Before I was in real estate I used to frequent the same coffee shop as Jim Henderson and his friends. I knew very little about him except that he had a great sense of humor.
After I got into real estate I realized that nothing in the real estate course material gave me any indication as to the relationship between the realtor and the lawyer. I made an appointment to meet with Jim Henderson to ask him a few questions.
I arrived at Loewen Banman Henderson Legault LLP office on Main Street in Steinbach and made my way up the stairs to Jim’s office. Jim introduced me to his staff and took me into his office. We sat across from each other and he asked me how he could be of service. I believe I only asked him one question. I started with a statement such as this. ” Jim, no one has told me what the relationship is between a Real Estate Professional and a Lawyer. Could you tell me from your side of the desk what it is that you require from Me?”
Before I share with you Jim’s response there is something I want to tell you about Jim’s communication style. Can you say STRAIGHTFORWARD? Tell it like it is. No salt. Later in my career I found this very useful. On this day it took me a little by surprise. I learned things this day that has shaped how I treat other professionals in this business.
Jim looked me in the eyes in silence. No one had asked him this question before. When he opened his mouth I felt more like a councillor than a Realtor. His educational words came out more like an overdue VENT. He began with a harsh statement. “Realtors are abusive to Lawyers and Lenders!” I can still hear the agitated tone in his voice. Then he elaborated. Some points I remember clearly.
1. Real estate contracts are being written with short deadlines for possession. That creates a lot of stress for the lender and the lawyer. The Lawyer already has a stack of work on his desk. When we ask for a short possession, they have to set aside all of the other important work that they are doing to accommodate that one deal. The lawyer has to wait until he gets the mortgage documents from the lender. Lawyers do not appreciate having to be put under this much pressure for their time. They feel disrespected when short possessions are required of them. Jim mentioned to me that a two-week possession was doable. He also let me know that if I would take the time to help him understand why a possession was necessary to happen very quickly, that he most certainly was willing to make an exception and accommodate a quick close. Please leave a month from writing to possession if possible.(The Realtors that I had spoken to said the lawyer can easily get it done in a week. They do it all the time.)
2. The lawyer does not have the relationship with the seller or buyer that the Realtor does. They may not even have the contact information for the client they are to represent. Jim suggested that when we send him an offer to purchase that we also give him some information about the seller or the buyer and please, please, please also give them the contact information.
3. Be clear on the terms and conditions. Take the time to clearly write the specifics into the contract.
4. Never, ever leave conditions open up until possession!
5. Do not allow a buyer into the house after the conditions are met until possession date.
6. Don’t complain about the inconvenience of having to drive somewhere to go get a signature. You must get signatures before deadlines. You get paid very well so just take the drive and get the blasted signature.
Well, he elaborated on all the reasons why and all the risks that Realtors take. He made no bones about the fact that he did not have respect for some of the Realtors in our area. In fact, he warned me about a high producing local Realtor. He said, “____is a liar and a thief. He has always been a liar and a thief. He will always be a liar and a thief.”
Before I left the office, Jim suggested that if I ever was unclear on how to write a term or a condition in an offer that it was less work for him to coach me on how to write it than it was on correcting a sloppy offer after the fact. He offered to be of assistance. I took him up on it and he was there for me.
This is what I recently told Jim that I say to others about him.
Jim has taken the time to admonish me when I make mistakes. In fact, he’s the only man in my life who can give me shit and get away with it! I know that when Jim puts me in my place (tells me where the bear shits) it’s because he cares about me. He has tried to educate me so that I would protect myself and my buyers when I write contracts. One time he took almost a half hour to help me write out a condition on a deal. I know the difference between term, promise, and condition because Jim took the time to explain it to me. I look at contracts a different way than I would have without his training. Jim has taking me out for lunch and giving me phone calls just to encourage me and my business. He has been like a business father to me.
Jim, thank you. Thank you for all the time you have taken to help me develop in business and personally. Thank you for taking care of the people I sent your way. I am sorry you had all those crazy out of province deals from me. Sorry for all the time you took on the deals that did not close.
Oh man, I am going to miss him. R.I.P. Jim Henderson