Four years ago, almost to the day, I left RE/MAX and started a new real estate chapter at Realty ONE Group. Me, Chas, and Team ORANGE still call ROG home to this day. One of the things that the "big balloon" (RE/MAX) would lure one into staying or signing up for is their ability to lead generate for you simply off of their network because they were "RE/MAX".
That really didn't sit well with me... kinda like "Shit in one hand and wish in the other".... you get the idea ;) hahaha
Looking back on this time, I was at a pinnacle turning point of self discovery. I had only been in the real estate biz for a little more than one year.. stresses were hella high, lots of doubt in the spirit and I was depressed and lacked motivation. I remember getting up at 7 or 8 in the morning frustrated at things, life, stuff. Meanwhile the house was up and moving.. I still had my go-get em attitude - ish.. but overall I was not as happy as I could have been on the inside.
Already one year out on my own being self employed, I still felt the sting of not being special anymore.. I was no longer working in a design industry that I really excelled in.. instead my brain lead me away from my heart and chose to step into a pool of 40,000 sales people where the failure rate was a staggering 85% in the first two years and then another 80-85% of the remaining 15% by quit by year four.
My mind knew the decision why I did what I did... but like a child, my heart disagreed with me.. so there I am with my soul, smack in the middle of mind and heart arguing with each other like a pair of schoolyard assholes... it was truly a difficult part of my life.
One evening I was working on a water feature project. All three of us (mind, heart & soul) were getting along as this was one of the things that made us feel special... made us feel one again... which I really needed. I was doing something I enjoyed and knew in my heart I was special at it.
At this time I was working on my second year in the biz and was with a real estate team I struggled with... I had less than 30 closings under my belt and was still figuring things out. The decision to leave RE/MAX felt like there was a fresh start I personally had an impact on.
There I am humming away in the shop, it's a quiet hocussed moment, and then my phone pings!... with my ADHD at its finest, I read the email... and sure as shit... there's a lead from RE/MAX... the system hadn't fully taken effect just yet. I thought, man?!.. I should'a left them a while ago! hahah
It was a guy named Tim from Illinois who was wanting information on possibly moving to Arizona. I still remember that night as if it were the other day ago. I was leaning over the shop table with my elbows on the dusty particle board top, cell phone cradled between two hands, bent over in such a way that the table was carrying my weight.. one leg on top of the other slightly crossed..
There I am just putting a lot of detail into my reply... sure'nuff this guy like details. More questions, more details. :)
To help him further I set him up on an MLS drip with a large footprint so he could get as much info as he needed. His looking at houses turned into a daily routine, like having your morning coffee so to say. :) Days and weeks would continue with this pen-pal relationship. Getting to know him better, Tim had lived in Illinois his entire life and had visited AZ a couple times over the years. He had family in Tucson but that was it. His family still needed to sell their home and all in all had a lot of preparation to do before this would become a reality. You could tell he was a planner and was detailed too.
Tim's family had purchased a home back in the 2005 era.. and like a lot of us, they lost their ass tremendously over the following years. Surrounded by foreclosures and shortsales their decision to buy at the time was painful. Fortunately they were able to keep it and just dredged on forward. All of this gives credence to the amount of decisions he and his family had about moving, not to mention leaving a state, a town you've known your entire life. He would have unique thought provoking questions for me.. all about the hows and what's regarding real estate. I would find myself at times spending a good hour or longer with detailed answers. It reminded me of a General Foreman of mine I worked with in my life prior to real estate... when he'd see my hospital designs he'd address me as Joshua "Thorough" Brill...
Those kind of realtor moments with Tim would make me feel special as he had such appreciation for the detail/perspective.
As time would carry on, I would get to learn about the Illinois market too. Our AZ market was churning and really getting traction, meanwhile, theirs was starting to move... but like someone just getting out of bed... on a weekend. hahah! it made me feel really good about what I was doing. It wasn't hard for me to give that kind of time as it just felt right as I would have been gun shy too.
During this time (2016) there were about 20,000 homes on the market... buyer's were starting to lose their grip on negotiating when trying to buy as the market was transitioning from a balanced market to a sellers market. The average price in the valley for a practical home was about $230,000.
It's funny as I reminisce about my buddy Tim.. it would be about 6 months or so after connecting with him that I would start this weekly picture blog... and here I am, writing in it about him no less. hahah
When I started with my basic emails (before gratefulman.com) I took a risk and added him to the email distribution... that was a great decision. Not only would we talk about real estate on a monthly basis he would see my life unfold and we would connect weekly. Meanwhile I've never met him or his family but we were becoming buddies. :)
As time prevailed he mustered the nerve to sell his house. To step into things lightly he decided to give it a shot selling it themselves as a for sale by owner (FSBO). While it was on the market, to become better prepared, he flew his entire family out to AZ to take a nice good look at properties... and as lame as it is... YES... I still have the showing data from that time. HAHAH! I am a total nerd.
It was now May of 2018... we were looking at 6 properties all in the east valley after selecting through shy of 60 houses. This was giving them a needed feel about what and how our houses offered and didn't offer.
Heading back to Illinois he struggled FSBO'ing his property. With little to no showings and as the temperatures dropped he reluctantly hired a real estate agent. The next spring time would come and he would give it another go with the new agent. They came highly recommended and were hopeful.. The showings would increase, but nothing was turning into a legitimate buyer.
As this process unfolded he would continually see new homes popping up on the AZ MLS.. he would ask more questions about selling his home up there for more feedback. Disappointingly so, the agent failed to do anything productive... It is now early 2019 and it's been almost a 2.5 year go at this with nothing to show for it... meanwhile houses are moving, and Tim's is not..
While Tim's family was struggling selling their home, his brother and sister in-law decided to sell their home that summer time as well, all with the intent to move to AZ as well. Although his bro-in-law hadn't sold yet, their agent was making the difference. With all the time I spent with Tim, he wonderfully introduced me to them to help find an AZ home.
We would end up finding a very nice home for his in-laws on the polar opposite side of town.. an easy 1hr 10min drive.. one way hahahh!.. His in-laws successfully closed mid April of 2019. That wasn't short of struggling writing multiple offers on two other properties all the while they were still in Illinois.
During this time still! Tim still couldn't sell his home.. meanwhile he got to see their close family sell and move to the sunshine state.. total bummer. Tim ultimately would hire his in-laws agent to help sell their home. He took their staging and kitchen renovation advice and gave this another shot.
The new agent made a difference... it's now late 2019.. it's been 3 years now.. he ended up getting his first offer!... disappointingly those buyers backed out... Damn!... had to wait another month... Got another offer!... boy he was stressed at this time. He'd send emails and texts keeping me posted on a play by play as if it were a football game. They got through the inspection... now repairs... wait?! you want how much money for that... NOT HAPPENING... they waited.. and waited more.
Buyers backed out again.
Back to the grind...
Boy he was shot.. having become his distant pen-pal I've been able to read his spirit.. there was none.
I had a client who was looking to have her Mom move (ironically from Illinois) to call AZ home. She needed to sell her property up there too. I asked my buddy Tim for his agent up there. Sadly his agent didn't serve that area but referred me to another. I worked out an agreement with that agent asking that instead of sending me a 25% referral fee for the seller (which is a customary amount agent to agent) I asked that she give a 25% discount to my client. She happily agreed.
She listed her house and a week later was under contract... a month later she was moved here in the sunshine state of AZ only 15 minutes from her daughter. I was so happy for her... but so bummed for my buddy Tim! :(
Tim had coached little league soccer for years... there was another family who was selling their home in Illinois and wanted to move to the sunshine state too!... Conveniently they were listed with the same agent Tim and his in-laws had... their family home sold too!
Again, wonderfully so - Tim introduced me to them as well!
After hitting it off with the soccer family, we made plans for them to come to AZ to scope out houses. During this time Tim got a third offer! It must have been late, late 2019 or early 2020. He was not super excited but extremely leery..
I mean hell... to see EVERYONE sell and move to the sunshine state, meanwhile the cold, bad weather of the Illinois winter was only adding to the shitty emotions... totally get it. I told him I got your back buddy! the sun out here has turned me into a raging optimist! ...
Covid-19 was now starting to show it's ugly ass face across the planet working its way to the US. The market was kinda not sure what was going to happen but was just getting in gear for a crazy year. By late February we had successfully closed on his soccer friends. :) Fortunately for us, they're just 15 min up the road and are amazing friends!! :)
Poor Tim though... damn... another family moved, gone from Illinois, and Tim and his family still needed to wait things out.. They were through everything on their sale and had a small hang up waiting for the appraisal to come in as the process should have been smoother... what now he wondered.. ah shit I thought.
Covid-19 had already hit NYC and was making its way through the US like a teenager plowing through a buffet line at a wedding! ...
Blizam! FINALLY! Closed on his family home!!
Not a week or two later the city of Chicago went on lockdown... Thankfully they closed and didn't have that stop them from closing.. now they were suddenly out of their 3,800 sf home and crammed into a 1000sf apartment.
After letting the dust settle he and his family were ready to come to AZ and scope out some houses. It was July 4th weekend, 2020... The last time I saw him there were hundreds of houses to widdle through... his kids were with him... Now so much time has passed, his kids no longer live with them... have gone off to college... it's just Tim and his wife... to compound that, there were less than 50 even available to sift through... less than 7 that even made the list to look at. Why bother he thought.... Although thankful to be out of his house, he was stressed because in AZ the house prices were going up and the inventory had plummeted!
Well this sucks shit....
After deliberation of even cancelling the trip they came out. Happy, but still bummed as there was shit to look at... we ended up looking at about 5 or 7 houses that weekend. Some new, many resale. None really stood out to the both of them.
As soon as they make it back to Illinois a house 7 min from his in-laws show up. We submitted an offer.... shit.. we're one of 5 others.. But we made it to the top of the list to compete with only one other offer. Leading us along the agent made it seem like we were a go... then calls me later saying you're the only call I'm making tonight amongst the other offers... I'm sorry, but the sellers chose a different buyer... damnit.
Uncomfortably and very reluctantly I called Tim and informed him it's not happening. I hated making that call. He took it well but shit man... I felt really bad.
A few weeks later, I met his in-laws out at another few houses... nothing stuck... then a nice distressed property came up. We talked and coordinated and talked more. The market still sucked but we had the weekend for time to help decide. They did. We wrote another offer... beat out another 5 people. Spent time trying to make something happen, made it to the finish line beating another offer through email... AWESOME!!! sent it for signatures :)
Nothing for the night and nothing again into the morning... I called Tim.. "What's up buddy"... It's not the right house.. I'm sorry. You must hate us by now... no buddy I don't. It sucks right now and you're better off saying no to something you're not happy with than saying yes and hating your decision. I called the agent and informed him and we all went on.
It's mid August of 2020 now... almost a full 4 years since that call back in 2016. I totally get his stresses and frustrations. Not being in a home anymore.. seeing everyone from Illinois sell their homes (all who all started after you did)... and then watch them find a new AZ home...meanwhile you're still up there... ugh!
The AZ market was a total shit show by now. We had dick for inventory, homes were flying off the shelves, buyers had to give, give, give and become more creative. After you give a seller EVERYTHING and MORE.. you only had the emotion to capitalize. Getting a house as a buyer right now was the most stressful time I have ever seen.
Crazy as hell knowing the numbers from 2016,now comparing them to 2020.
In Sept 2016, there were 19,475 homes for sale...
In Sept 2020, there are now only 8,313 homes for sale...
11,162 houses LESS!!!
Home prices have spiked from an average of $228,000 up to $325,000
A $97,000 price increase!!!
And here I am having to lead a buyer who bought at the peak of the market in 2005, lost a $100,000 investment over that time... and now I have to tell him that in order to buy a home, to be welcomed to the final bargaining table you will need to give MORE money than the seller is asking for AND!!!!!!!! be willing to buy the home at thousands of dollars ABOVE a low appraisal?!?!?! that amongst other things!! WOW!!!! I felt like total shit having to encourage a long time buddy of mine to do this.
Weeks later a house showed up on the market, his in-laws raced out to see the open house...
THIS IS THE HOUSE! YOU'D BE CRAZY TO NOT SUBMIT AN OFFER!!!!!!
Site unseen... we submitted an offer...
It was an over asking offer by thousands, willing to buy at thousands above a low appraisal, shortened the inspection period by 3 days, willing to buy without request for repairs, willing to close much later than normal... and in a last ditch effort, with all my blogging experience and "Brill'oetry" (my buddy says) I crafted a heartfelt letter, turned up the emotional heat and ask the sellers to read it.
I took their 4 year journey and captured it here:
Dear Loriann & Thomas :) Four years ago my wife Diana and I decided to sell our family home in Illinois. Both of us are natives to Illinois and have lived in the same area since we were children. The decision to move was not an easy one, nor was the process easy. After trying to sell our family home ourselves, hiring two different agents, being under contract with three different buyers, we finally sold it in February of 2020. We are so thankful it closed just before the Covid-19 pandemic really sank its teeth in. It was literally a four year journey. During that journey we’ve visited Arizona a number of times looking at houses with our Realtor and absolutely love the east valley. Last year my wife’s brother’s family sold their home in Illinois and moved to Power Ranch and love it just the same. In addition to that, close family friends have also sold their home in Illinois and moved to the Phoenix area in March of this year. Not only was it a challenge to sell our home, it was torture on our hearts as had to watch everyone move away and call Arizona home... meanwhile our house wasn’t selling. Now four years later, my wife and I are suddenly empty nesters. This is a different kind of feeling. To add to that, we have mustered the courage to leave a place that we have known our entire lives. I cannot begin to describe the vulnerable feeling we are processing. That being said however, with a tender heart, we are excited for this next step in our life. Since the sale of our home we have been actively on the hunt for a home for months now. Then, like a moment sent from heaven, a house we’ve fallen in love with in the past, in the area of town that we’ve always wanted to live shows up; your home. My wife is an avid cook and enjoys making dinners for our family. Having been out of our home for months now, all of our close family being gone, I can already smell her food in the kitchen as we serve our friends who are now in Arizona waiting for us. I have also never owned a pool before! I love the two little palm trees in the yard. Every home we saw with our agent I would talk about how much I wanted palm trees meanwhile, the Pine trees will always remind me of home. Finding the right home is a long process and moving is never easy. We are not sure if you need to find a new home to buy after selling this, however, we can only imagine that kind of stress. If you need to, we are happy to be flexible with the closing date so you can move on to your next stage in life with as little stress as possible. Our lives and our memories are what make a house a home. The chapters in life move ever-forward and new memories are formed, but we never forget where we came from… because our memories still live there even though we’ve moved on. Should you choose our family, we promise to love and care for it just as you have. Thank you for your consideration. Tim & Diana Stanley Our family at our last family vacation J Diana, Tim, Joshua, & Rachel
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ On my way home from a handyman job, driving to the Surprise landfill no less I get a call. "There are 8 difficult phone calls I have to make today... and yours is NOT one of them"...
The Stanley family got an accepted offer on a house that would have been on their list 4 years ago... and they got it!!
I asked her what made the difference amongst the other 8.. she said your offer was not the highest offer, but your short inspection period, no repairs, willingness to buy beyond the appraisal... and that letter. It made such a difference.
Dude!!! I was so jacked I had to pull over to compose myself. It wasn't my house... but damn it, she may as well have told ME that I got the house!! Calling my buddy Tim was a HUGE treat! He had already been so beaten down... 4 years of waiting... 3 years of trying to sell, 3 different agents, 3 different buyers... now, 3 different offers on homes... 3rd one was the charm!! :)
Ultimately the house would not appraise at our contract price... it actually appraised for much less than what the sellers were willing to move on. Thankfully Tim had agreed to over buy should such a situation happen.. but in order to motivate the sellers to not dissolve the transaction, we stepped in and contributed a portion of our commission to the low sales price to help smooth things over.
My buddy Tim and his wife moved into their home this past Friday, September 25th. Almost a full exact 4 years from the time he emailed me from a RE/MAX lead I happened to respond to and earn his trust.
Tim contacted me 6 months before I started this blog.. Today (I know not Friday) is my 185th GratefulMan.com post... Tim contacted when I was still discovering what I was doing in real estate and has been with me ever since... either providing provoking questions, scenarios, things that required action beyond a phone call. I have personally grown over this time while trying to help a buddy call Arizona home. Closing on Tim and Diana's house was my 128th successful closed transaction in 5 years... Since having met Tim we have helped more than 85 other families move on to a new chapter in their lives... some he has graciously introduced us to and has helped others simply by proxy...
When I look at that number I don't see a tally of checkpoints... I see a long duration of growth that occurred over a time frame of years, that 85 other families had the ability to move on in one way or another... meanwhile I was helping a buddy and his family waiting their turn. Processing it in that capacity is beyond humbling and makes me feel incredibly grateful to have been there for him that long.
If our relationship, our friendship, were a small human person, they'd be going on 5 now.. walking, talking, would know you by name. The least I could do was give today, GratefulMan post #185 to him and his family. To give the 6/7 hour commitment of emotional/creative capital to effectively convey his family's journey... a four year journey he invited me along for... all of which helped give me purpose and growth.
I wanted to share how inspirational his willingness to be my long distance pen-pal, to trust my developing wisdom over the years, introducing me to help his friends, and most importantly, have a hand in his calling the sunshine state home. This opportunity has meant the world to me. He unprovokingly reminds me of WHY I am in this business and WHY it was ok for me to leave my life prior to real estate.
His story and trust gives me motivation in a way my vulnerable heart needs. Today, my mind, my heart, and my soul all speak the same language. They have the same spirit in a way that didn't exist 4 years ago. <3
Thank you Tim!
Tim always talked about the palm trees and how excited he was to have one in his backyard maybe... today he owns 4 of them. :)