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!