When Patie Millen and her team helped me sell our farm last year, I told her I would write a testimonial for the exceptional job she and her team had done. Today I will share that testimonial with you. My hope in sharing the testimonial is to highlight the complexity of roles and jobs a Realtor must undertake to help their clients achieve end goals. In sharing this testimonial my intent is not to push Patie and her team over any other Realtor, but to take you behind the scenes of a truly unique experience.
Whomever you choose needs to be up for the challenge and I mean any challenge. You need to trust them fully and you need to listen and take action. If you don’t you might as well try selling your house yourself. Also when the going gets tough you need to know they have your back.
With that said, Patie and Rob and the entire team went so far above and beyond to help me sell our beautiful 5-acre farm last year. It was our dream property but our lives are changing and It was time to pass it on. I flew into Medford early February 1st. It was snowing and I would have 30 days to prepare our property for sale. It would be an enormous project to undertake. From the moment of arrival, I hit the ground running meeting with Patie and Rob the very next morning.
We immediately began assembling a long list of names and numbers of individuals who could assist me over the next month in preparing our property for sale. After being our beloved home, as life changed, our home became a rental and was in need of much updating. Painting the house, remodeling the kitchen, bathroom remodel, gate and fence repair, new pathways, property clean up, deck repair, irrigation and more, It was a massive undertaking and it would not be possible without everything going smoothly. Fortunately for me, I am very good at these types of projects and I was helped by some truly remarkable individuals.
From the very initial stages of consultation to the remodeling and design, Patie was on it paying multiple visits to the property and answering my millions of questions. I needed guidance on pricing, materials, and the essential requirements for presenting the property in a desirable light. Why put money into a project you will never get back? Every detail counted down to the perfect timing of the photography and house staging. It was an amazing accomplishment to have pulled off, and if you think that working 60 hour weeks while running a business and publishing the LocalsGuide was hard, I will tell you this was the easy part.
We listed the house on March 1st and the timing was perfect. Rural properties have longer market times so we wanted to be out in front. The market had not quite started. We had a few nibbles but nothing serious. We were also mindful that we could encounter smoke in the summer. In May an enormous inventory of homes came onto the market in Ashland and the surrounding areas, with listings up 100% from what they had been the previous year, and this was putting pressure on pricing. It was imperative to move fast to make the sale. This required quick thinking and planning which included adjusting the price. Getting the engagement we wanted within the next thirty days was key. We still had no idea if there would be fires and if there were, it might totally close out all opportunities for the sale of this rural property.
Mid-June, I had flown with the family to Europe and we were staying in a 200-year-old remote farmhouse in southern Spain when I got the text message. It was coming from Ricardo, one of Patie’s team members who had been maintaining the grounds. He was doing the final lawn mowing when he discovered a broken back window on the house. On a gated 5 acre property… this was not good. “Pájaro Kaka” was all he wrote. That translates to Bird Poop. What the hell? I was very confused and concerned. We had a serious buyer, it was Monday and the house was slated to close on Friday.
I called Patie… she answered the phone. I have no idea what time it was… but it must have been about 1am our time so it was midday in Oregon. Patie was immediately on it driving out to the farm. Once there she cautiously opened the front door to be met with large droppings and feathers everywhere. Across the living room, into the kitchen, the hall and main level bedrooms as well as the stairway. Patie summoned her team member Allie Dickson for support. Armed with a broom and not knowing what they would encounter Allie bravely ascended the stairs and called out “It’s a turkey and it is enormous!” The bird stood head and shoulders above the king-sized bed in the upper bedroom. Now I cannot repeat in print what she said to me on the phone but it was quite a scene. Apparently a huge wild turkey fell in love with his handsome reflection in the immaculately cleaned windows. He then must have tried to mate with himself and ended up breaking right through the window. How in the world it is possible, I am not sure. Double-paned storm windows are not easy to break. He broke through the window with such force that glass was blasted across the bedroom, across the hall and throughout the bedroom on the opposite side of the hallway. Glass, feathers, and large droppings were everywhere.
We don’t know how long the turkey was in residence at our amazingly & impeccably staged house but it was at least several days. Allie asked Patie “Should I try and get it to leave?” Patie said “Heck no! The bird is terrified, call the critter guy!” We assumed the pro would fully remove the bird, they did not. It was found expired on the grounds the next day. OMG. Patie’s husband Rob had to go back out to the property to remove the poor bird. That was the icing on the cake. I was on the other side of the world, getting reports and then new unexpected requests from the buyers came in. Patie talked me down. She kept me focused on the end goal, “It is in your best interest to close this escrow” and despite all the turbulence, the deal closed.
Hopefully, you won’t have an experience like I did… but if you do just know Patie and the team have you fully covered. And now for the interview.
Hi Patie, and welcome back to LocalsGuide! Outside of wild turkeys and who knows what else, how are things looking this year for you and the team?
Thanks Shields. We are doing really well. We had a great year in 2019. Our team is again one of the top in the county and the state and I feel we are in the best place we have ever been. Sales were very strong, we closed about 80 properties for our clients, and our team has a good life balance even with the high sales volume and fast-paced nature of our business. This allows us to work at our very best and enjoy our families and our lives.
You know, most testimonials are all fluff… and it’s those hard moments when you are in the trenches that count. Let’s talk more about this.
So true! Any Realtor that does a significant volume of business has war stories. Some are hilarious, some heart wrenching and some shocking. After many years of being directly involved in many of the memorable life situations of our clients we learn important life lessons ourselves. How to be present in the midst of chaos. How to separate the petty from what is important. We learn how to be quick problem solvers by seeing the full array of options. Our experience allows us to have reliable discernment. I see our job as allowing the client to drop things into our laps with full confidence that their goals will be successfully realized. I have over 26 years of experience and know what to do in all kinds of situations. Every transaction is different, we learn new things on each sale we conclude. It is because of our understanding of complex situations, our deep market knowledge, our capability to know the best solutions and our unwavering dependability to always take the right action that draws our clients to us and keeps them loyal.
I received a nice compliment the other day. A popular local builder called me as we were coordinating on an upcoming listing. We have never really talked much in the past but they reminded me that they had called me twice before. They said both times it was to ask for guidance on a difficult situation. They referred to me as a problem solver and said they had been grateful for my solutions. That made me feel really good because it is something I do excel at and finding solutions gives me deep satisfaction. Nice to know I was helpful.
The turkey situation was sad for the turkey but had some very comical moments. What other types of unusual situations do you encounter in your day-to-day work?
I have had a lot of weird things happen, like showing property in the country where I had scheduled the showing, we arrived and there was a car in the driveway so we knocked and rang the doorbell and received no answer so I entered with our clients. The buyers were looking at the living room when out of the corner of my eye I saw movement and turned to see a shotgun pointed at me and slowly coming around the doorjamb. I screamed “Don’t shoot! I’m a Realtor!” An old woman came around the corner with a scowl on her face and aiming her shotgun menacingly and claimed I had not made an appointment. I said “Is your name Clara?” It was. She looked surprised. I reminded her I talked to her the day before, gave her snippets of our conversation to refresh her memory and she settled down. Geesh! The buyers did not buy that property nor did I ever show it again! Good lesson on how not to sell your home.
I have had buyers fall into a swimming pool when he bent down to inspect something, lost his balance and grabbed onto his wife to save himself and they both went in. Several times I have warned couples if they did not stop arguing I would have to separate them or take them back to the office, and I have fought off Cujo with a broom as I raced for my car to avoid having my limbs ripped off. I have been rescued by the police when a funky driveway gave way and my car started to slide off a hill with terrified buyers in the back. Thanks Officer Flynn! I have had renters open the door for a showing completely nude with nude bodies sleeping in the hallway.
I was once showing a triple-story home located in a remote location to a very good client of mine, Wendy. We had stepped out onto a very small third-floor balcony to take in the view. Immediately the wind slammed the door shut and the handle was locked. No cell service. We could hear some piece of farm machinery buzzing far off in the distance and we hollered our lungs out with calls for help. Nothing. We stared at each other and looked up and there was a small octagonal window far above us. I looked at Wendy and said “Well, you are the dancer, get on my shoulders.” She did and I was so grateful she was so limber. She had her leg up against and parallel to the siding like a contortionist. I watched with my mouth agape as she shimmied up the side of that home and into that little space. We were howling with laughter which made her ascent even more remarkable. Thanks Wendy!
Getting the staged furniture out of the house after closing, mowing grass, removing trash, fixing things and fixing them again. Talk more about the hidden day-to-day details that you guys stay on top of.
We are full service in our recommendations. We do not pay for the repairs and upkeep of a client’s home, but we do coordinate everything. We have some of the best vendors in the area. They are the same people we use for our personal home. Laurel Walters at Twist is excellent for a design consult to get your home ready and show its best. She will suggest removing certain things, moving things around and she can transform a space quickly and beautifully. We have amazing crews for yard maintenance, professional home cleaning, carpet cleaning, painting, windows, repairs and everything in between. All are excellent and fair in their pricing. We have crews that will remove all of the junk from a property and haul it away.
Whatever your need to make your property shine for presentation to the market, we can consult and coordinate.
Ashland still remains an extremely desirable place to live.
Ashland is always a top choice for many people. We receive so many calls weekly from California, Portland, Seattle, Sacramento, Idaho, Colorado, Hawaii, and many other states. People want a less populated environment. They want less cars and less people and all that goes along with high population levels. California has 40 million people and Oregon has 4 million and most of those people are up north. They want out of the traffic jams. Since 1990 to today, Ashland has grown 28%, about 10% every 10 years or 1% a year. We have grown from about 16,600 people in 1990 to a little over 21,000 today. Our Rogue Valley offers such a wonderful pace of life. Beautiful outdoor recreational areas make it such a gem. The weather is great, what’s not to love?
It has been on many people’s radar for many years and they are now retiring and able to pursue their dream. Many young families love it for the school system and the wholesomeness of the Rogue Valley in general.
As many encountered the fires in Paradise, Santa Rosa, Redding and many other areas in California, they are leaving their communities and making Oregon their home. They have been through a lot and most of them left with nothing. It is humbling to help them with this new unexpected and difficult chapter in their lives.
Patie, you and Rob are an amazing team and you also are surrounded and supported by an amazing team. Please talk more about this.
Gladly! So proud of our team. They are the best. Rob and I are so grateful that this skilled, kind, effective team gives so much to create wonderful results for all. Their support has allowed our lives to be in the best place ever.
Martin Huggins is a broker and our administrator. He manages so much for us in keeping things humming and the clients give Martin rave reviews. Great business mind, excellent manager and absolutely hilarious. The other day I said that between Rob and Martin I get to laugh one-third of my day. He has great discipline and gives the kindest most generous customer service I have seen. He is wonderful at researching, showing and selling property.
Susan St. Martin has been a broker in our area for 12 years, brings great experience and is skilled in new construction and interior design as well as resale properties. Her skills allow us to bring a concierge service to clients as they prepare their homes for sale. She is highly organized, technologically-savvy and a great asset in refining our expansive digital exposure and systems.
Lori Wetzel has been involved in the real estate industry in many capacities for many years. She was the listing manager for John L Scott Medford for 10 years which requires a highly detailed skill level. Lori now manages our team’s listings and escrows, coordinates showings and assists with research. She is wonderful and a has a great sense of humor which is a big asset in her role.
Kathy Nable assists us with scheduling and other administrative duties. Kathy has great client relation skills and was in customer service with United Airlines and Verizon. She is detailed and a true professional.
Patie, how do you decide to take on the clients you work with?
That is an important question. As team leader I consider my most important role to be Energy Manager. It is as important as any other role. The energy has to be kept clean and moving. It has to be uplifting, not in a false cheeriness, but in a very real elevated way…at our best.
99% of our clients are truly wonderful. I have worked with so many of them repeatedly over the years and they refer their friends and family, who tend to be equally wonderful people. I just sold a home to a third-generation client. Thank you Rick, Ina, Stacy & Marie!
Sometimes I can be into a new situation before I realize that things are not quite right. But when I have that realization, I am quick to stop and ask why and remedy it quickly. Sometimes clients will inadvertently give you information that maybe they have some sort of emotional pattern that is going to make things very difficult down the line. I feel it is best to not ignore that, pay attention and then make decisions about if that is going to be a good fit. Don’t get me wrong, I am not afraid of problems and I am very good at solving them. But I have also found that if I let difficult or unreasonable people enter our business, the Universe seems to see that as a go ahead to send more. I pay attention to that. If I nip it in the bud, things stay right.
What is the secret to maintaining grace and ease in your business and keeping it fun?
I think numero uno is to make sure the team leader as well as each team member have a good life balance. Everyone knows this but it can be difficult to maintain if it is not a priority. We have put many things in place, this past year especially, to enhance our systems and team structure to ensure that our clients are fully cared for and that each team member has back up support. We have our systems set up so that each of us has strong support and time off that we all need to thrive in all areas of our lives.
We all work hard and if we do not have time to enjoy the people we love and time to do the things that keep us healthy and happy, why are we working? Without that, things become drudgery and we don’t want to live our lives that way. We all love what we do and we give it our all. Life is good, it is up to us to keep it that way.
Negotiations can be difficult knowing where to flex and bend. What are some of your key tenets for knowing when a deal is reasonable vs. unreasonable?
Well, since day one 26 years ago I was committed to creating win-win situations for both parties in a transaction. Often people get hung up on some gnat of a problem and they hold onto that for dear life. I do my best to keep them away from that, it is silly. I keep them focused on selling if they are a seller and moving on with their lives or if they are a buyer, making things work to be the new homeowner. If you are buying a $400,000 or a $1,000,000 home, it is silly to get hung up and adversarial over some minute thing like an old hot tub or a dirty gutter. Everything is not going to happen exactly as you like, but I would say 95% of the time we get things pretty close. Don’t let a screen door ruin your joy. Be open to sweet solutions instead of being right.
I believe one of my strongest positive traits is to tell clients the truth. I never shy away from that and I feel I am a natural diplomat. I have been told that by many including mediators and judges. It is cowardly to tell people what they want to hear instead of the truth. The truth can always be delivered with kindness. Our clients rely on our information to make intelligent decisions. They cannot do that unless they have the truth. Sometimes they will frown or scowl as I deliver the goods but I often receive postcards from around the country thanking me for helping them to see the light so they could get on with life.
(From Rob) You are welcome, Shields. We were happy to help out with that unusual situation. I took the turkey to a secret place in coyote land.
What’s the next step for either buyers or sellers interested in working with you this year?
We work throughout the Rogue Valley and represent buyers and sellers in every price category. We represent small homes and large estates, commercial offerings and farms and ranches. We are good at what we do and we will make the process as easy as possible for you.
Reach out to us by text, email or phone for an informal chat or a more serious meeting and evaluation. My cell is 541-301-3435 and we are always available and if we are not you will receive a quick response. One of my best clients told me that I should run an ad that states “I Answer My Phone.” I guess that isn’t true of everyone, LOL.
Ok, I’m wishing you all the best for this year and may you only see a turkey in your house on thanksgiving!
Haha, we wish the same for you!