when a potential buyer views your home online, they are drawn in because the photos help connect them to the property. Now they are booking that showing at your home, instead of skipping over it in favour of your competition!
Real Estate Photographer and Real Estate Professional
Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
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I left their house with an offer in hand.
The snow might have been crunching, but I didn’t notice. I was practically floating.
After only seven days, the place was about to be sold. Better than that, both sides had been dreams to work with.
It’s the deal every agent wants. And I got it.
I put the car into gear and grinned while the car radio pumped out the perfect beat for celebration.
It was evening in January, and had been dark for hours. That morning I’d navigated the roads during icy rain, and the roads were a bit dicey now that everything had frozen again.
So I took it slow and steady.
There I was, bopping like a thrilled teenager and driving like a grandpa.
I grinned and danced for a few miles… and then I saw it.
There, in the ditch near the highway, was the overturned car. The wheels were up in the air and the lights were still on. A young man stood beside the car.
It must have just happened.
So I did what anyone else would do.
I drove on by and left him there.
Aww, don`t worry. I turned around and came right back! (I told you it was dark and slippery, right?)
I pulled onto the shoulder and approached the young man. He looked to be maybe eighteen or twenty. He was pretty shaken up but didn’t appear to be hurt.
“You okay?” I called to him from the roadside.
Then it occurred to me someone else could be in that car… and not able to come out. Suddenly I was very glad for my warm coat and moccasin boots – I’d be able to come down and help if need be.
“Is anyone with you?”
“No, it’s just me.”
What a relief.
I offered him a ride, which he gladly took.
He pulled on the seatbelt and looked straight ahead, no doubt stunned by the accident. His request was to be taken home. I wasn’t sure that was better than going to the hospital, but we headed toward his home anyway.
You know… you can never tell by looking at someone what kind of home life they come from. I wondered about this young man. Would he be afraid to tell his parents about it? Would there be hell to pay when he got home? Luckily, car rides are great for getting to know someone, and I used the opportunity.
When we came to talking about his parents, he smiled and seemed to warm up to having a conversation.
“Oh no, I’m not worried about my dad,” he smiled.
With joy and gratitude in his voice and words, he told me how his dad has always been there for him, and they’re a solid, safe place for him in this crazy world.
I brought him home and waved him off, so thankful and relieved he was safe.
The next day, two exciting things happened.
First, the offer I’d delivered was accepted. Yay! SOLD sign, here I come!
The other cool thing that happened was that I got a phone call from the boy’s father.
He was so glad that I’d stopped to help his son. Not just that, but our conversation had brought peace and comfort to him in a pretty scary moment.
I was thrilled about selling the house.
But the most meaningful part of that day was hearing how anything I did or said encouraged someone else.
I read somewhere that a day’s success should not be measured by the harvest reaped, but by the seeds sown.
To me, that was a successful day.
Forget about money and houses and debt and stress – life is about people, and serving others is my true thrill.