scratching off lottery ticket

© Steve Musgrave

In the Trenches: Like Winning the Lottery

A collection of stories from real estate professionals detailing crazy, funny, or poignant experiences that have happened on the job.

January - February
2020

A Reversal of Fortune

A friend asked me to help him sell the bar he had owned for 22 years. He was concerned about doing right by Millie, the woman who had managed the bar since it opened. She had expressed a desire to buy the bar but didn’t have the income to qualify for a loan. My client decided he would give her a lump sum payment from the sale to thank her for her service.

Once the property was listed, we received several offers but none close to the $400,000 asking price. A month later, Millie called and told me she was ready to make an offer. I said, “But you can’t afford it.” She told me she’d explain in person. On my way to see her, I kept thinking, “What did she do to change her fortunes?” I was almost afraid to ask.

When we met, Millie shared her news: “I won the lottery!” She pulled out the paper verifying that she had won $10 million. So she asked me to write the offer for the full list price—minus the amount my client was going to give her from the sale. I brought the offer to my client; he chuckled when he saw the lump sum deducted and accepted the offer. Later, Millie, who hadn’t received the funds from her lottery win yet, asked me if she could borrow a few bucks to buy a pack of cigarettes. I said, “How do I know you’re good for it?” We laughed, and I gave her the money. She paid me back promptly, and the sale closed in two months.—Steve Kendall, Security Pacific Real Estate, Richmond, Calif.

It’s Who You Know

I was taking my buyers, a married couple, on home tours, but the last property they asked to see wasn’t on the market. Mrs. Buyer, a schoolteacher, had heard through the grapevine that one of her colleagues was planning to list her home soon. According to my clients, the home, which they had visited before, fit their needs. I figured if this was “the one” for them, we should at least stop by and try to talk to the owner.

When we arrived at the house, I knocked on the door, and Mr. Potential Seller answered. To my shock, I knew the guy! I had worked with him several years before when I was an urban planner, and we kept in touch through my husband, who also worked with him in other capacities. Mr. Potential Seller and I exchanged pleasantries, and he let me and my clients inside. As we entered, he said to me: “We were going to call you next week to help us sell our home!”

I ended up double-ending the deal, representing both my buyers, who loved the home even more after the walkthrough, and the sellers. I also helped the buyers sell their old home and helped the sellers buy a new home. It’s a small world, and you never know who’s going to open the next door for your business.—Heather Sims, Ebby Halliday, REALTORS®, Richardson, Texas

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