Vickie Leonard

Tuesday was filled with tiresome real estate agent tasks, which led to wonderful results. (We’re not there yet, though.) First, to accommodate my clients’ request to speed up their loan, I had a meeting with the processor. I had brought the requisite papers, evidence of funds, final pay stub, and latest bank statement. An hour later, that phase seemed completed, but there are two more phases before the loan is ready.

As the loan officer, I am the one who must be sure every condition is resolved. I realized that for the entire day I would be on standby. In other words, I must be ready to drive loan papers across town to the underwriting lender whenever I received the phone call.

A quick mental summary of my most pressing work obligations included computer searching and previewing for three buyers, finding and calling homeowners attempting to sell their own homes, answering e-mail, and picking up gift baskets. With this thrilling schedule ahead of me, I took off.

I was driving my “Realtor car” wearing my “Realtor clothes.” The car, a gold 1995 Nissan Maxima, has plenty of legroom in the backseat. We can’t have the spouse feeling cramped. Sometimes, buyers are in my car for three hours at a stretch. I can’t make the house prices go down, but I can offer a cozy car and chocolate.

My “Realtor wardrobe” consists of conservative dark slacks with jackets in bright or muted colors. The strategy is to look professional seven days a week with little thought and less effort. “Realtor shoes” must tolerate anything, mud, basements, soggy backyards, construction sites, the request “remove shoes before entering.” Most of us prefer slip-on, low-heeled shoes that clean up nicely.

Having carefully selected the best homes from the database, my previewing began. I called the owners requesting to visit their home in the next two hours. The first home had a view of Puget Sound, a teeny moat with bridge, and the world’s largest koi (goldfish). There were at least three, weighing eight pounds apiece, and a live turtle!

At the second house, the owner arrived right after I did. He was a delightful retired newspaperman from the Seattle Times. Instead of a brief solo visit, I spent 40 minutes on his detailed tour. He enjoyed my company but made it clear that he was not going to believe anything I said. His views reminded me that Realtors are often perceived to be superficial, greedy, say-anything salespeople. Somehow defending myself by saying that I was a newspaper subscriber seemed inadequate. He would have distrusted any testimonials to my integrity.

Back in the car, I’m near the florist’s. They are happy to see me. I pick up the gift baskets with the crystal wineglasses for my homebuyers. Then I ask the florist to deliver a large showy flower arrangement to a construction site on Friday afternoon. My buyer has made numerous special requests of the builder, and the builder, atypically, has been very accommodating. The least I can do is send flowers, matching the color scheme of the furnished model home with a highly visible card reading, “For the Most Wonderful Builder.” It will be a testimonial that has credibility.

Again, I’m on the road. The third previewed home had no key box to allow my entry. The house appears to be perfect for a demanding, prickly client. She deserves my patience. She’s almost 70, worked hard all her life, and as she tells me, “nothing’s been given to me.”

The fourth house had no backyard and the fifth no reason for its $225,000 price tag.

I passed three houses being sold by their owners. I jotted down the phone numbers. Possibly, I can find a way to help them. They may be ready to let an agent handle their home and simply haven’t met the right agent.

I called on the loan’s progress to learn that a bank VOD, verification of deposit, is needed. The bank had refused to fax it. I drove through heavy traffic to the office for the blank VOD and signed information release, then to the bank and back to the office.

From lengthy car phone conversations with my clients and the underwriter, it’s clear that I can’t go to the Internet & Real Estate Seminar tomorrow. Instead, I will begin my day by picking up my buyers’ newest contribution to their loan file, a letter in which they attest that despite a credit-bureau red flag, they did not open any new credit lines. Then I will drive across town with the loan file, every fact double-checked, every conditon met. This is the file that will be bundled with other loans and sold, time and again, during the next 30 years. My borrowers and their home will age; only the interest rate remains the same.