Once I was 7 years old & was already The LEXpert

Any of my clients can tell you that I am always making random observations about any house I show them.

I was just thinking about that this morning and realized I have always done that, ever since I was a kid.  I have always been critiquing, comparing/contrasting houses as long as I can remember.

When I was probably 7 years old, I noticed that our backyard was flatter, more private, but smaller than the houses across the street.  Ours was better for playing hide and seek and my best friend’s house across the street was better for playing baseball.  That same house had an addition built on the back of it that had this smaller section of a larger L shaped room.  I never got why it was built that way.  It was wasted space.

We moved into a very small house that had a shared driveway.  It was very steep.  So steep that nobody ever used it for cars.  I remember thinking “Who would do that do a house?”  It was a two bedroom house.  One of the bedrooms was more than twice as big as the other.  That bothered me a bit.  The house next door was the same floor plan just reversed.  You could look out our hall window and see into their hall window….which led to the first time my 9 year old eyes saw a girl in her underwear, lol.

Then we moved to another town.  Our house sat lower than the ones to the side and rear.  That really bothered me.  The house behind us wasn’t there when we moved in, so I knew how much better it was without a house there.  Once the houses behind us were built, we started to have some drainage problems.  This is probably why I am always trying to help clients visualize what might be in the empty lots and fields around them when they build a house.

Then we moved to Lexington when I was in high school.  We had a cool house.  The house on both sides sat way back in their lots.  It was strange to see a house on either side of your backyard fence, but it made it nice to look out the side windows and see grass instead of having a brick wall 10 feet away.  It was this neighborhood that taught me a bit about traffic patterns and which roads got more cars than others.

Then I got married and we lived in an apartment on Redding Road.  I loved that location.  Close to everything.  We had a basement apartment. I didn’t like that.  There wasn’t much natural light and everybody parked right at our front door.

Then we moved into one of those houses that sat way back in their lot next door to my parent’s house.  It sat lower than their house.  I felt like my parent’s house was about to jump over the fence into my front yard.  I didn’t like it.

The first house we owned was in Winchester.  I really liked that house, but it began a trend of me living about 2-3 houses in from a busy corner and having a busy road a block behind me.  I don’t like a bedroom on the back of the house when you have a busy road back there.  Makes it harder to fall asleep.

The next house didn’t have a flat ten square feet anywhere on the lot.  I don’t like sloping lots.

The next house had a flat lot.  Other than the noise from the busy road behind it, I liked it a lot.

All of which brings me to my current house.  It broke the curse of the busy road behind me.  I’m about as far into my neighborhood as you can be.  There are only two ways in and out of the neighborhood.  Nobody comes down my dead end road unless they are lost or neighbors.  I like that.  I keep saying I want to move but I haven’t found anything I like any better.  About all I would change is to have more natural light and maybe taller ceilings on the main level.

So, when I say:

“Will that busy road being so close bother you?”

“If you were to have kids, do you know that there is no where to put a swingset or sandbox?”

“This house is dark inside.  Will that bother you?”

“Does it bother you that the neighbor’s deck sits higher than your deck and you won’t have much privacy if both of you are outside?”

You now have an idea of how I came to notice these types of things.

What’s it like being a realtor?

It is EXACTLY like you see on HGTV.

Hahahaha.  No.  Not really.

I can’t speak to what it is like for most realtors, only myself….so here goes.

What is a typical day like?

There really are no typical days for me.  Some days I have more things to do than I have time.  Other days I have little to do.  Some days I am running all over the place.  Other days I am sitting in front of a computer all day.

What is the busiest time of day?

It has always seemed like 3-5 Monday through Friday is when my phone blows up.  Clients, other realtors, appraisers, etc.  I guess people are trying to finish their to do list for the day or are just getting off work and ready to talk real estate.

What have you done today so far?

This is usually a slower time of year for me.  I tend to do most of work in waves.  This is the between waves time.  I just closed the most work I have ever done in the past 8 months and am waiting for the next wave to come.  I used to get nervous during these times, thinking it would never come back, but it always does.  I am trying to enjoy it.  I guess I still haven’t answered the question?  Today I slept in a bit, drank some coffee, sat with my dog while scrolling through Facebook.  Then I ran some comps for an upcoming listing, cranked out a few emails, and started this blog.  Unless something changes, my plans for the rest of the day are to wash cars.  However, what often happens with any slow day is that you wake up with little to do and suddenly you have a lot to do.   It can change in a heart beat depending on if you have a problem with a transaction of if a cool houses hits the market and you have to show it to a client.

What is the best part of being a realtor?

Helping people and being trusted.  Most of my work anymore is from people who have used me several times.  They know I am giving them the best advice possible to serve their interests.  The second best thing is getting to drive around in cars I love.

What is the worst part?

Not having much free time.  I have taken one full day off in the past 15 years.  Sometimes I have very little to do, but there is always something that needs done, plus you never know when the right house is going to hit the market and you need to get one of your clients in to see it.  It is sort of like being on call 24/7.

How has it changed in the past 15 years?

When I got into this, realtors dressed up a lot and hung around the office.  I didn’t see the point of either.  Now it is much more casual and realtors work from home more often.  We used to present offers to sellers or fax the offer to the listing agent’s office.  Then we quit presenting offers (THANKFULLY!) and used PDFs.  Today we use electronic signatures and the actual document doesn’t even physically exist unless somebody prints it.  I used to spend hours a day talking on the phone.  Now everybody texts.

What will the next 15 years be like for you?

I hope pretty much the same.  I enjoy working.  I hope my streak of working with people who have used me in the past and people that were referred to me continues.  I never had to advertise or do any marketing to attract work and I sure hope I never have to do that…..mostly because I am no good at it.

Why THIS sale means so much to me

I just sold this townhouse.  Know why it is significant to me?

1156 Appian 305 - 001

Because it was the very first house I ever sold.

It was late Spring in 2005.  The ink was still drying on my real estate license when some friends of mine were in the market for their first house.  We looked for a few months and they decided on this place.  It was brand new.

I’ve got a few funny memories of this sale and this townhouse.

It was closing day.  I was really stressed out since this was going to be my first closing ever.  It seemed like such a huge deal at the time.

One of the things a Buyer’s agent has to do is get the Buyer’s earnest money check to take to the closing.  I had not thought about the earnest money since I turned in the Buyer’s original check to my office manager.  Here we were hours before the closing and I am in a mad rush to get my office to cut the check.

We get to the closing.  This was the last 15 minutes of a super hot market.  The closing was at 5 on Friday.  The title company probably had 15 closing that day.  Everybody was eager to get home.  I remember the closing attorney and the listing agent talking about the emerging trend of getting granite countertops.

Once the closing was done, I went out to my car and made sure I had all the documents I needed to take back to my office.  I was so relieved to have it done.

Then I realized two things:  That the closing attorney did not ask for my Buyer’s earnest money check AND they did not give me my commission check.  I had to run around the parking lot looking for her.  LOL, yes, I forgot that I was getting a paycheck since I was so focused on getting everything done and doing it correctly.

What did I do with that paycheck?  I bought a couch that we still have in our living room.

A while after my friends moved in, the husband and I were going out on a Friday night with another friend.  I picked up the other friend and we went to this townhouse.  The seller was on his computer watching some silly Star Wars Lego video.  I asked what it was and he said Youtube.  I was like “WHATtube???”  He explained that it was a site where people could upload videos for anybody to watch.  I remember thinking “Why would I want to watch a bunch of homemade movies when I have cable TV?”

I’ve remained friends with these sellers and this will be their 4th time using me.

I’ve probably never said it this directly, but I am incredibly thankful that they decided to put their faith in a guy with zero experience.  Getting started in real estate is very tough…or at least it was in 2005.  And now 14 years later, almost to the exact date, they have trusted me again.

(NOTE:  While that red BMW in the picture does look nice, I wanted to disclose it is not one of mine.)

 

 

 

What’s it like being The LEXpert?

I guess I have been busy.  I’ve closed 15 sales and have 9 pending sales, plus a few buyers out looking for that perfect place.

I feel like I never work and at the same time, I feel like I am always working.  It’s a strange thing.  I guess where it doesn’t really “Feel” like a job, I don’t notice how much I do it?

9 of these clients were referred to me by people I know and/or past clients.  8 were people I knew, some of whom have used me multiple times.  6 were past clients wanting to use me again.  Only 1 was a brand new client.  This family found THIS blog you are reading and called me.

What’s it been like this year for me?  Pretty nice.  I really enjoy working with people I know and those who are referred by people I know.  There is a level of built in trust that comes with being referred.  I normally don’t have to put on a polished presentation to try to win over a new client.  They’ve usually already decided to use me based on a recommendation of a friend, who I assume has told them I am a car crazy, short and sandal wearing, big guy who wants the best for his clients.  While most realtors are always looking for new work, my work always finds me first.

This comes so natural to me that I honestly sometimes feel like I don’t deserve the commission checks I get.  I mean, I wake up, look at houses, tell people what I think they should do, determine what a house is worth, come up with the best strategy for achieving a client’s goals, talk a lot, drive around in my cars a lot, listen to 80s music, see people I know.  Go to bed.  Rinse.  Wash.  Repeat.  It’s really just a nice way of spending your days.

Why a reality show about me would be boring

#7.  It is easier to prevent a problem than it is to solve one.

Years ago, I wrote a list of things I’ve learned over the years.  This was one of them and it has really helped my clients.

I recently wrote an offer on a corner lot house.  Any seasoned agent knows that there might be an issue with where a fence can be on a corner lot house.  I told my people that I suspected they could only fence from the rear corner of the house, which means that the space you can fence is smaller than a normal lot, and you have all this space outside the fence that you can’t really use.

They liked the house, so we called the city to see if it was okay.  The city gave a verbal “Ok” to fencing all the way to the sidewalk.  We wrote an offer.  I wrote that the offer was contingent on both the city and deed restrictions allowing a fence to be put up where my clients wanted it.

We got the deed restrictions.  They said that no fence is allowed closer to the road than the building set back line.  While that is better than my worst case scenario, it only bought my client about 11 feet more of yard.  They didn’t want the house.  All I had to do was tell the other agent and it was over.

Can you imagine what it would have been like if I hadn’t put those contingencies?  The buyer might have found out later and lost their earnest money for backing out of the contract.  Even worse, what if they had moved in, paid for a fence to be put where the city approved, and then get a letter from the HOA saying they had to remove the fence?

I just closed a deal where the buyer’s agent kept telling me that the buyer may change their lender.  This doesn’t happen often, especially when you are already past the closing date on the contract.  I told the other agent to let me know when we had a closing date and THEN I would have the seller schedule a mover.   There was no way I was going to let my seller move out and be paying for a vacant house while we waited on this buyer to decide which lender they wanted to use.

I just sold an old friend a house that has propane heat.  When we saw the house, it was very cold inside.  My buyer got the home inspection scheduled.  I texted the listing agent to make sure the utilities are on.  Sure enough, there is no propane in the tank.  That would have been a problem on inspection day if I had not asked.  We would have needed to extend the inspection timeline, paid to bring back the inspector to check it out, etc.  The other agent tells me they will have propane for the furnace by inspection day.

I guess a reality show about me would not be worth watching.  I try to think things through and prevent as many problems as I can.  It would be pretty boring to have a show with very little drama.  I doubt people would continue watching it after the commercials.