Putting Emotions Aside

For Mario Cooremans, a sales associate with Keller Williams Legacy in San Antonio, the death of his mother forced him to sell the family home. But letting go was easier said than done.

May 1, 2010

Location: San Antonio
Square footage: 2,650
Lot size (square footage): 7,750
Bedrooms: 3
Bathrooms: 2.5
Year built: 1984
Extras: Open living area with a vaulted ceiling and a fireplace, with an office that has built-in bookshelves on one wall. Master bedroom with a huge closet, and a sitting area with inside and outside access to views of the backyard and pool. Backyard oasis dotted with palm trees and a pool, waterfall, and hot tub, and a covered patio with skylights for entertaining.

THE CHALLENGE: Mario Cooremans, a sales associate with Keller Williams Legacy in San Antonio had seen many sellers struggle with the emotions of selling a family home. But after his mother died, Cooremans had to sell the Mediterranean-style family home he purchased from his parents.

Cooremans' parents lived in the two-story home. "When my father became ill with diabetes and started to go blind, the doctors told us to enjoy our time with him and said he would not live too much longer," he recalls.

With her husband's health failing, Cooremans' mother bought a one-level house in the area to provide round-the-clock care for her ailing spouse and locked up the larger home.

"My mother loved the house and wanted to keep it in the family. But I already had a home with a pool, and my brothers didn't want to buy the family home. So my mother locked it up and let it sit," he says.

In April 2004, Cooremans and his wife sold their home and bought the family home from his parents. "We were hoping that mom would come and live with us after my father died. She was always the picture of health. But as my dad — who is still alive today — started getting better, my mother became very ill. She died of cancer in June 2007," he says.

"We had been waiting for her to come back and live with us. We didn't realize she never would. After she passed away, we decided to sell the house," he adds.

"But I had such an emotional stake in the home that I actually ran a buyer off one day during a negotiation. I told him to just forget it. It took 75 showings, but I eventually got the deal done," he says.

How did you overcome the challenge?

COOREMANS: Listening to clients and other sales professionals' comments and feedback and getting honest. Being a real estate practitioner and knowing what I was doing, I eventually realized that I either had to let the home go or take down the sign. The guy who bought it is great because he loves the house and has done a great job with it.

What was the selling price?

COOREMANS: We sold the home for $280,000 in July 2008.

What techniques did you use to market this property? And how much did you spend?

COOREMANS: We marketed in different publications, held open houses, agent open houses, and paid for color print ads. We spent a little money — about $300.

What was the housing market like at the time?

COOREMANS: It was a buyer's market, which affects every home on the market. To make matters worse, the main media focus was about the declining housing market. They would fail to mention that there were areas in different states that were holding up better than the average national statistics. And San Antonio held up pretty good compared to other areas that really took a beating. Still, the national media were saying the sky is falling, and buyers seemed to be listening. But this area was very good.

How did you find a buyer?

COOREMANS: A buyer driving the area saw the property and contacted his real estate practitioner to set up a viewing. The buyer saw the house a few times and made an offer, but we could not come to an agreement because I wasn't able to let go. After a few weeks, the buyer came back again with a counteroffer, and we worked out a cash deal.

What's the biggest factor you attribute to closing the deal?

COOREMANS: Taking emotions out of the deal and moving forward. I was looking at this as a family home instead of looking at it as a house for sale. I needed to practice what I preached to my clients in my own life.

How did you get started in real estate?

COOREMANS: Growing up, my parents were always buying older, larger homes and fixing them up or updating them and looking for something else. Prior to getting into real estate, I worked in the automotive business. One day I started to think about how I wanted to retire. I left the automotive business and got my real estate license in August 2004.

Do you have a specialty or niche?

COOREMANS: I love marketing unique and older homes. I love walking into a home that holds so much history and witnessing the amazing touches and personalities that each owner adapts to the dwelling. I have always gravitated to vintage homes and clients who enjoy the same style. Traffic is always slower in these areas, I know. But I feel like working with these clients and these properties is more gratifying to me in the end.

What lessons did you learn?

COOREMANS: Once you have a home on the market, it becomes a house; it is no longer a home. Whether it's your home or the one belonging to the client, you have to find a way to detach the emotional strings and market the property as a house for sale.