Victoria Holmen interned for REALTOR® Magazine in 2015. She now works with the Association and MLS Governance team.
The Stuff of Fiction
Ursula Bendix has turned her experiences as a real estate professional into fictional short stories, which she hopes will entertain and educate both practitioners and consumers alike.
December 17, 2015
Bendix Real Estate
Ordinarily, we cover news in the real estate industry, as well as the life and times of real estate professionals and what makes their business work. But we're always looking for new ways to inform our audience, and one California broker has suggested there's a place for another type of content in real estate education: fiction.
Ursula Bendix sent us her fictional story, "Sure, Why Not?" It's part of a larger collection of short stories she has written around her local real estate market. They're set in Siskiyou County, an area bordering Oregon that she calls the "last frontier in California."
Her story tells the tale of Gisela, a real estate agent showing homes to a young man looking for an investment property. While the man works most of the year in Alaska, he has saved enough to invest in California property — a hot and quickly appreciating commodity. Gisela shows him some promising places while dealing with situations typical in her profession: a client who is late for appointments, properties not fitting the client's expectations, and going the extra mile to help him find the right one. The personal connection she makes with her client reminds Gisela of another professional relationship she had years ago, and she's left wondering how to make sure brief interactions lead to long-term partnerships with her clients.
Bendix has aspirations for getting her stories published in the future, but in the meantime, she shed some light on her inspiration to write and how it fuels her creativity in real estate.
Your stories highlight the slog of the real estate business as well as the area in which you live and work. What inspired you to begin writing in the first place?
My customers inspired me to write. Many of them have very unique personalities, and I wanted to remember them. So when the market slowed down after 2008, I had time to reflect on the various transactions and the people involved. One day while sitting in my office at my computer without an appointment in sight, I began to write. I titled my first story "Patrick."
Is "Patrick" based on a specific client? What made this client an interesting person to write about?
Much of it is based on a real client. I've embellished a little, changed some situations, and tried to give the story a little drama and a little humor. "Patrick," my client, gives proof to the old adage that you can't judge a book by its cover. He looked as though he had fallen on hard times and couldn't possibly afford any type of property. The first thing he mentioned when I greeted him was that no one seemed willing to work with him. My motto is that every client deserves at least one showing, even if there is a slim-to-none chance that a purchase will be made. To my surprise, "Patrick" did end up purchasing a property, and we both felt it was a wonderful accomplishment.
Your stories take people "behind the scenes" into the thoughts and work of a real estate agent. Who is your intended audience and what do you hope they take away from your fiction?
Just like any other industry, the business of real estate has its own vocabulary, rules, and circumstances. We read about fashion, movies, health care, and other industries, and we gain a better understanding of the problems and issues related to them. Likewise, I hope the readers of my stories, whether they are connected with real estate or not, will learn more about its ins and outs. Fiction is a great teacher.
What are some of the specific ins and outs of real estate you hope consumers learn from your stories?
Siskiyou County, where I work, is extremely rural and not particularly prosperous. I think the real estate professionals who live and work here become very involved with their customers and concerned for their well-being. We become such a large part of our clients' lives and learn so much about them that establishing a trusting working relationship is extremely important. Repeat business and referrals are important in such a small community.
I think my stories show that real estate agents and brokers are concerned about more than the financial gain of a transaction, that they are committed to the welfare of their clients and often play the role of counselor, friend, and willing listener.
Have you based characters in all of your stories on clients you've worked with?
Some of the characters in my stories are a composite of various costumers, others are unlike any of my costumers, and still others are true to themselves. Of course, a constant character in my stories is the setting. The very remote and beautiful area of Siskiyou County in the northernmost part of California is featured in almost all of the stories I have written so far.
What kind of an outlet is writing for you?
Writing for me is very calming. It allows me to have control over events. I live in a very scenic part of California. Writing my stories has made me even more aware of the surrounding beauty and unique character of the area. I would like to form a collection of short stories that will be published and, of course, read by a huge audience. I have just begun to submit my stories to various publications in the past few months, but I will continue writing even if I don't get published. Writing satisfies me.