I always try to keep any job harrumph-ings away from social media. Complaints only make the complainer into one of those annoying folks who start every week with a funny cartoon depicting how much they hate Mondays, and a constant celebration of victories almost seem to push one into salesman mode- “Look how good I am! Buy a house from me!” I never want to be either of those things, so save for stating goals each month, or posting new listings, I try to keep business and personal life very separate. That being said, I’ve recently discovered a job hazard that I just cannot keep quiet about.
My career isn’t built to be that of sales. I know folks who compare those in the world of read estate to used car salesmen, peddling their wares to make a profit. I’ve always argued that it isn’t my job to sell anyone a house, rather it’s to guide my clients through the purchase or release of one of the biggest investments of their life. My daily duties include reassuring my Buyers that their purchases are the right choice, calming my Sellers when an open house doesn’t gather as much attention as it should. Those in my career are incredibly fortunate that some days, our agenda includes “celebratory lunch with Jackie,” or “Kevin and Anna’s Housewarming party.”
Throughout the course of my day-to-day, the biggest responsibility I have is to build a relationship with those I represent. It’s not what I would call a difficult task, but it is one that requires effort, sincerity, and an emotional connection to my clients. These people are- after all- instilling a huge amount of trust in me to guide them through this experience. There’s a large amount of dependency on their Realtor, and there are almost always panicked, late night phone calls that perhaps, changing the countertop wasn’t a good idea. There are complications with moving- perhaps the movers just can’t show up, and my clients have to hit the road without the majority of their possessions, leaving me in charge of making sure no furniture is left behind, that the roof doesn’t leak during Kentucky spring storms. The dependency, the trust, the emotional connection leads to- more often than not- a friendship.
This is where things get difficult.
I spend countless hours with my clients. Buyers? It could take looking at 50 homes before they find “the one.” Afterwards, there are celebratory housewarming parties, invitations to their weddings, a lifetime of companionship. But the Sellers…
There are still countless hours. Staging and photographing a home could take 8 hours or more (I spent 7 on a 1,200 square foot condo last week), and then there is painstaking communication to ensure that every scheduled showing arrives to a clean, bright house, that open houses are well-outfitted with cupcakes and bottled water, wine and cheese. The house is the spectacle here, and that means that the Sellers are, by proxy, also under the microscope. I hold hands, reassure them when the one piece of negative feedback affects their whole day. I take my job very seriously- make the house as great as it can be so that the Sellers sell in the shortest amount of time possible.
Then, when I succeed, we get a great offer and move forward. We talk almost every day about when the inspections are scheduled, coordinate any repairs, make sure that the appraisal happens when it should. I help them track down moving boxes, find the best folks to haul all of their furniture all of the way across the country. I sometimes see or talk to my clients every day, and they become a huge part of my life.
One day, I wake up and realize that it’s moving day. I panic. I wake up Bryan (because, at this point, he, too, may have a friendship with these folks), and we hit the bakery to find a massive assortment of donuts to fuel my clients for their cross-country road trip to their new home. I sometimes realize that after walking out their door, it could be months- years- before I see them again.
Each time a client moves away from our area, I lose a little part of my heart. Sometimes, it’s harder than others, and sometimes, I feel as if I did my job too well- perhaps I should have tried to keep them around longer, leave the house on the market an extra 6 weeks. Sometimes, I drop off their road-trip Danish, step outside and cry and cry… Sometimes it feels as if I’m losing my best friends. Sometimes, I am. While I couldn’t be any more thankful for having a career I so desperately love, there are times I wish I loved my clients a little less. However, emotions don’t work like that. We like who we like, and fall in love with our friendships over the course of these transactions. It’s a job hazard- one that can’t be helped.
So, California is waiting for my latest cross-country clients. I’ve never been to LA, and find myself wanting to plan a trip very soon. Maybe I’ll get to tag along while they house hunt, West Coast style. Maybe they’ll have a guest room.
I’ll you soon, V & J. It’s been an honor to have represented you. Thanks for the friendship.