A couple I know and love bought their first home today, and I had the privilege of serving as their real estate broker.
Escrow was set to close tomorrow, so when I picked up the voicemail from the title company this afternoon, I worried it might be a last minute delay. Instead, a chirpy voice told me the transaction was recorded and complete.
And what did I do, upon receiving the news? I cried.
Maybe it’s a new broker thing.
This is only my second transaction. I was the buyer the first time around, and when I picked up the keys to our new house, a dilapidated waterfront home, that was now my husband’s and mine to transform, an entire flock of North American pelicans floated offshore, glimmering white as they fished.
I cried then, too.
For most of us, buying a house is a big deal. It’s HUGE. And huge things deserve big emotion, right?
Even more so when the first home you buy is your retirement home—the case for my buyers. I am so thrilled for them to have a home of their own, and grateful to have assisted in this dream come true, that I’m spilling over.
And yes, in real estate, our clients are “my buyers” and “my sellers” not “the buyers” and “the sellers.” It’s not out of a proprietary claim (back off other brokers, these are my people), or maternal instinct, (where would the buyers be without my protection?), but out of relationship. There’s a bond that forms with those who companion us through important moments in our lives, whether or not the relationship continues beyond that event.
Granted, I’ve known these buyers long before I was their broker. I’ve known them for 35 years, and for those 35 years they’ve been renting the same house—a place they’ve made their own, as much as you can when you rent. They always hoped to buy the house someday (that’s how my parents bought the house I grew up in). But when their landlord died recently and the house sold to someone else before my loved ones could even present an offer, the possibility vanished.
That’s when they took the leap and decided to look for a house 800 miles from the city they’ve made a life in all these years. And the house they bought—they’ve yet to set foot in it! “They must really trust you,” the listing broker said when I explained that my buyers were relying on our FaceTime tour and videos I shot on my phone.
Yes, these loved ones trust me, but they trust themselves—they listened to the intuition they had about this particular house, a house that called to them out of scores of other listings. It was my job to help them gather information about the property and the neighborhood though inspection and title reports and County records so they could add “the facts” into their discernment process.
Then, when they decided to make an offer, it was my job to navigate the paperwork and timelines on their behalf.
“It’s your decision,” is a mantra I’ve come to know well from Jennie Wetter, the broker who has represented Kevin and me in 8 transactions (and is now the broker I work for). Twice we were the sellers. Twice we were successful buyers. Twice we were outbid. Twice we walked away when legal issues with the sellers (one a short sale, one a bank) weren’t resolved after months under contract.
In every instance we felt 100% listened to and advocated for by Jennie. Her ethic of dedication and professionalism, no matter the outcome, is something I took to heart.
I came to real estate circuitously, and as one of several occupations I juggle—writer and home renovator being the other two. Once I was licensed I began to realize that I had a wealth of personal experience as both a homebuyer and seller that could benefit clients—clients, who for nearly a year were theoretical.
And then something shifted in September. Soon after I began scouting properties for my out-of-state loved ones, I was contacted by one, two, three, and now four, friends and relatives; all of them exploring home ownership in this region, most of them are first time buyers.
When I pastored a church and when I lead writing workshops my intention was and is to create an environment for the spirit to enter and for creativity to flourish. It was never about me, or about satisfying my ego. I strive to respond to what I perceive as the needs of those in attendance.
In leading worship and writing workshops my job is to “hold space” for others, to take care of all the details (lighting, temperature, handouts, instructions, etc.), to follow the energy and go “off script” when necessary, so that participants are freed to dip below the surface of everyday responsibilities and demands, to become still and listen to that “still small voice” and tend to deep work of the soul.
My role as a real estate broker is much the same: to attend to the details so that my future buyers (and sellers) feel safe and supported to do the important work of envisioning a life for themselves in a particular home (or letting go of one that’s sheltered them).
It’s humbling to be asked to serve as a guide, a privilege to accept this responsibility.
Lives are changed, and not only do I get to witness the process, I get to facilitate it!
What sort of crazy awesome gift is that?
The sort that brings tears, quite literally, to my eyes.
That’s what I’d like to pen
a lively literate alliteration
of the current situation,
an artful arrangement of insults
carefully crafted curses
silky as Shakespearean sleeves and sharp
Barded barbs beaded between banter
laid like lane lines restriping our route
on the interstate to the unthinkable.
To protect my fellow citizens
I turn to traffic engineer tendering
flashing neon arrows and orange cones.
I litter the landscape with impact attenuators
and Do Not Enter spikes designed to puncture
all the hot air from the pompous windbag
hovering vulture-like over my country
delivering a daily deluge of blowhard barrage,
threatening to flatten us like road-kill
devour us like carrion.
All around the prophets intone
and we must atone, retreat, repent,
reverse our trajectory at warp speed
and flap furiously away from the furnace
like the proverbial bats out of hell.
Contrary to popular opinion,
ostriches do not bury their heads
in the sand, they dig instead
safe nests for their offspring.
And likewise, echolocation
does not simply serve to avoid obstacles
but penetrates our very bodies
with waves that vibrate the truth
not in our ears, but straight
through our jaws
We teeter on the liminal edge
of has been and yet to come
our ballast and balance
nothing more than a ballot
and a ballpoint pen
poised to close the chasm
the pen’s nib its spider thread
of thin black ink
becomes the tightrope
on which we will step
boldly, I hope, boldy I pray
into our future
I am a writer who, in December 2011, fortified by a new MFA, empty nest, and changes in my husband's employment, relocated from my native California to Washington state to see what would unfold next.