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.

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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.

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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.

 

The perfect day in real estate

I just love warm weather.  I love being outside.  Feeling the sun and seeing the blue sky.  Driving with the top town.  Meeting clients.  Looking at houses.

I had one of those perfect days this week.

It started out by showing a fixer-upper to some friends who want to get into the rental market.  We always have a great time and they always pick interesting houses.  The one I showed them this week had two baths, which is normally a good thing…..only the 2nd bath was where a closet use to be.  I am glad I took a picture because there is no way I could possibly describe it.

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From there, I drove with the top down in the M Roadster to see a house on 10 acres with a pool.  I had to wear a hat to keep my forehead from burning.  I normally would have been a little anxious about having “Hat Head” but the buyer is a repeat client that I really like….he knows I am no fashionista.

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I had a couples hours of down time before heading to Jessamine County to show the next house.  I took all back roads to get there because I’d rather have a pretty view and be moving than stuck in traffic.  This place sits on an acre and was a super cool house.  My clients have two young sons that are always a lot of fun to talk with.

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I wrapped up that showing close to sunset.  I had a nice drive home with the cooler evening temperatures on the same back roads, only this time heading towards home.

Great clients.  Great properties.  Great day!

How I grew up to become The LEXpert

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A little tubular box just like this one is what got me into real estate.  I remember all the times I sat in my grandparent’s family room and the thrill of pulling that plastic top off the cardboard container.  My grandfather would be sitting in his green plaid Lazy-Boy recliner watching golf or some sport on the 19 inch TV with a rabbit ear antenna.  The room was paneled.  Had a giant brick fireplace that took up most of the wall.  I would sit and built houses with these 50-60 pieces.  I played with these so much that the cardboard tube was badly frayed where the lid goes from taking it off and putting it on so many time.

 

Then I stepped up to this:

105 pieces of pure real estate pleasure.  It totally amazes me now to think how far Legos have come.  Most today are about building something and following a plan.  Back then, it was about being creative and making something that only existed in your mind.

I mainly did modern, flat roof houses because with only 105 pieces, you didn’t want to use half of them to make a sloped roof.

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Then I started to draw floor plans.  It was the 80s.  The dawn of the open floor plan for the masses.  There was still enough 70s left over that things like Conversation Pits, like I have in this house, were as cool as firepits and reclaimed wood are today.  My grandfather got me the drafting kit for something like my 10th or 11th birthday.  I still have the note inside that he wrote me.  I wish it had a date on it, but neither of us realized I might need it nearly 40 years later for something called a blog.

Then I got into neighborhoods.  Thinking about how one street compared to another and such.  Asking myself which house was better, which lot was better, what I liked or disliked about each.  We lived in Frankfort at the time.  I remember thinking our cul de sac was one of the better ones in the neighborhood, but I didn’t like that it sat at the bottom of the hill, and that the house behind us sat slightly higher than ours……but it was still far better than the houses closer to the East-West Connector Road with all the traffic noise.

I’d go to Florida in the summers to see my grandparents.  My entertainment was having them drive me around cool neighborhoods and going to model homes to see new houses.

People often ask me how long I have been in real estate.  I tell them I’ve had my license since 2005, but I’ve been in real estate all my life.