Almost to the day, it was 21 ½ year ago when I made the decision to “go into real estate.” I was a relatively recent college graduate (go SOU!) and though I had great grades, was proficient in a foreign language, and relatively well-rounded in general, I had a heck of a time finding a job. I took a position as an insurance claims adjuster about a year earlier and at the time, I was so thankful someone took a chance on me. Little did I know just how grueling that job would be, and the meager salary relative to the commitment of time just wasn’t my jam. I had a crazy idea that I should consider something a bit more performance-based and here I am.
My dad thought I was crazy, though he may never admit it. While I was studying for my real estate license, I had also applied for a position in pharmaceutical sales. Mind you, I had zero sales experience, unless you count my high school and college years of peddling footwear in the shoe department of Fred Meyer. In short time, I passed my real estate licensing exam (with a 98% but who’s keeping track?) and I interviewed with a couple of local agencies and settled on Century 21 in Ashland. For those of you who didn’t even know we had a Century 21 in Ashland that just goes to show how old I am.
The morning of my first office meeting (and man, was I excited), my phone rang (landline, of course) and guess what, Pfizer was offering me a job. The salary was more than my dad was making, even after 40 years at the same company, it also included a sweet company car and a relatively close territory. You’d think I would have jumped at the incredible opportunity, but instead I found the words falling out of my mouth…. “Oh, thank you so much for calling but I am so sorry. I just accepted a job yesterday and I am going to sell real estate!” The voice on the other line shockingly clarified, “Really? Accepted a job as in you have a guaranteed salary, company car, and bonuses or is it 100% commission?” “It’s 100% commission, isn’t that great?! If you had called me yesterday, I might feel differently but I gave them my word, my first office meeting starts soon and well, thanks so much for the call and good luck.” I should mention that he started the conversation by telling me that they were really desperate to find someone and even though I had zero sales experience I had followed up so many times (hey, I really needed this job) they just thought they’d take a chance on me. I ended the conversation with this befuddled man by saying, “Well, I am so sorry, but my dad told me you’re only as good as your word and I told Century 21 I was working for them.”
For the next several years it was a grind and while my primary drive may have been my refusal to fail, I would like to believe it was so much more than that. I not only loved helping people, I also had nothing else to do with my time so why not work? I couldn’t begin to count how many homes I sold, how many millions of dollars in production were credited to my name along the way, but I do remember all the faces, all the experiences, and sometimes even the properties. I remember getting hung up on a barbed wire fence while showing property and ripping out the crotch of my pants in the process. Those country folks went on to buy and sell so many properties with their “city girl Realtor” and we laughed about that damn fence every time. I remember changing a poopy diaper explosion because my clients were upstairs with their parents dreaming together about how they could be buying their first home. Mama was mortified to find me covered in crap making do with the one baby wipe I could find. I will never forget bursting into tears when someone mentioned they worked with my late father-in-law and how much they admired and respected him. I silently prayed this man wouldn’t try and console me with a hug because I would have undoubtedly broken open and I am confident the ugly cry he would have witnessed would have sent him for the hills. We both stood there speechless while I tried to sop up my snot from behind my mask all while pretending to not be sobbing. It wasn’t awesome but it was real.
We recently sold a home for some dear clients who first called me when I was pregnant with my now 12-year-old son. It was tough for me to tell them I wasn’t available that day because I had always prided myself on being service-oriented and everyone feeling as though they were my only client. When I finally told them we had a group of friends and family helping us move that day and I was assigned the position of director (you know, first child… husband was pretty sure I should just spend the 40 weeks in bubble wrap) and if I bailed on everyone it would be so rude they were so kind and gracious and we worked around it. Little did I know it would eventually take them 2.5 years to find a place but hey, We.Will.Find.It and before anyone else, by golly and we absolutely did.
All these memories and countless others but the point is to say that over the years, it has been such an immense pleasure to be part of so many stories. Over the last few years, it feels more apparent than before, but we have been caught off guard by some past clients choosing to buy or sell with someone else. I honestly can’t think of one instance where it had anything to do with something we had done or not done and more often because they had some sort of family or friend connection and wanted to support that. Occasionally we were told they were so impressed with the other broker’s sales history, marketing, or even price they quoted and though we don’t like it, we bow out gracefully knowing we have done what we can to demonstrate our service, commitment, and track record, but we can’t win them all.
Even after all these years it still stings when we get that call (or worse, when we don’t and just see it hit the MLS) and it is not because we are grieving the loss of the sale. When we create a relationship with clients, we do so with an open heart and willingness to invest in them as well as our relationship. The countless hours we dedicate when it has nothing to do with the transaction is because we are a team. We appreciate being called upon for estate planning and take our roles very seriously as trusted advisors in this area of people’s lives. I could write a book, not just an overly long column, on the memories; joys and heartbreaks, trials and triumphs. We remain committed to our true calling of being loving and kind. We take great pride in being highly regarded for our knowledge in the industry, for being trusted advisors and for having your back even if it means there are some hills and valleys to pass through along the way.
We appreciate so much the thousands of opportunities we have had over the last two decades to help people in various capacities related to real estate and take it very seriously the trust you have in us. For those of you who have moved on to someone else, we bless you, too. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate the support, the unsolicited messages acknowledging our work or the messages in our column and the referral businesses year after year. And, for those of you who weren’t transparent, who just wanted to glean our expertise on something but never intended to honor the investment we made in you – we see that too. We don’t like it, but we don’t hold onto it. Life is too short. We just told someone yesterday we have a “no turd” policy. If you are a turd, please don’t call us. We can normally sniff you out (no pun intended) but occasionally our turd meter is in the shop and we find ourselves in a pickle. We are clear that we can’t win them all but do know if you have ever had crossed our paths, we are genuine in our investment of time, energy, resources and while we can’t make you work with us, we sure hope the person you choose will take good care of you.