Standing in line at my favorite local doughnut store in Montclair Village (I can always pass up the tiramasu, but never a fresh-baked doughnut!) waiting to order a maple old-fashioned, I couldn't help but think about "Mr. Selective" - a special client of mine who had spent a year and a half diligently searching for a home before he successfully landed in contract on a wonderful property that met all of his criteria and then some.
As often happens during the inspection process, the realities of home ownership became heightened - and so did Mr. S's anxiety - instead of focusing on the doughnut, he began to focus on the doughnut hole! His initial excitement about the property evolved into concern and Mr. S. began to think of his lovely new home as a potential problem . . .
Understanding a first-time Buyer's process (his feelings are not atypical) but having gained perspective from the numerous home inspections I have witnessed over the years, I said, "Let's turn this around and remember that the purchase of this home isn't a "problem" - it's a solution!"
Relief spread across his face and he laughed. "You are right," he said, "this is a solution and I do love the house! " (Light bulb moment!)
How did I get so wise? I didn't. Luckily, I crossed paths on one of my very first listings with "Mr. Trustee" who was much wiser than me . . .
Building on an entire career of more than 50 years of experience, he brought a calming civility to a transaction that could easily have become complicated. In what proved to be a very challenging and protracted negotiation, Mr. T remained unfazed, regardless of the hurdle, returning again and again to his mantra: "There are no problems, there are only solutions."
Zen? You bet! But what an epiphany: one can choose to find the solution, instead of focusing on the problem!
As a real estate professional, I try to remember this example whenever I feel challenged. Even when the solution isn't easy, there is always a solution - as long as the problem has been well defined.
Identifying the objections, examining the options and helping the client determine a solution, is part of a good agent's repertoire.
Now let's all have a doughnut - I'm buying!
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 500 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.