In the Trenches: Can’t Be Too Careful
A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job.
September - October
At an open house for a three-bedroom, two-bath home built in the 1980s, a woman walked in with a small handheld device. When I asked what it was, the woman said, “It’s an EMF meter”—a device that detects electromagnetic fields. Typically, it’s used to assess electrical wiring problems inside a home. But the woman seemed focused on some of the more controversial health risks purportedly linked to EMF exposure, like cancer.
The woman asked if she could test the home with her device. “Of course,” I said. After that, she got on the floor to smell the laminate, and then got up, stopped in front of an open window, and said “Ohhhhh, air” in a horrified voice. By this time, she had confessed to me that she was allergic to just about everything, and the amount of fresh air—and all the molecules that come with it—in the home seemed to bother her. I said jokingly, “Yes, the air comes with the house. Hopefully, you’re not allergic—or you’ll have to live on another planet.” Without batting an eye, she looked down at her meter, said “Hmmm,” and left.
I had gotten her contact information before she left, and for a while, we stayed in touch and she continued to look at my feed of listings online. I checked in with her from time to time, but eventually, she just disappeared.—Diana Stoneberg, GREEN, Realty ONE Group Mountain Desert, Sedona, Ariz.
Signs of a Booming Business
On a beautiful, sunny day in Southern California in 1996, I was in my office when the phone rang. The woman on the other end of the phone—someone I had never spoken to before—asked if she could borrow a couple of my open house signs. It was an unusual request, but she explained that she was helping out with a function for the parent-teacher association at her son’s school. Of course, I said OK, and she picked up two of my signs.
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She returned them to me at home a few days later, and she fell in love with my neighborhood. She said she wanted to live there. Within months, I developed a business relationship with the woman, sold her house for $200,000, and helped her buy a home in my neighborhood for $480,000—all because I let her borrow my open house signs.
Twenty years later, after the sign borrower-turned-client made some improvements to the home I helped her buy, I noticed on the MLS that she sold the property for $2.2 million in July 2016. This experience reminds me of the ways real estate professionals can improve their clients’ circumstances, and it showed me that karma is real. Helping someone with a small request can come back to you in the form of new business.—Elvira E. Masnec, Exclusive Equity, Diamond Bar, Calif.