First off, when I say of course I remember you, I’m not talking about YOU.
I could never forget you. Why, we’ve known each other since <INSERT DATE>, back in the day in <INSERT TOWN OR SCHOOL>. I particularly remember how we <INSERT MEMORY> and how even when the police picked us up, we refused to give each other up. You and I are solid <INSERT AFFECTIONATE TERM>!
When I say “Of course I remember you!” I’m quoting something I often say to people I’ve had interactions with over my career in real estate.
In the course of my work, I meet buyers, sellers, investors, tenants, lawyers, accountants, home inspectors, stagers, cleaners, renovators and many more types of people.
Sometimes we end up working together, either with them as my client or my using their services for myself or one of my clients.
Other times, it doesn’t make sense to work together. They might decide to list their home with another agent with whom they have a personal connection. Or they might end up having to put a purchase on hold while they work on their finances.
If you view this as a transactional business, where each interaction is only measured on if it is going to make money, the above examples are wasted time. If no business comes from it, then time was spent on something that paid nothing in return.
In my early days at Keller Williams, I heard a Realtor say something that made me smile. He was relating the story of how a fellow he met told him he wasn’t planning on selling anytime soon. My colleague said “No problem. I’m going to be in real estate for another 30 years before I retire. As long as you sell within that time frame, we’re good.”
I’ve used that line a few times since then and it always gets a laugh out of the other person. I think we find that humourous because it flips expectations upside down and turns the idea of a short term transaction into a long term relationship. No one calls a service provider 20 years after they met unless a relationship was formed where the client and the provider kept in touch.
I’ve been fortunate to work with great clients and have them refer friends and colleagues to me over the years. Those referrals mean a lot to me, as it shows me that they were happy with the level of service and our interactions and trust me to do a good job with someone they care about.
My other favourite occurrence is when I get a call or email from someone I met but didn’t actually end up working with. When these people reach out to me, it often starts with them saying they don’t know if I remember them. In all honesty, in every one of those occasions, I do remember them – because we had a good interaction and I remember hoping we’d get a chance to work together at some point.
Here’s a few of my favourite stories about people I met at one point and ended up working with months or years later.
No rental but a sale…and a purchase…and a purchase
One of my friends and clients referred me to her sister and brother in law, who were looking for a house to rent in Durham region. I happily accepted the referral as my client is great and I knew her family would be great as well.
We looked at some options out there but were having difficulty finding anything that suited in the budget we had available. I shared with these folks that when it comes to rentals, MLS is not the only source they should consider. There are lots of landlords who don’t want to pay a realtor a commission to bring a tenant and a significant number of rentals are only on free sites likes Craigslist and Kijiji.
They followed my advice and were able to find a great rental property from a landlord who didn’t want to pay an agent. I congratulated them on finding the place and that was it. I didn’t make any money on the work I had done, but they were happy, so I was happy.
A couple of years later, my friend and client told me that her sister’s husband (let’s call him Jimbo) had inherited a home in Toronto when his father passed away. He had appreciated my help with the rental in Durham and wanted to talk to me about selling it for him and his brother. I met with the brothers, they hired me and we sold the home for the highest price ever on that street for a bungalow.
Jimbo hired me to help buy a new place for him and his wife and his brother hired me to help buy him a place up in York Region.
I was able to spend time with people I like, help them with their real estate needs and get paid for my work – because I didn’t focus on short term or what I got out of the original work.
No sale…but then a different sale
A few years back, I did a listing presentation for a potential client out in Ajax. They had seen the Keller Williams signs around and decided to check us out. I went to meet with the owners of the property, who were two brothers who had inherited the home when their father passed away. Different brothers from the above story, I promise!
One brother couldn’t make the appointment we set and instead I presented to the one brother and his wife. We had a great conversation and really clicked and I was looking forward to working with them as I knew it would be enjoyable. In the end, the brother who hadn’t been able to attend felt strongly that their father would have liked them to use a realtor they had known for years and they decided to go that route.
When the brother I’d met called to tell me the news, I was disappointed but understood the situation. He told me if they ever decide to sell, they’d definitely give me a call as they enjoyed our meeting.
Earlier this year, I had a call from the brother and his wife from that home, saying they wanted to sell their house around the corner and they wanted me to do it. I went and met them at their lovely home, talked about how to best sell it and we signed it up. We sold it a couple of weeks ago for a great price in the midst of a significant slow down in the Ajax market.
I count these clients as amongst my favourite clients and count myself lucky that we had that initial opportunity to meet even if it didn’t turn into business. When I got the call to come see them for their home, it was a thrilling call, reminding me that real estate is a career for me, not a transaction.
I have a number of stories like this from my time in real estate and I share them with new agents when they get discouraged. Realtors meet people during what can be a very stressful time in their lives. When you treat people you meet with consideration and come from contribution, you can make a real difference in how they feel.
I hope to send an updated version with new stories to you each year. Some in progress right now include:
- A commercial tenant who I’m helping find office space for, after I met him at a listing presentation for his home in Markham. He decided to go with a local agent for the sale of his home and called me last week to help with his current commercial needs as he remembered and like me from our meeting.
- An investor who is using me to buy a property this week and who I’m working hard to earn the right to help him with other planned purchases. I had discussions with him and his wife to possibly sell their home but it made more sense for them to go with another option. When this came up, they were kind enough to call me and I’m going to do my best to prove how I can help with all their investment needs.
- A seller who hired a discount brokerage to sell their home, who I’ve been dealing with bringing a buyer. We’ve had a number of discussions as I provide customer service they weren’t receiving from their supposed listing brokerage. We came to an agreement on a fair sale price and in our last conversation they told me when they sell their other home next year, they want me on their side as their listing agent.
If you or someone you like need some real estate help, please reach out to me. I would love the opportunity to help – be it with information, direction or recommendations. I’m confident that whether we work together now or later, if I do my job properly, you’ll eventually say you want me to be responsible for what comes next.
Make ducts to carry hot air conduit, plumbing, gas, and other services in the triangular space, within the vault, around the upper edge of every room.
This isn’t the sexiest of design lessons, but I can tell you that when you are trying to locate pipes, wires or other services that are hidden behind the walls of a home, it can be incredibly expensive. Whether it is in duct space or another agreed upon way, it would be very helpful for builders and architects to create a standard for how to include these services.
If you are doing extensive renovations on a home, take the time to make sure you accurately record where such services and key junctions are located. If possible, include removable hatches that are unobtrusive so that when the day comes you need to access the space, it is easy and doesn’t require cutting holes in walls or floors.