You know two of the absolute best parts of being a realtor?
One is making friends with your clients and the other is when they call you back to work with them again.
If the past couple of weeks is any indication, my 2022 is going be a really fun year!
I’ve got a client/friend I don’t get to see all that often who needs me again. We have had Indian food for lunch twice to discuss the plans. It is always nice to get to see people face to face after mostly keeping up online.
I have another client/friend who is leaving town. I will miss them. We have had so many good times and drank a lot of coffee over the years.
I woke up this past Saturday morning to a text from a client/friend. It was actually my own contact information, so I figured she was probably trying to send it to somebody she knew. Sure enough, once I got out of bed, I got a text from her mother wanting to see a house that had just come on the market. I have met her mother before and really liked her. Her and her husband bought the house and now I get to help them out. I absolutely LOVE it when I become the Family Realtor and get to know everybody.
I closed a house for some out of state sellers who I have worked with a few times. Unfortunately one of them is in poor health. I did everything I could to not only make it a smooth transaction for them, but I also tried to handle some things along the way so I didn’t need to bother them. One of those was a home inspection repair. We only had one item on the list, which was an HVAC thermostat problem. I sent my HVAC person over and told him to do whatever is needed to satisfy the buyer. Then I paid him for it. I only filled the sellers in after it was all said and done since I didn’t want them to have to deal with it. I wasn’t expecting to be repaid, but they insisted. After the closing, they sent me a nice gift and a card. They wrote “John, please accept this small token of appreciation for all the extra help you did every time we needed you! Thank you for being not just a realtor but a wonderful human being. We really appreciate you and everything you’ve done for us during this difficult time.”
Reading that card meant so much to me. I remember when I was in my early 20s, I was as lost as anybody that age about what I wanted to with my life. I really enjoyed helping people out back then. Stuff like helping people move, shoveling their snow, pet sitting, dropping off/picking up people at their mechanic and such. I remember sitting in my basement apartment on Redding Road thinking “I wish just helping your friends was a career“.
Turns out that was a viable option after all!
I’m as tired of talking about COVID as anybody else in the world, but I’ve got to bring it up because it has fueled two trends in the real estate market. One is that everybody is moving up the real estate ladder due to low interest rates and the boost in equity the market has given them. I am seeing far more sales over $1,000,000 in the past year. Some of these buyers are wanting to get into their favorite neighborhood and a lot of them are wanting a place in the country.
The other trend is scaling back. Many people just want a more simple life and/or are into the F.I.R.E. movement…..meaning Financial Independence Retire Early.
I’ve been wanting to scale things back myself the past few years…….including myself since I was so overweight. Here’s my story. I think sitting around the house during the lockdown got me thinking about it more.
I grew up in the 80s. I’m a Gen Xer. I wanted the American Dream just like everybody does. I never considered myself all that materialistic. I knew stuff wasn’t going to make you happy if you were not already happy. I viewed stuff as icing on the cake of life. I have had a good life. I married when I was young and still am happily married 30 years later. I had great kids who I love in a way they will never know until they become parents. Life was and still is good. I thought stuff would make it better. As my real estate career took off, I got the chance to do a lot of things I couldn’t before, some of them I never thought I would do. I took nice vacations. I had a big house in a prestigious neighborhood (that was very outdated because I hate remodeling a house while living in it.) I was able to collect cars and waste a fortune on them. I was able to write 5 digit checks to one of my favorite charities.
The more stuff I had though, the more stress I had. Stuff needs your attention. Stuff needs maintenance. I started realizing that this stuff I thought would be fun to have was actually making my life worse. My friends would tell me to hire people to take care of my stuff for me. While that saves the time of doing it yourself, telling somebody what to do and then checking that they did it still takes a little time and mental energy.
As I was considering upgrading my Porsche 911 S to a 911 GT3, I realized that better stuff wasn’t the answer. Why? Better stuff is still stuff. Remember, stuff needs your attention. Stuff needs maintenance. So, I jumped off that train and decided that I only wanted stuff in my life if it made my life better. I still have far too many cars and I think it is time to let a couple of them go even though I really enjoy them. I just think my life would be better with less since good stuff is still stuff.
Those are the two trends I am personally seeing with my clients. Most of them want to get the biggest and best house they can afford and others are wanting less house than they have had. I’ve personally done both so I get the appeal of each one. It’s fun working with both of these type of buyers since they are both getting what they want.
I’ve got a busy week coming up. I have 3 people who the only thing they have in common are that they have houses to sell and have picked me to be their realtor.
Two of the clients have used me before. One of them is a family member.
The house in the first block of Kenwick is owned by a person whose mother used me to sell a house in Palomar. I don’t even remember how they found me. They were great to work with. I had lost contact with the daughter. I had often thought of her since she lived in Kenwick, and I did too when I was much younger. One day out of the blue, she calls me and says she is buying and selling. She didn’t think I would remember her since it had been close to 15 years, but I couldn’t forget her. She had to do a little digging to track me down since I had gone out on my own several years ago. It has been great catching up with her and working with her on her new home. She is fun, laid back and very wise.
The house in Beaumont is owned by a very special family to me. They used me to buy the house many years ago. I thoroughly enjoyed working with them and was very excited when they told me it was time to move again. We found their perfect home within walking distance of their old home. We had quite a dramatic time buying the new place since it was in multiple offers. This family is just so nice and pleasant to work with. It has been one of the highlights of my summer to work with them again.
The house in Landowne Merrick is owned by my cousin’s family. It has served them well but it’s time to move up to something that better fits their stage in life now. I don’t get to see my cousin all that much so it has been a lot of fun to go look at houses with her and her husband. Sometimes my aunt and uncle show up to for the showings so it is like a family reunion but at some stranger’s house.
I’ve got two more listings in the pipeline that should be ready before long. It’s been a great year and an especially great summer. Selling these three houses for these three fantastic sellers will be a nice way to wrap up my summer.
I’ve seen a few sellers lately make some bad decisions.
I get it. Selling your home is something you only do so often and I don’t expect them to understand the market and all the obstacles between sticking the sign in the yard and the closing. All they know is that the market is hot and selling your house is easy.
What they don’t know is that keeping it sold can sometimes be a lot of work.
I recently had a friend decide to list with some less experienced agent who was going to reduce the commission. I was going to reduce my commission to ZERO since this person was a friend and they had some circumstances that required them to move, guess I should have told them that sooner. I had been giving advice and working towards getting this done for close to a year. To this seller, all they were thinking about was saving money. Well, you only realize that savings when you close the sale. The house sold and is back on the market. Usually when a house comes back on the market, it doesn’t get the same attention from buyers. Most buyers in the market have already seen it and either said no to the house or made an offer that obviously wasn’t the best one or they would have gotten it the first time. This is where experience is worth every penny, even though I wasn’t planning on getting any pennies from this sale.
I am currently working hard to keep a deal together for a house where the buyer went to do the final walk through before the closing and found the ice maker had been leaking and has caused $12k in damage to the house. I know if my listing goes back on the market, we will never again catch such a fantastically qualified buyer who was the highest bidder, so I better put on my thinking cap and get this done.
These are just a couple of current examples of where experience can make or break a sale. The goal is to get to the closing. I am thinking about the entire process, not just the beginning. Not just the next step.
As I was making my second cup of coffee and thinking about writing this post, it reminded me of the early days of GPS. You’d enter the destination and take off. I think that is how most sellers view this process…….”I’ve got a realtor and they just stuck a sign in the yard. It’s all downhill from here!” If nothing goes wrong, then that is very true. But how often have you had your GPS take a crazy route or not know about construction, wrecks or other annoying delays? It’s the same with real estate. A lot of inexperienced agents don’t know what to lookout for along the way or don’t know how to negotiate. Sometimes you have to take an alternate route. Sometimes you need to change lanes along the way. A good realtor is more like the Waze app……not only are we watching out for delays, we are looking for speed traps and doing it all in real time as we get you to the final destination, which is the closing.
It’s been a good week.
It all started when I had two buyers make offers on houses and they both got them. Both went over the list price of course as that is becoming far more common.
One of them was a house that had come back on the market after a sale fell apart. I called the listing realtor and asked why it fell apart. She told me that before the seller put the house on the market, he had a specific home inspector look over the house and repaired everything the inspector found. Well, the first buyer used a different home inspector and decided they didn’t want the house. The listing agent thought the buyer just cold feet and used the inspection as a way of getting out of the deal. That happens unfortunately.
I know nobody likes it when a house comes back on the market. The house often doesn’t have the same momentum the second time. I also know that sellers start getting nervous about selling their house even in this crazy hot market. It turns out that my buyer had told me who she was planning on using for the inspection and it was the same inspection company the seller had used. I saw this as an advantage. I knew it would be a huge deal to the seller and listing realtor if they knew we were planning on using the same company since there would be no surprises.
So, instead of writing an offer with an escalation clause, I called up the listing realtor and pretty much said “Hey, how about we give you so much above the last contract you had on the house AND we agree to use the same home inspection company your seller used before they listed it? Would that keep you from waiting to get more offers and just sell it to us right now?” Fortunately it was and my buyer got the house. She later told me she was prepared to go to a certain number if needed and that I saved her a lot of money. Close to $18k to be exact. Had it gone into multiple offers, odds are she would have paid much more than she did. I just knew what to do to make the seller accept our offer. My dad always said “Think like the other person’s perspective.” I knew the seller was anxious about the home inspection after the sale fell apart and having the same company he used do our inspection would make him feel like the house was really going to sell this time……thanks Dad and Happy Father’s Day!