We sold the home, created the lasting friendship and then the worst thing imaginable happens;

Title Insurance with Old Republic Title 126029

They die.  Whether you get the phone call or read it in the paper, the customer that you had a lasting relationship with has passed away.  You will probably attend the funeral or at the very least send flowers.

I remember the first customer of mine that passed away.  I actually read about it in the paper and attended the funeral.  That was probably 8 or 9 years ago and there have been many since then.  I started keeping a file with obituaries and mark their file in my Palm Centro with the appropriate information.

I think the toughest one to date was Craig A.  I met Craig and Toni as they drove through my neighborhood looking for a home for their handicapped daughter.  We met & I showed them some homes and found the perfect one and the rest is history.  Craig was a CPA as was Toni and after that they became my CPA.  They were very good at what they did and as a result I referred them several clients.  I always looked forward to the annual visits but there were the times running to each other at the store or other places.  Craig lost his bout with Cancer and of course I attended the funeral and in fact I will never forget it.  It was truly one of those "celebrations of life" rather than a sad funeral.  Now Toni does my taxes and I still look forward to my annual visit as well as the "bump ins" at the store, etc.

I read the paper/obituary section with a certain amount of anxiety now.  I have actually found out about many of their deaths this way but I am grateful so I can send flowers or attend the funeral but it never gets easier.  These are my clients but more importantly they are my friends.  I am witness to their ups and downs, births of children and grandchildren and of course their deaths.  If someone had told me years ago when I first got into the business that this would happen, I would more than likely have blown them off but it's true, this is very much a part of the business as it is our own lives.  That doesn't make it any easier but I realize now that it is a part of being a successful agent/Realtor® and it's one that I take very seriously so if this has not yet happened to you, just wait, it will but I hope you will take the time to attend the funeral or send flowers and remember to talk to or visit the spouse or other family member after they have had time to grieve.  I know they will appreciate you for it.  Remember they consider you a friend as well.

Posted by

Russell Benson, Realtor®
Prudential Alliance Realty
Oklahoma City, OK
Serving Oklahoman's since 1998

Comments (14)

Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

It's happened to me several times over the years.  It's sad but we remember them with friendliness. 

May 17, 2009 10:46 AM
Terry Miller
Miller Homes Group - Tyler, TX
Miller Homes Group and Tyler Apartment Locator

I always remember them with agreat amount of respect. It is always tough though.

May 17, 2009 10:48 AM
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services

I have been "lucky" so far.  My clients seem to be young and having their kids right now.  It must be very difficult.

May 17, 2009 10:51 AM
Sheila Moran
RE/MAX Access (Garden Ridge, San Antonio, New Braunfels) - New Braunfels, TX
SanAntonioSheila.com, RE/MAX Access, 210-32


Gosh, I have even had this happen to me a few times (during the transaction)....it's so painful to see and be a part of.

But, it's also good to see those things in life that might bring them to mind and remember them...make sure you let their family know what those instances might be that make you remember...I promise you they will thank you.

May 17, 2009 11:09 AM
Barb Szabo, CRS
RE/MAX Above & Beyond - Cleveland, OH
E-pro Realtor, Cleveland Ohio Homes

Russell, Last November I went to the funeral of a 32 year old "young" man to whom I had sold a home. He had a beautiful wife and 2 adorable children. And you are right, it doesn't get any easier no matter how many you attend.

May 17, 2009 11:26 AM
Cindy Jones
Integrity Real Estate Group - Woodbridge, VA
Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News

The worst we ever experienced was a couple who were both killed on their way to closing in a car accident.  Everyone was sitting around the settlement table waiting.  No one could reach them and it wasn't characteristic of them to be late.  Everyone was frantic and it was 2 days before we learned what had happened. 

May 17, 2009 11:42 AM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

Barb:  So far most have been older folks but it is still difficult no matter the age.

Cindy:  That is terrible.  I'm sure their deaths were the last thing everyone imagined.  Closing is supposed to be a happy time.

May 17, 2009 12:31 PM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

Sheila:  I have never had anything like that happen but I'm sure the odds are it will.

Lenn:  I'm curious if you send out cards the following year or the years after someone passes?  I have a couple of close clients/friends that I do send out a card as I know that date will always be on their mind.

Joan:  Hopefully this will help you get prepared for when that day comes.  I was 31 when I started in the real estate business and never really thought about this issue and what to do when it does happen but now that I have gone through many, the process does not seem quite as tough though I still dread it.  My very first customer/transaction is an older lady whom I still visit from time to time and she signs her Christmas card to me:  Your First Customer.  Some of my clients I've grown very attached to and some are like mothers or grandmothers.

May 17, 2009 12:38 PM
Lenn Harley
Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate - Leesburg, VA
Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland

No Russell.  I can't dwell on the past. 

May 17, 2009 09:40 PM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

Lenn:  I totally understand.  This is a part of life most of us don't ever want to think about.

May 18, 2009 01:54 AM
Terrie Leighton
Ferrari-Lund Real Estate - Reno, NV
Reno Real Estate Agent ~ Selling Homes in Reno

Russell ~ It sounds like a you are a pretty special guy who seems to make quite an impression on your clients! I am sure it is never easy to loose clients.I think it is great that you will try to go to funerals of past clients and are able to remain friends with the entire family.

May 18, 2009 08:59 AM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

Terrie:  I think we tend to get attached to some of our clients.  I have received gifts such as gift cards, bottles of wine and even a free surgery (yes, free surgery) and have appreciated each and every one of them.  Likewise I have sent gifts for weddings and births to numerous clients to honor that valued friendship like we would a close friend or family member because in time, they do become like family and there is one family that has 3 generations that I have helped and that is a pretty awesome thing!

May 18, 2009 09:55 AM
Joe Pryor
The Virtual Real Estate Team - Oklahoma City, OK
REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties

Russell, good to read your blog post but I am sorry for the occassion of it. Let me know where else you blog so I can follow you. Hope your business is good this year, and good luck the rest of the year.

Jun 27, 2009 03:26 AM
Russell Benson
Old Republic Title - Norman, OK
We'd love to close your deal at Old Republic!

Joe:  Thanks for the visit.  I heard you are doing well and that is very good news.  Business has been great but it seems like the govenment is making it harder with the endless rules and regs that are coming out designed to help the consumers (say what?).

See ya soon!

Jun 27, 2009 03:50 AM