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Adventures in Real Estate Part III: The Accidental Acrobat

As you may have inferred from Part I & Part II of this little series, real estate agents are a tough, determined breed not easily deterred from achieving their goals. And we’re not shy about getting others into the act if necessary. For instance…

About six years ago, I was preparing for a Sunday open house at a very cool home in suburban San Francisco. Like all fabulous agents I had put out the A-frame signs on every corner surrounding the listing and added another on the pathway to the front door. I parked my car on the street a few houses away, unlocked the door, turned on all the lights, and laid out my brochures with small water bottles for potential buyers.

With 15 minutes to spare before the published start time, I looked out the window and decided it would be a good idea to put my car in the garage. Doing so would not only free up another space for those that wanted to view the property (we were expecting good traffic), but also show prospective buyers how easy it would be to park an SUV in the garage.

I put my keys in my pants pocket, put my cell phone in my jacket pocket and started down the inside staircase to the lower level garage. As I reached the landing, I made a left turn to take the last two steps and caught the heel of my shoe on a nail that was sticking up ever so slightly. I lost my balance, twisted out of my shoe and fell much like a tree would from its base.

In the midst of this acrobatic feat – which suddenly seemed to be happening in slow motion – I could hear what I was sure was the snap of a bone. I just wasn’t sure which one.

Sprawled on the cement floor, I took a quick assessment of all my body parts and couldn’t help noticing my left ankle and foot. Not a pretty picture. Aside from missing a shoe, my foot appeared to be loosely flopping to the side at the ankle.

The only good part was that I was without pain, allowing me to think clearly and realize that I was sitting on the floor of the garage of a house that would soon be open to the public.

Being a huge fan of reality adventure shows, I remembered lessons learned, butt-crawled over to a wooden beam and attempted to use it to lift myself upright. That wasn’t going to happen. I couldn’t put any weight on my left leg to help me stand.

So, I took off my remaining shoe and made three attempts to throw it at the interior garage door opener button that was out of reach on that same wooden beam. The third time was the charm and I felt a sense of accomplishment as the garage door began to open.

I fished my phone out of my jacket pocket, called my husband for help and will never forget his initial response. I told him I had taken a serious fall and asked him to come as soon as possible, to which he replied (very seriously), “Lee Ann, is that you?” He told me later I must have been in shock, since he couldn’t even recognize my voice. He assured me he would be there as soon as possible, but was at least 20 minutes away.

So, once again, I called my business partner, Bethany Patten, who was touring properties with a couple in Marin County. She said she would be there as soon as she could maneuver traffic over the Golden Gate Bridge and through the City – but who knew how long that would be?

By that time it was show time. Lots of people are arriving and deciding to come in through the garage since it is open and there’s a woman sitting in there. The first young couple looked at me on the garage floor and asked me if I needed help. I, of course, said “No, I’m just fine,” told them it’s probably just a sprained ankle and that my family was on their way. I did, however, ask the young woman if she could go upstairs, get the flyers and also open the front door.

About 30 people wound up coming in through the garage and not one of them asked me why I was on the floor. They just asked for a flyer and moved on to see this great home. I kid you not. (Have I mentioned low inventory in San Francisco and its suburbs have been a real challenge for a very long time?)

What I didn’t know was that my husband had called my son, Josh, and asked him to help with this situation. He was the closest to the home and arrived first with his 8 year-old holding a wrapped gift in hand. They were on their way to his friend’s birthday party when they got the call and came straight away. I split the remaining flyers into two sets, gave one to my son, the other to my grandson and told them to meet potential buyers until Bethany arrived.

Bethany arrived 30 minutes later to relieve my newly anointed agents, but the most ridiculous chapter of this tale occurred when she was finishing up the open house two hours later. A very eager buyer wanted to make an offer on the property but told her he would “only speak to the woman who was on the floor” when he arrived earlier.

Bethany explained that Lee Ann had left for an emergency meeting and she would be happy to help him, but he was not satisfied with her answer. Apparently my sitting on the floor translated into some sort of secret sign to this fellow.

If you’re a real estate agent, you know what’s coming next. I’m laying on a gurney, waiting to have an x-ray on my damaged ankle and my cell phone rings. It’s the same excited buyer and he needs to discuss making a pre-emptive offer way over asking. Now. What could I say? What would you do? I said, of course, I would be happy to help him and I we’d have the contract to him by the next day. After all, that’s the whole reason I was holding an open house in the first place.

Needless to say, my business partner did all the paperwork and made it happen.

My injury and the rehabilitation required both wound up being much more intense than I expected. But I assure it’s nothing compared to the tales of others. I have been on both sides of real estate deals that were handled by female agents who have gone into labor and male agents waiting to go into coronary procedures.

As I said before, we’re a tough breed that never forgets others are counting on us – and if you don’t close, you can’t pay those doctor’s bills.

Have your own real estate story? I’d love to hear it. (Especially if it’s really embarrassing). Please share it in the Comments section below.

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Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini

Lee Ann Monfredini is the founder of 360Women and a life-long advocate of women’s issues, political activism, social volunteerism, organizational accountability and personal responsibility. A graduate of the University of San Francisco with a degree in Non-Profit Management, she’s not only served on the boards and executive teams of some of the most respected health organizations in the Bay Area, but built a successful second career as one of the most respected realtors in the market. She can be reached at leeann@360women.net.

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