It's been a busy week for me, what with Jill on a well-earned vacation exploring the Pacific Northwest, Canada and Glacier National Park with her two girls in a cool Camper Van that's sure to show up on Instagram!
Which means that I'm manning the fort alone: meeting the inspectors, primping properties (as opposed to pimping properties), planting pots, watering beds, chasing down permit histories, editing marketing copy, picking up lighting, dropping off donuts, running to the hardware store (again and again and AGAIN!) and doing the 101 tasks I typically assign Jill on a weekly basis. (I miss her already and she only left town on Tuesday.)
In light of her absence, I've been reminded of the Herculean efforts it takes to bring a property to market in top form, while simultaneously nursing my bruised ego at having missed out on a potential new listing last week. As the Seller kindly explained, he was worried my practice might be "all heart." (Thank you, I'll take that under advisement and rework my listing presentation accordingly.)
But after mulling it over, I've come to the conclusion that if you're going to be passed over for another Agent (and it happens to the very best of us), being told you're "all heart" isn't necessarily the worst criticism I've ever had to face. Moreover, if the business of buying or selling a home doesn't start with the heart, I'm not sure what business does. After all, real estate isn't like purchasing a car; this is your home, this is where you raise your family, unwind after a hard day's work, and find sanctuary. In short, I'm inclined to believe that buying or selling a home should - begin and end - with the heart!
Years ago, when I was a struggling professional dancer in Los Angeles, showing up at cattle calls - along with hundreds of other hopefuls - I faced every rejection under the sun including: "too fat, too tall, too short, too all-American, too brunette (really?) . . ." and it got more personal from there. At least with real estate, I'm not being judged on my physical appearance (at least, I hope not), but it's clear, I AM auditioning nonetheless, and that's fair; Buyers and Sellers should give their Agents some thoughtful consideration, and Realtors, in turn, should be willing to compete for their business.
But having conceded that my online presence, my website, my marketing materials, and my blog were by far superior to anyone else they had interviewed, doesn't it follow that each of those representations are heavily steeped in "business," even if they're wrapped up in the "business of feelings?" Aren't the best advertisers appealing to our emotions, not our pocketbooks? Moreover, designing a listing strategy, creating a calendar, overseeing vendors, managing a budget, preparing a property for market, writing copy, manning open houses, and negotiating contracts are all business activities, no matter how heartfelt.
This last week's list of chores consisted of Jill and I putting the finishing touches on a beautiful garden we've created for a fabulous Brown Shingle in Piedmont, including both of us showing up with shovels and garden gloves in hand, physically toiling for hours as we planted ground cover, power washed the bricks, potted shrubs, and prepped this house for sale (It's a beauty!) while overseeing window washing and housecleaning in preparation for the staging. We hung lighting, made several trips to the nursery, replaced missing hardware, changed out light bulbs, and micromanaged every detail to get it "just right."
We hit up the flea market early Sunday morning to find an industrial Island for another fantastic listing (an Urban Paradise off Lakeshore), met with its anxious Seller (they're all anxious), organized disclosures, took over fresh flowers from my garden, and swept and vacuumed the house prior to photos.
And that represents a very typical work week for us. No, it's not every Realtor that keeps a broom and dustpan at the house (and is willing to use it), nor bakes home-made cookies before every open, nor sweats over the smallest of details, nor meticulously manages every aspect of your listing, but that IS my (our) process - for better or for worse. That's not heart; it's dedication, it's integrity, its pride, its MAJOR work (!), and finally, it's the business of selling real estate. If the "heart" comes into play, so much the better. (I'm not sure how that's a negative.)
Hardworking? Yes. Creative? Yes. Dutiful? Yes. Responsible? Yes. Accountable? Yes. Dedicated? Yes. Controlling? DEFINITELY! (I'm working on that one.)
"All Heart?" I wish it were that easy.
But thanks for the compliment just the same and for your sage advise going forward (it's not every potential Seller who'll thoughtfully explain the reasons why . . . ). In fact, I'm going to tell my 93-year-old mother-in-law you said so. I'm certain she feels I could use FAR MORE HEART when it comes to her, and it's true - I could (along with more empathy, more patience, more understanding, and more love.)
So I'm going to keep working on that "heart" thing - for both of us - and for all of you as well. Because if I'm not leading with my heart, what the heck am I doing helping you pursue your dreams?
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.