In a Seller’s Senior Shoes

There are many times in this business I am the fortunate one. 

One can learn a lot more from a client than any formative real estate class. Want to learn more about Alzheimer’s? Work with clients who must cope with their parents who live with 24/7 at home care, while dealing with an aging mom who is losing her ability to recognize her children. Wonder what it’s like to care for aging parents when living thousands of miles away? Or, how does one pay for the extraordinary cost of home health care? These questions are becoming too common in the realm of advocacy in selling real estate for seniors and their families.

First thing, first: selling doesn’t always need be an only option. Consider leasing your loved one’s home.

Second: resources exist. Whatever county you live in, google senior home health care, senior resources or senior services. Some counties offer more resources than others. If you’re not able to find help in the county you live in, look at nearby counties.

Here, I share a recent example of what it’s like to be in a seller’s shoes. 

Not all sellers are alike. Not all real estate agents are alike. Sometimes they connect, sometimes not. With Doug and Ellen and sister, Nancie, our professional bond focuses on one thing: their parents. Living with 24 hour care in their home, mom has Alzheimer’s. Dad’s around too. The adult kids needed to sell mom and dad’s rental homes in Orange to help offset the cost of 24 hour home health care. Three years ago, we sold one home. Just last month, the other. A privilege to be a part of their story.

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The stories continue. I am the fortunate one.

The Philosophy of an Uncommon Agent

Ah, real estate. Us agents are making the big bucks, right? What’s in selling a home anyway? Put a sign up, mail a few hundred postcards, fill the calendar with multiple open houses, get fellow brokers and agents to come view the home..easy, peasy. With all things virtual and mobile today, geez, notwithstanding good ‘ole MLS, there’s tons of websites and your listing is virtually alive until it’s sold. How difficult is all of this? I mean, what is the big deal of selling a house and why pay so much to sell it? Besides the obvious answer being, oh, there’s a lot of money and legalities of selling or buying a home, some issues have very little to do with either of those. It’s called human connection.

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Yep, people are human. It’s a strange concept, though this REALTOR usually prioritizes that issue and people come first. We do a lot for our sellers and sometimes our sellers aren’t quite aware of our service until their house gets sold and they’re on their way to their next place of residence. As frustrating as this biz can be, it becomes apparent we need to do more to educate our sellers, including yours truly.

I am not a high-volume agent. You can’t mass produce the intimate service I provide to each of my clients. I don’t work in a large brokerage. I work with a small, yet mighty team who support each other, though each transaction is my own.

I serve clients. I earn listings, one at a time. 95% of my business comes from referrals. My services are not for everyone, I know. Some people want the marketing and their price, bottom line and could care less about actual service. Yet for those who need a good dose of human connection with their agent while selling their home, I’m your girl.

There’s a place for high-volume philosophies. Some agents are out there hustling, working their various listings, consistently prospecting, jumping in full force. I do all of that too. Only my energy goes out to one person at a time: you. I much prefer taking on what I can chew well, without sacrificing my integrity or ability to be there for my clients when needed. My “prospecting” approach is reaching out to those who know me and continue building on relationships that are meaningful.  In terms of a client, most of my prospecting involves caring for them at that time and not concerned about my next listing. It’s full force – individually.

Money matters. I like making money. I like earning what I believe I’m worth. Like others, there are financial responsibilities to take care of. Money is a fascinating phenomenon. When it comes to real estate agents, we all have our own philosophies of our business and how we like to operate. One equates success as a top producing listing agent, while others enjoy the search representing buyers. I equate success as doing both. Clients have different needs; gotta do what’s best for them. That’s the beauty of building a business as a real estate agent. It’s taken years to discover I’m right on target with the kind of business I want, the kind of business where I can work for the best broker that aligns with my philosophy and make a difference in each clients’ life, one transaction at a time.

What’s most important in your relationship with a real estate professional? Why did you choose that person to work with? What traits did you like? I love hearing other experiences. Carry on.:)

Home is Where the Mom is

Today is Mother’s Day. The explosion of Hallmark Cards, brunches and flower arrangements. It’s also about home. For where else does one feel more at home than with their mom. 

That’s almost Hallmark worthy. Almost.

My mom passed away 3 years ago. She lived near the beach nearly as long as I can remember. “The old woman by the sea” she’d call herself. Married for years with my own beautiful daughters, each time I visited mom, as if no time had passed, I reverted back to my teen years, laying on her bed while she happily labored another crossword puzzle, we chatted about life, dozing off here and there, mom and daughter, sweet moments of time, the two of us, the simplicity of love. Mom would always feel like home, no matter where she was. Now gone, she lives within my heart, her new home.

With my own daughters, it’s taken on a life of its own. Too much to write and express at this time, only that where ever this mom is, they have a home; today, tomorrow, forever.

Happy Mother’s Day to moms across the land. May your kiddos always feel right at home. 

Senior Advocacy all the way, Baby

I am but one Realtor living in California. No fancy schmancy car, shiny website or major top producing agent, what I DO offer my clients are as such: care, compassion knowledge and an attentive ear. When I first began helping seniors, these characteristics seemed plausible enough: what Realtor DOESN’T care for their clients’ best interest? Yet this past summer, my compassion exceeded expectations far higher than ever experienced before.

The story goes like this:

  • Mid-March I receive an email from a woman inquiring about the possibility of selling her parents’ rental homes. *Mary lives out-of-state and was given my brochure touring a local assisted living residence while visiting her parents.
  • From March until June, Mary and I correspond via email only. The key to her story: mom and dad reside in their own home with 24/7 care, as mom’s Alzheimer’s was progressing. Mary and her brother, *Joe, make the decision to sell one of two rental homes in the same city so as to have enough funds to keep their parents in their own home as long as possible.
  • Tenant who resides in the rental house been living at property over fifteen years. Interested in purchasing the house.
  • Mid-June, three months after our first email, along with my brokers Bob and Kathy, Mary, Joe, Joe’s wife and I finally meet in person at a local coffee shop to discuss specific details on listing the rental house.
  • Upon initial visit, we all proceed to rental house where we meet with tenant. For the first time, tenant meets Mary and Joe in person. Prior to this, Mary and Joe’s parents had been the main contact for the tenant.
  • Tenant qualifies for loan and escrow opens shortly after Mary and Joe head back to their respective homes.
  • During escrow, I remain in contact with Joe, the primary trustee, who had transferred his parents’ trust in his name during our initial meeting.
  • Thirty-plus days later, escrow closes.

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I don’t work alone. All parties rallied together to make this transaction happen. Seller, buyer, Realtor, broker, escrow officers, title rep, et al. Seller, though dealing with the complexities of Alzheimer’s and parents far away, is now able to breathe a little more easily, knowing he can afford the care needed to keep them home until further notice. Buyer, once a former tenant living in the same house purchased, is now a bona fide homeowner. Together, they formed a partnership based on principle, similar goals and a willingness to put their trust in a local real estate chick. That real estate chick never once forgot who was most important in all of this: mom and dad. They are to be commended for the wonderful son and daughter they raised. They are what this is all about. To them, I salute you. Alzheimer’s diminishes the brain, though the love is only a heartbeat away. 

 

Cherish an Antique Day

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Still have that pocket watch Uncle John gave you on your seventh birthday?  Convinced that circus painting you bought at the flea market must be worth same as your Prius?

On Saturday April 12th, from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, Kirkwood in Orange will host “Cherish an Antique Day”!

Come and share your family antiques and discover the stories behind them. Bring up to two items and have a free appraisal from Mr. K’s Estate Sales.  Enjoy complimentary refreshments and musical entertainment too!

Where: Kirkwood Assisted Living  1525 E. Taft Avenue Orange CA 92865

When: Saturday April 12th, 2014

Time: 9:00 am to 12:00 pm 

To RSVP or more info: 714.262.4737