What I want in 2018

I am about 8 weeks away from celebrating my 13th year in real estate.

When I got into this, a lot of agents thought I was crazy and that I would never make it in this industry.  Why?  I didn’t want to do all the tasks that we were told we had to do to attract business.  I didn’t want to mail out basketball schedules, calendars, packets of seed with a card that said “Help me grow my business.”  I wanted to be out and about doing things that kept me on top of the market.  Things that would benefit my clients.  I got into real estate because I love the market and houses, not because I loved mailing people stuff.

Other agents also thought I was crazy because I wore shorts and sandals all the time.  Ok, they may have been right about that one.

I was told that if I didn’t do all those things, people wouldn’t remember me.  I said that if somebody used me as their agent and forgot about me, I didn’t deserve to be remembered.

I was excited to view every house I could because the more houses I was in, the better I knew the market and neighborhoods.

As the market went sour, I gained momentum.  The agents who use to laugh at me began asking me what I was doing to get so much work.

It grew and grew until it peaked in 2014.  I was in the top 1.5% of all the agents in my area.  2015, 2016 and 2017 were all good years.  I did less work, but I enjoyed it much more and  had more time to focus on each client.

I’ve pretty much achieved all the goals I made 13 years ago.  It’s been a wild and fun ride.  Sort of like surfing and riding a bucking bronco at the same time.  What a rush.

So what do I want out of 2018?  I mean me personally…..sure my goal has always been to be the best realtor I can for my clients and always will be.  The fact that almost all my work is repeat clients and referrals from past clients shows that is happening.  But what do I want to say to myself on January 1st in 2019?

I want to look back and say “Man, that was fun.”

That is it.  No setting goals for how many houses I want to sell.  No setting goals for how much money I want to make.  No comparing myself to other agents.  I’m past all that.  I just want to be the best version of me I can so I can be the best realtor I can be…..and I want to enjoy every single day.

 

What do you really want in a house?

I’ve lived in my house for just over 5 years.

My biggest complaints?  I don’t have taller ceilings and I don’t have a lot of natural light.

What do I like about it?  I’ve got lots of space.  We have some empty cabinets and are no where near running out of room to store stuff.  I’ve got more than average room to park cars.  I’ve got a big lot with a lot of trees.  I like that I sit sort of high on my street and have some open space I can see between and over my neighbor’s houses.

I also like that the master bedroom is upstairs.  I don’t like it when the master is on the main level and is right off of a living space.  I like to feel like I am tucked in far away from any possible noise or distraction when I go to bed.

I find myself always looking out the windows.  I love watching the wind move tree branches.  It is like the trees are dancing.  I’ve got several peekaboo views of a golf course and a pond.

I like that I am on a dead end street about as deep in my neighborhood as possible.  It is very peaceful except when the dogs behind me are barking.

The funny thing about all this is that none of my favorite things about this house were part of the criteria for the search.

Like a lot of buyers, I based my search on logical things:  Bedroom count, square footage, part of town and price range.

I got some bonus things that were not part of that criteria.  I compromised on some things too….like my 8 foot ceilings and lack of natural light due to all the amazing trees that block the sun.

Being a realtor for over 12 years, I know that often the logical criteria gets thrown out the window when a buyer sees a house that triggers something emotionally for them.

For me, I was willing to compromise as soon as I pulled up to the house and saw the landscaping and the wide front lawn.  We were willing to do some updating after we saw the fireplace on the covered patio and all the trees in the backyard.  (We are still willing to do updating….meaning it hasn’t happened yet, haha!)

Almost all my buyers end up buying a house that is slightly different from the logical criteria they tell me they want.  And that is okay.  It’s all about finding a place you love.  Sometimes you don’t know what features you will fall in love with until you see them.

LEXpert flashback: When I was a volleyball star

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I listed this little cabin in the woods last week.  I normally don’t go this far out of Lexington, but it was for a past client.

Then I got to thinking that this client, who has used me before, came from another past client, who came from another past client, who was referred from my cousin….so THANK YOU Ashton!  This cabin will be the 11th sale from one referral.

I love it when people refer their friends and family to me.  See, I was never good at sports or anything.  I was always the last or second to last person picked in gym class.  It was either me or a guy named Brian who had an equal amount of sports aptitude…..unless the game was volleyball.

Everybody wanted me on their team for volleyball.  Not that I had any talent in spiking the ball, or even hitting it really.  My special talent was serving.  I could serve the ball and every time I did, we scored a point.

I was always scared to death that they would realize my secret.  I would have all these anxious soundtracks playing in my head like Kevin from “Wonder Years.”

“Will they realize my secret?”

“What will happen if they do?”

“I don’t want to be picked last again!”

Since I probably won’t be playing volleyball competitively again, would you like to know my secret?

I’m left handed.

About the only place in school being a Leftie paid off was playing volleyball.  All those right handed people would serve and the ball would go to the same place.  The opposing teams just got use to the ball being served there.  When I served, it would not go diagonally, but straight, and usually to the back row where the players were least prepared.  I am just glad I was with a bunch of middle school kids who were too preoccupied with pimples, staring at Tonya Jones, or perfecting their moon walk…..because nobody ever figured out that my serve went somewhere differently.  Not once did anybody realize this for all 3 years.

It sure was nice to be the top pick every once in a while back then.  It is even nicer to be the top pick for returning clients and for those who have been referred to me.

 

Old house/New house & my latest car

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Cars and houses.

Those are my two things.  I can’t talk about too much else.  I don’t keep up with politics, pop culture or sports.  Get me on either of these two items though, and I am hard to shut up.

I recently added another car to my collection…..if you want to call a bunch of cars that aren’t old enough to be classics a collection.  Junk yard or used car lot is probably a more accurate term.

Sure, I’ve got a new car I use for work.  It looks good.  Is fast.  Gets lots of compliments.  But to me, it is sterile and generic.  It isn’t anything special because you can go to the dealership and buy one just like it.  I don’t feel anything but comfortable when driving it.

What gets my blood circulating is older BMWs.  I love the way they handle.  I love the way they look.  To me, the 90s-early 2000 BMWs were the high point for the brand.  An era I want to celebrate.

They don’t build them like they use to.

That is a phrase you often hear about older houses too.  Just like some people are into older cars verses new ones, some people also prefer an older house to a new one.  Old house people think all new houses are build poorly and lack any character.  The people who like new houses don’t want old house problems or floor plans that don’t work as well for today’s lifestyle.

Whether it is cars or houses, it is cool to like whatever you want.

As a realtor, the task at hand is getting in the mindset of your client and figuring out which they want.  When I buy a car, it is about what I want.  When I am trying to make a real estate love connection for a client, it is all about what they want.  Sometimes they don’t know yet and you need to help them figure it out.

After 12 years of doing this, I can pretty much tell if a client is really wanting to build a brand new house.  If you show them perfectly good move in ready houses and they don’t like any of them, they probably want to build even if they don’t realize it yet.   Another obvious sign is if their previous houses were brand new.  You would be amazed at how many people build a brand new house with each move.

The old house people will sometimes look at new houses, but they don’t like that the trees are small, or comment about the lack of character or perceived quality.  They walk in a perfectly good new house and don’t have any reaction at all.  It is just a structure with 4 walls to them.  Take them in an older house and they light up.

What do I like?  Both really.  In my dream world, I have an old house in a cool part of Lexington.  In that same dream world I have a super modern beach house.  The kind that is mostly glass.  In the garages of each place, I have a couple of older BMWs and also a new car because sometimes it is really nice to hop in a new car with really good air conditioning, comfortable seats and an awesome stereo with bluetooth.

 

How my 4 houses helps me understand move-up buyers

My first house.

7 Ky Street

 

I loved everything about it.  It looked cute.  The mortgage was cheap.  It had two original fireplace mantles.  It didn’t bother me that it didn’t even have a driveway, or that there were some houses nearby that had been converted into cheap apartments.  It was my first home.  The threshold was low and I was happy.

 

My next house.

New outside

 

It was really a dump when we bought it, but I was so happy to have a garage, a master bathroom and to be the trashiest house on a nice street verses the best house on a trashy street.  I quickly grew to hate the trek from upstairs to the garage when I would take my kids to school, and the awkwardness of the split foyer design when people would come over.  The threshold for happiness was still low since having more space, that garage and my own bathroom were enough to get me excited.  It was better than the first house and that was enough.

 

My next house.

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This is the one where we started getting more picky.  Doing things like wanting to know if any houses around it were rentals, checking out the pantry and school districts.  The first house was better than renting a house.  The second house was better than the first.  That type of thinking wasn’t going to cut it on this move.  I loved living here, although there was no storage or anything.  Also, I was told that my lot was the gravel pit for the neighborhood, which is why the grass never looked good in the front yard.

 

The current house.

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We weren’t going to settle as much this time.  We looked and looked and looked at many houses.  The yard had to be flat.  There had to be more storage space.  The kitchen had to have a better pantry and more counter space.  The previous houses were more about finding a house we liked.  This one had to be in a certain part of town.  We didn’t have to move.  We wanted to move……which gets me to the point of this post.

And that point is that buyers who have owned several house and are now looking for their pinnacle house, the one they will live in before they start downsizing, are pretty picky.  And that is okay.

These buyers have lived in enough places to know what they want and more importantly, what they don’t want.  They know what they can compromise on and what they can’t.  The gray area that was okay for previous houses is gone.  There is no “Well, maybe that won’t bother me as much as I think it will.”

 

My next house??

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Maybe something like this.  I love windows.  I love looking out and seeing leaves blowing in the wind, and clouds, and birds in the air.  I want to feel like I am outside even when I am inside.  I want it bright.  I want a view.  Of something.  Trees, water, anything other than the back of my neighbor’s house.  I want to feel inspired by the architecture of my next house.

And the next house will probably be at the center of many posts about downsizing and empty nest buyers.