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Adventures in Real Estate Part V: The Secret Life of Clients

Real estate agents like myself have all sorts of stories to tell – and I’ve already shared several in this blog.  Some are amusing.  Others are downright frightening.  The nature of our business often draws out the most personal feelings and aspirations of our clients; the fear of purchasing something new; the sadness of selling something old.

These aren’t always easy stories to tell because not all of them have a happy ending.  But once in a while we witness a little miracle or work a little magic by doing something that only happens on HGTV: Finding the perfect fit for the perfect clients.

I always remember such clients with a smile and sense of satisfaction. After working in real estate for more than fifteen years, these are the stories that help me appreciate this crazy business and fortify me when I’m questioning my own sanity.

Several years ago, I represented a wonderful multi-generational family looking to purchase a new home and began our first appointment by asking for their “wish list.”  How many bedrooms and baths did they need? Did they need a backyard? Was a large kitchen or formal dining room important? In what area of San Francisco would they like to live?

The members of this family were perfect buyers and answered every question with ease – since they had discussed a definite plan before even calling me. My final question was the same as always: “Is there anything else we haven’t discussed? Something that would make or break a deal?”

The father responded immediately: “Yes. We have a grand piano in storage and I want a living room large enough for that piano.”

If you know anything about the average size of grand pianos and the average square footage of San Francisco real estate, you know the two rarely fit together well.  But I agreed to show them only homes that would have family rooms or living rooms large enough for their piano – and went right to work.

Another thing that only happens on HGTV: Buyers seeing just three homes before making their decision. The reality is that most buyers tour for at least three months and view a minimum of 15 homes.  In San Francisco, it’s not uncommon for buyers to spend 4-6 months on their property search due to a lack of supply and high demand for single-family homes.

Weeks passed and I began to wonder if we’d ever find a suitable property. I also wondered if a large living room was really necessary. After all, that piano had been in storage for years. How important could it be?

But finally, after four months of relentless searching, the perfect home was identified. It had everything on their list – including a large living room – with the unexpected bonus of a fireplace. The whole family was delighted and could hardly wait to make an offer, but the father of the family seemed particularly pleased.  It wasn’t until after they had actually moved in that I learned the real reason why.

Several days after closing, I stopped their new place to deliver flowers and a basket of goodies from a local bakery. It was a beautiful, warm day and I noticed a few of their windows were open – then suddenly stopped in my tracks.  Flowing from the windows of that large living room was some of the most incredible music I had ever heard. The patriarch of the family was playing his coveted piano and this was no casual picking at the keys.  This was perfectly interpreted classical music played by a trained pianist.

I stood silently on their stairs as time seemed to stand still and simply listened. Throughout all our time searching for properties together, he had never mentioned his masterful skills.  This was clearly a very personal pleasure for him and something he shared only with close friends and family.

And although it may have sometimes seemed like an insignificant factor or nearly insurmountable challenge to me, to him it was the only thing that would make a new house a real home.  I had not just provided a place for this family to live; I had been part of granting a wish.

Whether you’re a real estate agent or receptionist or something else, you have “customers” and you never really know what’s in their hearts.  You never know everything they’re dealing with, what they really care about or what will make them truly happy.  So, sometimes the secret is to simply grant whatever wishes we can and, in doing so, create a little “accidental magic.”

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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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