All’s quiet on the home front. Really quiet. I mean, we didn’t have a showing for over a month quiet. After complaining to our realtor (technically, we weren’t complaining, we were just wondering what the hell was going on), a showing magically appeared out of his office. A bit coincidental if you ask me. I don’t trust it. In general, I don’t trust Realtors (sorry Realtors), except for one, not because she’s so trustworthy, but because she’s smart. Her name is Laura Norat. She lives in South Florida. If you’re ever looking to buy a home in South Florida on the East Coast, call her (and no, I’m not personal friends with her and this isn’t an advertisement).
Laura did right by us in every way, steering us away from any house or neighborhood she thought unworthy and right to the safest, most family oriented neighborhood, with the best resale value. We were relocation people. Relocation people come, and relocation people go. She knew if she did it right by us, then she would end up selling our house too, which she did, for a small profit in a market where not many profits were to be had. What was good for us, was good for her. I got the feeling she applied this philosophy to all her clients. The home cooked meal, cooked by her mother and delivered by her husband, the first night we moved in, didn’t hurt either.
She still sends us Christmas cards. I don’t think it’s because she thinks of us as friends, in fact, I can assure you she doesn’t. She sends them because she knows one day we might be back, either as relocation people or retirees, either way, she’d have our business. I miss Laura Norat and I told her that during our last conversation, when we were knee deep in our search for our current house. The Realtors we’ve met since have left much to be desired. From the first woman, who we ended up firing after she lost us several times while out house hunting, to the woman who turned hysterical during closing, promising us a hundred dollars (which she never delivered) to make up for something the seller owed us and decided at settlement he wasn’t going to pay. The same woman, who did not as much as raise an eyebrow, at the state of our house on closing day (shit strewn all around, a trashed lined curb, giant Pod in the driveway). I still regret that we went through with settlement, but we weren’t moving around the corner. A moving fan was scheduled to arrive from Florida. If she had cared one bit about us or our business she would have made sure the house was empty, or at the very least informed us about the Pod, which sat in our driveway for a little over a week after we moved in. After all, the seller’s agent was a friend of hers in the same office. A fact that is not lost on me, I assure you. After settlement, we never heard from her again.
Clearly, she didn’t get it. We did not call her to sell our house. Not that we’ve had much better luck with the other Realtors we’ve met. The first Realtor to list our current house was really into it. She did a great job marketing our property and was very accessible, but she couldn’t negotiate a deal to save her life. She turned everything into a personal war and turned potential buyers off faster than you can flick a switch. The second guy (our current Realtor) is a traveling snake oil salesman/listing whore. Remember Keyser Soze? Yea, that’s how I felt twenty-four hours after I met this guy and had time to reflect on our meeting (of course this was after all the papers were signed). I’m not even sure how long our listing agreement is, that’s how good he is. Like a divorcee, who later recalls the doubts she ignored while standing at the altar, I can tell you my first doubts crept in as I glanced at his hands as he held out the papers for us to sign, but I too ignored them. The sight of his well manicured, longer than mine fingernails made me shudder. Had I seen them earlier, I can guarantee you that I wouldn’t have signed those papers. I know that may seem weird, but so are men with long fingernails. After seeing those nails, I half expected him to grab his top hat and cape and steal away into the night with a flourish, with his little sidekicks trailing behind, picking up his scraps. The sidekicks being these two other Realtors, who I guess work for him and do all his dirty work. Seriously, the day they came to put the for sale sign up there was close to two feet of snow on the ground. Finger nail man never got out of the passenger seat (I’ve never seen him driving himself). Instead, he had his minions (one in high heeled suede boots) nailing in the sign and taking pictures as he barked orders from the car. I watched from the window with a mixture of amusement and horror.
We hardly ever talk to Keyser directly, all phone calls and emails directed to him are returned by one of the minions. So much for personalized service he sold us on. Needless to say, when our listing agreement is up (next month, next year, never…who the hell knows?) we won’t be resigning with him.
In the end, though, it doesn’t matter what his finger nails look like, especially if he sells our house. The fact is, not too many people are looking at houses these days and even less are buying. The snake oil salesman can’t work his magic when there’s no magic to be worked. (Trust me, I did realize that same slippery personality that repulsed me could come in pretty handy if we were actually to get an offer.)
If your selling your house right now, I hope you have a Laura Norat and not my snake oil salesman, or the Realtor with a chip on her shoulder. Because if I had a Laura Norat, I would have sold my house last year before the tax credit expired. I would have found her abrasive (and maybe doubted her) as she said, “Take it. It’s the best offer you’re going to get.” But at least in hindsight, I would have known she was right, which was exactly what happened in Florida.