"Ew! What's that smell?" I asked my husband as I got out of bed, one morning last week.
"Buck wrestled with a skunk last night and lost," Cliff said. "I can't believe you slept through it - he went nuts. I let him out about 4 a.m. this morning and he got into it but good." (Did he ever - phew!) This wasn't the first time our dog, Buck, has lost a contest with a skunk, and it likely won't be the last. Our property is heavily wooded and all manner of critters share the space with us, from squirrels, to possums to seasonal wild turkey, to even an occasional deer - AND yes, unfortunately, skunks!
For the most part, the animals and I have reached an amicable understanding, which is to say that we keep a respectful distance from one another. ( I won't bother you , if you don't bother me.) As most of these cohabitants come out at night, it's an implied agreement that's fairly easy to honor.
Except when Buck gets out in the wee hours of the morning and accidentally comes across an unsuspecting furry friend (or enemy) - then the whole neighborhood gets an earful. (Sorry gang.)
At poorly-timed moments like this, I try to remind myself that it's not Buck's fault. Labs are bred to be hunting companions, so I can hardly blame him for following his finely-honed natural instincts. Still, irrespective of his love for the chase, Buck has yet to win a contest with a skunk (or even a squirrel for that matter).
"Quick, open the windows, " I instructed my husband, " No, close them, it's worse outside!"
Unfortunately, I had my own contest recently that involved a bit of "skunky behavior" by another Realtor from outside our area, who regretfully, represented a listing on which I represented the buyers. The further we got into the transaction, the clearer it became that everything wasn't exactly above board (phew!). This deal involved a "Short Sale" and as short sales go, it may have been fairly standard, except that it didn't smell quite right from the get go. (Shucks - time to catch a varmint!)
Thankfully, those kind of antics are atypical in my profession. For the most part, Realtors try to play it straight as our paths tend to cross over and over again. As such, it behooves us (as well as our clients) to deal honestly and fairly with one another. Especially as it's very likely that within a few short months, we will be facing one another again at the negotiating table - often in reversed roles!
So with the keen help of my Broker, the involvement of the Title Company manager, a flexible lender, and my incredibly adaptable Buyers, who artfully adjusted with each new wrinkle, we managed to clean up the transaction and close escrow late last week. (Nobody ever said short sales were going to be easy - or short - they're neither.)
Moreover, we did it while keeping everybody's integrity intact and with little fallout or drama. Now that's the art of the deal. . . . Suffice it to say that during challenging Real Estate transactions such as this one, I am reminded of just how important it is to have a clear understanding of the objectives we seek and why being represented by a licensed, ethical REALTOR is a very good idea indeed.
When one can't control the actions of the other players involved, it's incumbent upon us to make sure our side of the street remains clean, while striving to deliver the desired results. This wasn't a run-of-the-mill kind of encounter (more like a skunk in the night) and it required much more than the perfunctory duties we often perform as agents (it required fumigation, to put it bluntly).
With careful orchestration and the unyielding desire to "get it right," The GRUBB Co. was ultimately able to deliver a very successful outcome for our very patient buyers. In other words, we prevailed - in spite of the "skunk in the woods."
Regretfully, Buck's encounter ended much less successfully - with a vigorous tomato and peroxide bath and a trip to the showers (at least the water was warm). Unfortunately, my dog still smells like burned rubber - Yuck!
Does anybody have a cure for that?
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.