Adventures in Real Estate
I’VE NEVER BEEN ONE to delve too deeply into the world of Real Estate. I just find it all mystifying, fraught with language designed to confuse (At least it seems to me that way), and absurdly expensive. The people who do it for a living, however, I find to be, generally, fascinating in their own gut wrenching way. Let me explain.
For any of you who work in Real Estate, I apologize in advance. I mean no harm and, heck, you’re working for a living.
Working for a living and relying on Commissions to pay the bills, is tough. I’ve done it, I know. It can be either feast or famine. One month you are eating prime rib and the next month you’re fighting with Fluffy for that last can of Friskies.
It takes a special breed to work on Commission. You have to be relentless, willing to work more hours in a week than most people, and you have to keep a smile on your face and in your voice. That ain’t me.
Being able to work in Sales is a gift. I have a great respect for people so blessed. I did it for too many years and developed my own motto: “If the customer is right – check again, because something is wrong.”
But some Real Estate people just give me the Heebies and the Jeebies.
In Terre Haute there is a woman Real Estate agent who is everywhere. I see her face on billboards and in the newspaper. She even has a weekly television infomercial on Saturday mornings, showing houses and properties that she is flogging. She gives me the willies worse than Barney the Dinosaur.
I realize that she is just a local agent, but no matter where I have lived around the country I have seen her or her twin stalking me, urging me to buy the “Lovely two BR, 1½ bath, on a quiet residential street, near schools and churches.” I’m beginning to think that, somewhere in Area 51 they are cloning her, sending all of them out as Sleeper Real Estate Agents, just awaiting a signal from the Mothership to activate and put us all in escrow.
Only once in my life have I had dealings with a Real Estate Agent who didn’t creep me out.
In 1976 I was living in Cleveland, Ohio and, to make a long story readable, I bought a house. The Agent was a fellow named Dan who was about 20 years older than me and had an educated Middle-European accent. He was very helpful and tolerant, answering the hundreds of questions I had. Dan remained calm and purposeful, focused on his goal – to get me to sign on the dotted line.
Over the course of several weeks Dan showed me a number of houses and never lost his cool. In his shoes I would have strangled me and dumped the body in Lake Erie.
One Sunday afternoon, as he was showing me yet another nice suburban “pied-à-terre,” I asked him how he got into the Real Estate game. He told me that when he came to this country, “after the war,” (World War II in this case) he needed a job and he had a good command of English. When I pried a little more “Dan, Dan, The Real Estate Man” told me that during the war he had been a fighter pilot – for the Luftwaffe.
I had to admit to him that it took a lot of guts to come to the U.S. considering that fact. He said that it was his best option. His home and family in Europe were – gone, and he was a young man who wanted to make a life for himself.
I had to respect Dan.
I didn’t pry farther into his life, but he did sell me a house.
That cloned woman I see, no matter where I am, will never sell me a house, no matter what galaxy she hails from. And I wager that she can’t beat Dan’s story.