What's Your Story for this House?

Real Estate Agent with Keller Williams Realty Diamond Partners Inc

 I doubt I am the only REALTOR®  who creates their own narrative every time they show a home, especially a foreclosure or short sale property. As I approach the house I observe the attention to detail reflected in the maintenance or lack of maintenance visible from a distance. As I fumble with the lockbox I notice the little things, the polished doorknob or the broken screen on the front of the house.

Opening the door I am immediately hit with an assault on my olfactory sense and find the musty smell of mold a tell-tale sign that the former owners reached a point of desperation before moving out and either deliberately or inadvertently allowed the commodes to overflow or the shower to overspray onto the bathroom floor and soak through the floor and into the drywall ceiling below.

As I lead the wary buyers down the stairs to the partially finished basement I am overwhelmed by the stack of building materials waiting for the owners to finish what they have started and I realize that they had good intentions. They had dreams of a home for their family when they realized that the sky really was falling and they would be forced to retreat to a small decrepit rental unit or single-wide perhaps never to dare dreaming again.

As I share the excitement of the young first-time buyers who tell me how they are going to finish the basement, mitigate the mold, trim the lawn and create their own American Dream, I can't help shedding a tear for the family that a year or so earlier had similar dreams.

Our business is not about numbers and square feet and interest rates and short sales. It is about people, about families, about dreams and shattered dreams. Unless you are willing to let the narratives of the families you serve connect with your emotional inner being, you will miss the greatest reward of being a REALTOR®.  If we are afraid of being hurt when we share the broken dreams of one family, we will not have the joy of sharing the budding dreams of another.


John E Cleek, Ph.D., e-PRO, 
Realtor® and Marketing Consultant
The CrownPlatinum Team
Crown Realty of Kansas
Miami County - Linn County - Johnson County
1005 W. Amity • Louisburg, KS 66053
Licensed in Kansas and Missouri
Pho: 913-709-4423 • Fax: 913-837-2549
Finding the RIGHT REALTOR . . . Priceless!

Comments (12)

Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I just recently experienced this very same thing.  However, the problem was that the Bank winterized the home... and never had anyone check it.  The pipes burst, and it was the most horrendous mess!  I don't understand why lenders do not stay on top of this so that the property ends up in such a horrid state! 

Apr 16, 2009 02:47 PM
Bob Foster
Century 21 Lanthorn R. E. Ltd. Belleville, Ontario - Belleville, ON

Hi John. Yes, I am sure that we do this, and that our buyer clients do as well.


Apr 16, 2009 03:04 PM
Shirley Parks
Sands Realty 210-414-0966 - San Antonio, TX
Broker, 210-414-0966, San Antonio TX Real Estate

Hi John.  Yep, I do that too.  But so do my buyers.  The people I am working with now have a nickname for each house we look at.  :-)

Apr 16, 2009 03:12 PM
Terry Chenier
Homelife Glenayre Realty - Mission, BC

Hi John,

Great post. People in our industry tend to forget all the dreams and aspirations homeowners have or had.

Apr 17, 2009 01:32 AM
Patt M. Judd
First Realty Company - Cookeville, TN
Realtor - Your Cookeville Connection

Hello John, I as well do understand what you are saying. We are seeing a greater influx in epo momes but a greater amound off first time home buyers.  Good luck  Patt Judd

Apr 17, 2009 03:22 AM
Tina Gleisner
Home Tips for Women - Portsmouth, NH
Home Tips for Women

Wow, what a wonderful & personal side to real estate that I've not thought of much.

Apr 18, 2009 01:28 AM
Connie Case
Platinum Realty Group - Fountain City, TN
Realtor, Knoxville Tn.


I love your story, and I think we probably all dream up stories for our houses!

A house does reflect the owners, whether we want it to or not, ot oh, I need to clean my front windows, at home! The flower-beds need tending too!

Apr 19, 2009 03:05 AM
Sue Paige
ERA Today Realty, Windham, ME 04062 - Windham, ME

It is also a sad day when talking with a client about their pricing for a listing, knowing they will not earn any money from the transaction of a sale. I have been known to shed a tear or two with the client when the reality hits them. There is an emotional side to this job and you said it in a wonderful way. It is sad when a house is allowed to become a disaster but there are folks who have just lost all their will to portray their pride. The pride is gone.

We need to be aware that we are dealing with peoples' emotions on a daily basis, some good, some happy, and some sad.

Apr 20, 2009 05:09 AM
Maria Morton
Platinum Realty - Kansas City, MO
Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758

One of the things I love about being a realtor is helping people. We are in a people business. Both my buyer and seller clients benefit from my knowledge and personal attention to each individual situation.

Apr 22, 2009 05:17 AM
Anna Banana Kruchten CRS, Phoenix Broker
HomeSmart Real Estate BR030809000 - Phoenix, AZ

Hi John.....no truer words.  I feel the same way when working with buyers or sellers.  It's their life, their dreams, their hopes, their expectations that we are previliged to part of......what a great profession.  We are caregivers and experts in real estate.  Dynomite Duo!

Apr 23, 2009 01:10 AM
Dr. Stacey-Ann Baugh
Century 21 New Millennium - Upper Marlboro, MD
A doctor who makes house calls.

I agree with you.  Each buyer or seller has a story and I consider it a priviledge to be a part of that story. Great reminder for us all.

Feb 21, 2010 03:48 AM
John Cleek
Keller Williams Realty Diamond Partners Inc - Olathe, KS

Too bad for our profession that so many agents see only things and make no emotional connection with the people who make the things meaningful.

I become more convinced of this with every client I am privileged to serve. There is no way I can provide a buyer with quality service if I do not take time to listen to their story.

I feel so strongly about this that I made it a lead-off issue in my new book, Seven Steps to Home Ownership.

Feb 25, 2010 01:03 AM