The Problem with Real Estate Is:
LIFE GETS IN THE WAY!
A typical phone call might play like this:
Prospect: "Hey, saw your sign on Post Road and wanted to know how much that house is?"
Agent: "Oh, we have two on that block. Was it the green one with blue shutters or the gray one with yellow vinyl siding?"
Prospect: "It's the green one me and Janet wanted to see." But, I want to know the list price before anything else.
Agent: "Hold on a minute and I'll look that up for you right now. (20 second pause for look up) Here it is. The price is 199,900 and the taxes are $5200 a year including property and school. Would you like to see it?
Prospect: "Well that's a little outside our budget, but I guess it might be OK to take a look."
Agent: "I have this Tuesday at 2:00 p.m. or this coming Sunday at 10:00 a.m. open. Which day would be better for you?"
Prospect: "Tuesday is fine. My wife and I have the day off. We'll meet you at the house on Post Road at 2:00 if that's OK with you."
Agent: "That's fine. I'll bring some more information on the home and property then. By the way, that home is in one of the best school districts in town. Do you have any children? "
Prospect: "Sure do, 2 boys and 2 girls and a real handful." (Baby starts crying in the background) Gotta run, baby Billy is waking up and hungry. See Tuesday at 2.
How this all really turns out:
The agent's name is John Kavaller-that would be me and is my real name. The Prospects are Bill and Janet Homebuyer. Bill and Janet are now actually my clients. I am representing them as a buyer's agent.
Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer have four kids ages 3 months to ten years old. Bill is a diesel mechanic for the local trucking firm in town and makes an excellent and steady salary. Janet works part-time designing infant clothing in her tiny workshop at home.
The Homebuyers are upwardly mobile, made a good choice with their first home purchase in 1998, and are ready to move on to a bigger home suitable for their large family.
Janet, Bill and all four children show up Tuesday at Post Road. Thankfully, Janet has brought along a mother's helper to keep the children in order and change a diaper or two during the showing.
Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer and I have a short chat about their dream home, but we waste no time entering the house at Post Road.
The showing went well. Bill and Janet asked thoughtful and provocative questions and displayed a real understanding of what they wanted and how the home played or did not play to those specific needs.
My clients also mentioned they had a prequalification letter from Best Bank in the amount of $175,000 and had about $20,000 saved in cash. They would be using the cash and an upcoming gift toward the new home purchase.
As the showing draws to a close, Bill says thanks and he'll be in touch. This house was OK, but not special enough to really think too much about. Janet mentioned she'd be doing some on-line research and get back to me with other properties they might want to see.
Fast Forward-Three Months Later:
Three months have now elapsed. Mr. and Mrs. Homebuyer have not contacted me. No email, no phone calls. Nothing. I'm thinking that I must have offended them or they found another agent they liked better.
I probably should have followed up with Bill and Janet long before the 3 months zoomed by, but I was quite busy with active customers and clients and put them on the back burner. In retrospect, that was not a good idea on my part. But my own schedule got in the way of doing good business.
Several days pass after the 3-month hiatus and I get a phone call from Janet Homebuyer. Billie, Jr., now 6 months old is wailing in the background. The conversation goes like this:
Janet Homebuyer: "Hi John-sorry bout the screaming. Billie's got a bad cold and just woke up from his knap. Anyway-Bill asked me to call you. We found a house we really want to see. It's not too far from the one we saw with you-was it like maybe three months ago?"
John Kavaller (Agent): "Hey Janet-good to hear from you again. Should have given you a buzz to find out how things were going."
Janet: "Don't worry about that. We had so much going on with the kids. Sports, homework, Bill's Mom and Dad's visit from Arizona-that stuff and more really put a stop to us trying to look for a bigger place. Plus Bill just got a promotion and had to move half the diesel workshop to another location. He's been promoted and is going to take over the entire repair shop for his company."
John: "Well it's really good to hear from you Janet and I'm pleased we are still working together. What home did you want to see? "
Janet: "Oh, there's one on Grand Avenue. It's right across from the elementary school my kids go to. It's big, has a very large backyard, and has a fence for Perry-- my big Akita." Do you have time to show this weekend?"
Summation: LIFE GETS IN THE WAY OF REAL ESTATE.
Clients and customers take up a property search, put it down, change parameters, change locations, lose jobs, get new employment, relocate, recover from surgery, have children, go out on medical leave, start caring for an elderly parent- and so on.
The search for real estate recedes to a lower priority status for many who start the process and disappear without note or fanfare. A sincere agent is able to adjust and move on with the process even though continuity has been broken for a certain time frame.
I know I've done my job when the closing papers are signed, the keys handed over to my clients, and life, once again, gets in the way of real estate.
John Kavaller (NYS Licensed Sales Agent and Realtor®)