Do It for Love, It Doesn't Always Have to be About Money

Real Estate Agent with Florida Supreme Realty SL514814

It was in the Spring of '83 when I first met William. Our office was in a location which attracted a lot of walk-ins and even though associates were scheduled for "floor times" if they wanted them there were always that handful of agents who could never make their appointed times. I intentionally avoided being scheduled but would take floor when others did not show up if I had the time. I could work just as well at that desk, located steps from the front door, as I could from my desk upstairs.

We were one of a 17 office realty corporation having about 600 agents at the time. Everyone there knew what our ultimate goals were and it was preached throughout the company via its principals and managing brokers. I can't think of another brokerage and agents that cooperated so, so swimmingly. This was my first venture outside the family business.

William came through the door and approached somewhat sheepishly. He said he had been to 5 other offices asking if anyone could help him. He was losing his apartment and was fed up with renting. He decided he wanted to buy something! With virtually no cash and minimal income, every office he  went into he kept hearing "I can't help you" and was really shaken at this point. I offered him some coffee and he sat on one of the love seats to gather his thoughts. 

Mortgage rates were hovering around 13% then but money was available in spite of that. I knew I could get him qualified for a small home maybe a twin. The problem was his cash or lack thereof. Where are you gonna turn? Why FHA of course, I never understood the negative stigma these loans had and they were actually much better then than they are now. We talked for about an hour and I showed him what he might be able to afford if he had about $3,500 to spare. He didn't, but at least I didn't send him on his way like the others. He appreciated that.

Then the subject of hobbies came up. His passion was model trains, specifically Lionel. The bulk of his collection was attributed to his Grandfather having the wherewithal to regularly purchase his trains from a relatively young age and continue that regiment throughout his life. How he knew that someday Lionel trains would reach six figure values is beyond me. His son, William's Dad, also had a penchant to do the same and subsequently those genes must have passed to William whose hobby along with that history was now quite impressive.  Then the touchy subject of parting with his prized possessions came up. At first it was a no go although he called me back a few days later and he said let's see what we could do. I already had two other collectors lined up to see what he had and a hobby shop owner that also wanted a piece of the collection. Fortunately, the need to dig deep into his most sentimental pieces was not necessary. I'm not sure he really knew what their value was until the offers were doled out. In all honesty it surprised the hell out of me also.

We looked at three homes and the fourth was a stone single with a great basememt that had plenty of natural light peering through. He didn't need to look any further. His only concern was where his remaining tracks and trains were going to call home. The layout was already visualizeded and our initial offer was accepted . William was ecstatic since he was able to keep the bulk of his family treasure and now had a place to call his forever home.

I moved to Florida in 1986 and had only returned North a few times in the interim but in 2006 I went up and stayed for a few days and for kicks went to see William's home again. He wasn't there however his daughter, whom I had never met, was and after offering her some background information she let me in to see his sprawling tracks and miniaturized countryside. If there were no clues to its scale and Wawa was added to the buildings you might think you were Gulliver. It was & is magnificent, exactly as he explained they would be some 20 years earlier. I left my card with her and said my goodbyes. A couple of days later I got a call and a tearful William thanked me profusely again and again for changing his life. As you can now guess he had started his famly in that first home and was now married with two fabulous children. He could not have been happier. Give them a few more years and I'll probably be selling him and the wife their a Winter home here. I don't think he'll need to sell any of his Lionel collection but if he did it's value today would most likely secure his not needing a mortgage. Such a generous man who although somewhat frugal has the riches of Soloman in family. Wonderful to see and know!

I still have clients that I've sold homes to and their children and their children's children. Hoping that I can capture that 4th generation also. When you hear that this is a people business that's true but it's also much more than that. It's a life changing business the longer you're in it, both for your life and that of your customers! All aboard!


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Comments (14)

Ron and Alexandra Seigel
Napa Consultants - Carpinteria, CA
Luxury Real Estate Branding, Marketing & Strategy


I had a feeling that you were that kind of a guy...and I really enjoyed the story as well as the fact that you went back to visit the family...When we lived in Napa there was a lender that had the same type of family lending you spoke off.  Well done.  A

Feb 11, 2019 02:14 PM
Kevin J. May

I have never rented and understand the want of owning a home. There are a couple more stories I have to sort through that tell very different and yet very similar circumstances. Thank you Alexandra!

Feb 11, 2019 06:58 PM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

What an awesome story! Twice blessed.😇

Feb 11, 2019 02:22 PM
Kevin J. May

When we walked in to the house that familiar look came upon his face which told me he was home. No better feeling in this business except closing & keys handed over.

Feb 11, 2019 07:02 PM
Brian England
Vacasa - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

Where there is a will, there is a way and I am glad you helped him purchase a home that he loved!

Feb 12, 2019 05:59 AM
Kevin J. May

I forgot to add that we were able to get him refinanced in '91 or '92 at a decent single digit rate essentially over the phone. He might have loved that too Brian! Not everyone should be a homeowner but he was destined to become one!

Feb 12, 2019 09:10 AM
Kathy Streib
Room Service Home Staging - Delray Beach, FL
Home Stager - Palm Beach County,FL -561-914-6224

Kevin- I love that you took the time to see what you could do to help William!  (although I'm not surprised!!!)  What a beautiful story and who knew how valuable those trains would be!!!

Feb 12, 2019 06:26 PM
Kevin J. May

I believe he's got more than a couple in the six figures now and it was a pleasure getting him where he wanted to be when others would not take the time. Yes, there are times when we actually have to earn our livelihood it's as simple as that Kathy!


Feb 12, 2019 06:59 PM
James Dray
Fathom Realty - Bentonville, AR
Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results

Morning Kevin.

What a great story, I found this due toa re-blog from Kathy Streib.  Carol Williams here you go, this is great

Feb 13, 2019 01:27 AM
Kevin J. May

James, AR definitly has some long arms and I am so, so happy that you reached out. I call that a truly arms length transaction .

Feb 13, 2019 10:55 AM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker, eXp Realty - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

What an amazing story. It sounds like it was a great thing for both of you that he wandered into your office that day. 

Feb 13, 2019 03:26 AM
Kevin J. May

We both knew it would be a challenge albeit not insurmountable. I did not want to see him get back into a rental and he had had enough of them. My kind of Buyer for sure!

Feb 13, 2019 10:51 AM
Ginny Gorman
RI Real Estate Services ~ 401-529-7849~ RI Waterfront Real Estate - North Kingstown, RI
Homes for Sale in Southern RI and beyond

Kevin J. May what a fabulous story of help & connections.  Love this story that you contributed so well to!

Feb 13, 2019 03:47 AM
Kevin J. May

The FORCE was strong in this one Ginny. I wasn't about to let William walk away without a fight. He was destined for home ownership and proved it to me every step of the way.

Feb 13, 2019 10:47 AM
Carol Williams
Although I'm retired, I love sharing my knowledge and learning from other real estate industry professionals. - Wenatchee, WA
Retired Agent / Broker / Property Manager

Hi Kevin,
Great story.  You never know what people can do until you dig a little deeper.  You had the patience and kindness to do that and found a way.  I think it's awesome that Williams ancestors unknowingly helped him buy a home. 

Feb 13, 2019 06:53 AM
Kevin J. May

Carol, the habit of collecting things intrigues me but choosing what to collect intrigues me even more. Wish I had my Hot Wheels now and hoping my Sponge Bob interests can be cashed out some day. Lionel came out in early 1900's and by the twenties had made their mark as collectibles. Oh, I had Lionel too but played with it too much to have any real value. The original box, what box!

Feb 13, 2019 10:43 AM
Lisa Von Domek
Lisa Von Domek Team - Dallas, TX
....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless!

Hello Kevin J. May you took the time to make things happen and this client was so fortunate to have walked into your office that day.  Well done and thank you for sharing all three of your wonderful love stories for our contest!

Feb 13, 2019 07:11 AM
Kevin J. May

Lisa, I too get tired of listening to associates who are negative so I have to commend William for giving it another try. With me it's always one more phone call, an email a text or a knock on a door until all probability is gone. You've got me on a roll now, somebody stop me! THX

Feb 13, 2019 10:25 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Oh my goodness, what a heartwarming story, Kevin! I love the way you operate - it's NOT about the money and you actually listened to his needs, acted and guided accordingly and WOW, what a wonderful ending. 

I love that you went back and that he followed up with another 'thank you' call - you made his dreams come true. 

Thank you so much for sharing this story.

Feb 16, 2019 09:51 PM
Kevin J. May

Debe, dollars never ruin a sale until they become your primary focus. I didn't see their negative impact until agents I knew directed their entire business seeking bonuses and higher coop fees before pursuing the transaction. It's not a bad thing but it does diminish the "people" part of the business.  

Feb 17, 2019 05:13 AM
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
The right Charlotte REALTOR!

Carol Williams - this is a fantastic post for your second-chance Saturday list (if it didn't make it already)!

Feb 16, 2019 09:52 PM
Kevin J. May

Oh my Debe, I believe you made it happen. Thank you Carol Williams 

Mar 09, 2019 11:37 AM
Hannah Williams
HomeStarr Realty - Philadelphia, PA
Expertise NE Philadelphia & Bucks 215-820-3376

So glad  Carol Williams included this  Kevin J. May in SCS as I missed your wonderful story.  You are so right it is not always about the money. It is about helping people find a house they can call home, isn't it? That is just what you did. Love your post.

Mar 09, 2019 10:31 AM
Kevin J. May

So strange you commented at this particular time. I had just finished reading about Susan Haughton's passing then saw your Happy Birthday question for her from January. Susan also had a knack for selling houses and turning them into homes for her clients. A task not easily learned. Please excuse my digression during this somber time of reminiscing about the many we have lost here. RIP and may God bless you Susan.

Mar 09, 2019 11:35 AM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

I love this story and appreciate you sharing it with us. You most definitely made a difference in that man's life - and he touched yours, as well.

Mar 09, 2019 12:21 PM
Kevin J. May

You really couldn't not want to help this guy out Marte. It only took slightly more effort to make it all come together. Teamwork rose to the occasion!

Mar 09, 2019 04:14 PM
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

What a great story.  It helps to find out what makes clients tick and try to work with them.  Great way to get a mortgage and house for this train loving person!

I grew up with this stuff so it makes it more poignant!

Mar 13, 2019 09:48 AM
Kevin J. May

Ultimately somewhat of a condensed version John, although it shall always remain a favorite from beginning until its end. I don't believe that has happened yet!

Mar 13, 2019 06:43 PM