Vickie Leonard

Working the weekend always reminds me of the Washington, D.C., lawyer joke. “Why do lawyers like Fridays? Because they have only two more workdays until Monday.” For much of America, weekends are a time of socializing and relaxing. Weekends to Realtors are when we get to meet the housing needs of America! Or when we simplify the complexities and ease the anxieties of new friends as they make their largest purchases.

Today (Sunday), I was watering the flowers in the container by the neighbor’s yard. She saw me and asked why I was dressed up. I replied, “I’m off to work. I’m a Realtor.” She asked if I liked it. The question always gives me pause. Salespeople are supposed to wax ecstatic about their work. My style is to be more honest. “It’s great helping good people find the right house. However, I would prefer working for a progressive nonprofit. But how many people get to do exactly what they want?” We shared a laugh about real life and went our separate ways.

It was my turn at the office to do “floor time.” The task is to answer all phone calls including ones about home ads in the newspaper. These calls can provide a pleasant, well-informed agent with new clients who want to buy or sell. The phone rang several times. Agents were calling asking about houses that my company has for sale. Finally, a caller asked about our ad house. She seemed to be a nice woman who was in her car with her cell phone, wanting to view houses today. I suggested she could stop by our office and I would provide her with some addresses.

I liked W. the minute she arrived. She and her husband, B., are pleasant, easygoing people with kids about 6 and 4. We discussed their finances, and I offered to provide mortgage services. They liked the idea of one-stop shopping. Later in the week, I will review their W-2’s and bank statements and complete their loan application.

Today was perfect weather for house hunting, sunny and in the 70s. First, we began with a computer search in the Northwest Multiple Listing Service database. The database allows licensed real estate agents to review all available homes selected by location, price, bedrooms, bathrooms, and some 80 other parameters. The database is impressive. We agents can find homes with hot tubs, “needing TLC,” or “offering owner financing.” I (VickieGL@aol.com) often e-mail my clients color photos and descriptions.

Today, for W. and B., I keyed in the desired area, their price range, four bedrooms, and one and three quarter baths. They looked at the photos while I read the descriptions. They selected the most attractive three to see first. With map in hand, we were off.

The first house charmed her. It had a pretty front yard, a deck, huge backyard, and swing set. The house is a split entry–i.e., from the front door one can either walk up a level or down a level. In the Seattle suburbs, the upper floor usually holds the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms while the lower level has an extra bathroom, rec room, and possibly a bedroom. B. did not like the proximity of the master bathroom to the living room–it’s really the primary bathroom. He had hoped for a little more distance from the home’s epicenter.

At the second, B. said that he was willing to finish the lower-level rooms’ ceilings and baseboards. W. was put off by the new cheap gold carpet. At the third home, all three of us attempted to unlock the door, but it would not budge. The patio cracks, the broken sliding door, and the moss on the roof led them to suspect the inside would require a good deal of work, too.

I suggested a fourth house close by. Only 10 years old, the house has nice touches, an open kitchen facing the family room and a living room with a cathedral ceiling. They adored it, but B. didn’t like the nearby busy roads.

I now had a good sense of the kinds of houses they would want to see, houses that I would need to find for them. The kids were clearly tired, while we adults were subtler about our house-hunting fatigue. It seemed like a good time to stop. I reassured them that we absolutely would find the right house. We said goodbyes. As I drove away, I dialed my cell phone to pick up my messages.