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They Need A Realty Check

, , , , | Right | January 26, 2022

I’m planning to move from South Carolina to North Carolina and have reached the point where I need to look at houses in person. My brother already lives near my destination, so I’m going to stay with him while looking at houses with my realtor, whom I’ve only spoken to on the phone so far.

I’m looking for something fairly remote — as I put it, “Far enough from the neighbors that nobody will mind if I sing at the top of my voice in the middle of the night, and far enough from the road that my cat can play outside without any danger of getting run over.”

Two days before I leave for my brother’s, I call my realtor to plan our itinerary.

Me: “I’d like to start with [list of addresses]. They’re fairly close together and all looked good online.”

Realtor: “Okay, I can schedule those for [Day I plan to drive to North Carolina].”

Me: “That works, but I’ll be pretty drained from four hours on the road. Rather than both of us driving to each house, can I meet you at your office and both go in your car? I have a terrible sense of direction and I just don’t think I’ll be up to driving to three unfamiliar locations that afternoon.”

I have GPS on my phone, but I get very nervous if I don’t know the way to a destination ahead of time, and I have trouble following spoken directions, so I only ever use it as an emergency backup.

Realtor: “People don’t ask me that very often, but yes, we can do that.”

We talk a bit longer, and I hang up. I have a feeling that I’ve messed up somehow, but can’t put my finger on it at first. Then, I ask my mom:

Me: “Hang on. Did I just ask a man I barely know to drive me to three of the most isolated houses I could find in an unfamiliar state, specifically because I’ll be tired, out-of-it, and incapable of finding my way to or home from them on my own?”

It honestly hadn’t occurred to me until I hung up that that might be dangerous, especially since I’m a woman. My brother ended up taking me to view the houses, and the realtor was a perfectly nice guy, but I don’t think that conversation did me any favors in the “convincing Mom I’ll be okay living on my own” area.

Web Design Is Not Safe As Houses

, , , , | Right | January 12, 2022

This story happened a few years ago. A friend refers me to his mother, a real estate agent who wants a new website for her business. I call her to set up an appointment.

Client: “So, what is your expertise in real estate?”

Me: “I’ve done two real-estate websites in the past, and they’ve been quite successful. I can provide you with a searchable database of listings where buyers can filter by price and other factors, as well as a homepage with featured listings, your bio, and anything else you’d like to include.”

Client: “Yes, but have you ever sold a house before?”

Me: “No.”

Client: “Why not?”

Me: “Because I’m not a real estate agent. I’m a web developer.”

Client: “So how do you expect to do a website for me if you don’t know anything about being a realtor?”

Me: “I know enough to build a website with a listing database which you can very easily populate with descriptions, photos, and any other info you wish to provide the buyers with. I can also provide other tools, such as a mortgage calculator and a lead-tracking system that allows potential buyers to contact you with listings they are interested in.”

Client: “I really don’t think you know what you’re doing. I think I’m going to have to pass and find someone who knows how to sell a house.”

Later, I discovered she had finished her website. On Geocities. Yellow background. 50pt font. Seemingly designed by a ‘real’ real estate agent…

That’ll Take The Wind Out Of Your Sales

, , , , | Working | January 10, 2022

In the past few months, the real estate market has been crazy in my area. People being out of work and low-interest rates have brought around real estate investors looking to buy houses on the cheap and then rent them out.

My husband and I decided to take advantage of the lower rates and scored a sweet refinance deal. The following day, I get this call.

Caller: “Good afternoon, Ms. [My Name]. I’m [Caller] from [Company]. We’re looking to buy investment properties in your area and we’d really like to help you out. I understand you still owe [amount] on your home?”

Me: “Not anymore. We just refinanced.” 

Caller: “Oh… um… Was it for more than [amount]?” 

Me: “Oh, yeah. Looking forward to upgrading the place.” 

Caller: “Well… Um…” *Audibly shuffles papers around* “Was it more than six months ago?” 

Me: *Laughing* “We closed on it yesterday.” 

Caller: “Oh…” *Long pause* “I… um… don’t think we can help you, then.” 

Me: “Didn’t ask for your help.” 

The guy didn’t even say anything; he just sighed and hung up the phone.

Your Offer Has Been Shelved

, , , , | Right | December 27, 2021

I’m showing a couple around a house for sale. They make all the right noises, and it is well within their budget. Suddenly, the wife starts asking a lot of really specific questions.

Potential Buyer: “Are all the shelves included?”

Me: “Yes, all shelves are included.”

Potential Buyer: “I’m not sure I like them.”

Me: “I know that the homeowner did mention that could be easily removed and he stated that he still has some of the original paint.”

Potential Buyer: “Oh, I think we would repaint.”

Me: “Great, that would work well.”

Potential Buyer: “Do you think he would move the shelves?”

Me: “Move? As in, take them down and put them up somewhere else?”

Potential Buyer: “Yes, over there somewhere.”

Me: “That’s not a typical query, but you can ask, and maybe after contracts have been signed.”

Potential Buyer: *Aggressive* “No, no, no. I want to see if they look good before I make my offer.”

Me: “I can ask, but I doubt that would be possible.”

Potential Buyer: “Well, tell him that he does it or I won’t buy it. See how he likes that!”

Me: “Not a problem. I will do that later.”

I had a chat with the homeowner. I advised him not to do anything of the sort and instructed the office to take no more bookings for this house from that woman.

We agreed on an asking price offer a few days later with a different couple. The first woman was furious: “How dare we sell the house she was negotiating on!?”

I spoke to the new owners a few months after they moved in. All went to plan, and yes, they kept the shelves.

Taking Pushy Salesmen To The Next Level

, , , , | Working | December 13, 2021

We have been looking to move to a specific area in a specific city. Houses rarely go up for sale, so we signed up with every estate agent that works in the area to get notifications as soon as a house came up for sale.

One house was emailed to me that I swear we saw a long while ago; it was hard to forget. It was way overpriced and an absolute tip. It was grubby and outdated and had several DIY “improvements” that made no sense.

Of course, every estate agent then emailed me to let me know it was for sale. I replied to each of them that this house wasn’t for us. But the emails kept coming, every other day, for weeks.

I was deleting them at first. When I read them, I realised they were all from one estate agent, one of the first I had told I wasn’t interested. 

Eventually, he rang me.

Estate Agent #1: “Hi! [Long spiel]. Just checking you got my emails about the property for sale.”

Me: “Oh, yes, I did, actually. I thought I responded that I wasn’t interested.”

Estate Agent #1: “Are you sure? Properties don’t go up for sale very often and this is a big property.”

Me: “I know, but it’s way over our budget and I think we will wait.”

He followed up with a push to go see the house even though we couldn’t afford it. He kept harping on and on about the house with really specific details of what was spent on it and improvements. I just said yes to get him off the phone. I called back the next day to cancel, and luckily, I spoke to a different associate.

Me: “I’m ringing to cancel a viewing on [Property]. It’s [My Name].”

Estate Agent #2: “That’s odd; we don’t have you booked in. Who did you speak to?”

Me: “It was [Estate Agent #1].”

Estate Agent #2: “That makes sense. [Estate Agent #1] no longer works here.”

Me: “Oh, okay. Well, I’m happy to receive property updates, just not on that property.”

Estate Agent #2: “Yes, not a problem. That property is no longer represented by us.”

Me: “O… kay? Good, then, I think.”

When the agent responds, it almost sounds like they’re reading from a script.

Estate Agent #2: “It was a conflict of interests, and we cannot represent a property where one of our employees may have an active stake or controlling interest.”

Me: “Ah, that explains the insistence, and probably the price.”

That was the last time I saw that property advertised, and we did find another one eventually, in better condition and price.