Sally came home from school…and, as she normally does, she ran upstairs to let her parents know she was home. When she went into the master bedroom, she found her parents, laying in a pool of blood on the floor, dead. Her father had shot her mother in the head and then pointed the gun at himself and committed suicide. We don't know why. I guess for whatever reason life was too difficult for him so he ended it. Sally's life would never be the same. Nor would mine. She was 16.
I have known this family since Sally was 6. She also has two sisters, Susan 25 and Sandy 22. This family was part of a large extended family in Poinciana and I have been their Broker for years. They trust me. They are my friends. We have been through several sales related to divorce and a couple more related to illness. I love these people.
My phone rang one day last year and it was Susan, she asked me if I would come over and meet with her and her husband, over at her parent's house, to see about placing it on the market. The murder/suicide had just happened a week earlier and I had just heard about it the day before Susan called. I was shocked and heart broken for these three beautiful young girls. But I needed to help them. All they had left in the world was the house that they had grown up in and where their parents had died so tragically.
I knew this would be the most difficult listing appointment I had ever been on. But I had no idea how difficult it would truly be.
Anyway, I prepared my analysis and went over the next day to meet with them. When I opened the door there were the 3 girls waiting for me. I hugged them and mumbled something stupid about being sorry and went on in to look at the house. They gave me the tour and when we went into the master bedroom, the carpet had been cut out of a large part of the floor, where the bodies had been. They did this to remove the blood stains. I was still OK and managed to finish the tour.
We went back downstairs and sat at the dining room table and I pulled out my stuff, so we could figure out a price, to get it sold. That's when I made my mistake. I made eye contact with Sally for the first time. Folks….I'm a tough guy, I've been through and seen a lot in my lifetime but NOTHING will prepare you for looking into the eyes of a 16 year old girl, who had just found her parents dead, a week earlier. They were and still are the saddest eyes I have ever seen. I lost it.
I had to excuse myself and I went outside to gather myself. These girls were depending on me. This was no time for me to be weak. They needed my strength not my weakness. It took me just a few minutes to gather myself and I went back in and took care of the business at hand. I can't bring their parents back but I can help them get this home sold so they can get on with their lives. And I did. I did what needed to be done. After all, they are my friends and I am their Broker. Where else could they turn?
Folks, this is a true story. Of course, the names were changed to protect my friends but everything else is true. I wrote this for a reason.
As REALTORS® we have to help people through their difficulties. If you are working mainly with Buyers you may not run across this that often. Buyers are buying during an "up time" in their life. They just got married or they just had a child and need a larger place or maybe it's their first home together. Whatever it is, it is normally a happy occasion.
If you work with Sellers, you WILL encounter the ugly side of life quite often. You need to be prepared for it. Sellers sell because of divorce, illness, financial hardship, death, old age and a myriad of life's difficulties. Our job is to be able to help them through these times. It's not easy. I have cried with my Sellers on more than one occasion. I have been pissed off at their circumstances. I have been there for them if they needed to talk. I pray for my Sellers every day. I know things about my Sellers that their own family members don't even know. I do not judge them. I am their confidant, their friend, their calming force and their counselor. AND I am their real estate Broker. "Real Estate is about people NOT money"
This post was inspired by Patrick Canavan's post "Leaving a listing appointment with tears in my eyes". My response to Patrick was:
So my advice is……always help if you can. No matter the circumstances some times folks need to sell and get on with their lives. And if we as REALTORS(R) can help….then we MUST do so. Our job is not about selling houses.
Here are a few other real life examples of the issues our Sellers deal with:
Folks, this was a very difficult post to write. I hope it made you think. And for you Buyer's Agents out there, if my Seller does not accept the offer, you presented, please don't assume that they are being "foolish". You have NO idea what my Sellers may be going through. And that's all I have to say about that.
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