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.
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
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
What do you rely on when life is scary?
Is there anything you can trust?
As a real estate agent, changes in the market or a flood of new agents to the scene can be cause for worry. Competition heightens. Available houses become fewer. Suddenly you find yourself asking, “Will I make it?”
It makes me think of how a bird can perch on the very top of a tree. They park their entire body weight on what, from the ground, looks like a twig. I always think that surely the branch should break beneath their weight.
But the bird is not afraid of the branch breaking.
The bird does not depend on the tree. It depends on its own ability to fly.
As agents, so much is out of our control. The value of a home, the market in general, or how our colleagues treat us can all impact our daily life. There is a heck of a lot of things that are scary about being an agent. High gas prices. Slowing markets. Clients who think you can wave a wand and sell their house. When the number of agents in your area doubles in the space of two years. Spending loads of money on marketing without any guarantee at all of ever getting it back. Bullies. Liars.
But we can’t be scared witless. If we are afraid, it shows we’re relying on those things to make or break us. Which would be a bit like a bird relying on a tree to hold it up.
We can’t rely on externals for our happiness or success.
Well, we can, but we’ll be constantly disappointed and success will evade us.
As real estate agents, our confidence has to come from somewhere else. Our instincts and unique abilities will be with us no matter what circumstance we’re in. It’s those we need to rely on.
Can you be a quick problem solver? Do you have the ability to inspire? Can you adapt?
If the ability is there, the circumstance doesn’t matter as much.
Stop looking at what could happen and start trusting your instincts.
Like the bird, trust in your ability to fly.
In what situation are you relying on external things? How could you start trusting yourself instead?
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate
I might be in trouble.
I think I’ve forgotten how to sit still – how to rest.
Life is busy. Crazy even. But the harried pace of this profession is one of the things I love about it!
I love dashing from appointment to appointment. I love the challenges – of clomping around in snowdrifts to measure houses, or trying not to get shot by my clients. I thrive on the adventure.
But in the dashing and strategizing and maneuvering through challenges, I’ve enjoyed it all so much I didn’t realize …. I think I’ve forgotten how to just sit down and relax!
When Eniko and I began working together, we agreed that each of us should have at least one weekend a month off of work.
A day off is difficult for a real estate agent to secure. Weekends are even more rare. But she and I have a bond of trust that makes it possible.
The thing is… I haven’t been taking that rest.
That’s a problem.
It’s in the still and quiet when reflection and insight can happen. It’s when I can actually spend time with God and be refreshed by His presence. That doesn’t happen on the fly.
And it’s tough to take that time because work is fun for me! To take a break from it is really difficult.
But I’m going to do it. This week I’m taking off.
Hmm… what will I do with all my free time? Oh, I know. I’ll turn a storage room into a guest room. I’ll spring clean my house. I’ll get to those flowerbeds that didn’t get a fall clean up.
Oops, there I go again. Dashing from thing to thing.
Okay, I’ll also spend time quietly, calmly sauntering around my house and yard. I’ll admire spring’s new growth. I’ll walk and talk with God. I’ll walk and talk with my husband. I will lie on the grass with my dogs. I’ll soak in the sound of birds chirping, bees humming, and enjoy the chorus of frogs and crickets that fill each evening.
I feel good and energetic already, but being home and mentally present will probably refresh me in a way I haven’t felt in a very long time. And it couldn’t come at a better time.
There’s a newness in the air.
Maybe it’s spring. Maybe it’s the promise of something new in my life.
Either way, I want to receive it with open, ready hands.
Do you make time to be still and recharge? Why or why not?
Tina Plett, Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate