“Real Estate Can Be Fun…Sometimes”
I taught high school for thirteen years. I loved it until I saw the winds of change blowing in…most of my teaching time devoted to state testing preparation. I decided to leave while I still had more good memories than bad ones.
But what profession should I pursue? I decided on real estate and joined a large Houston independent firm in the late 70s. Now, the real money in this profession is made in listings. Hang your lockbox on a lot of houses and wait for others to sell them. Not for me. I’m a people person. My strengths were in my preparation (I studied the inventory and truly knew the market) and my love of meeting people. I soon found my niche when I was moved to Corporate Relocation Specialist. I worked group moves by major oil companies and Compaq Computer Corporation–both internal and international–and was blessed to meet people from all over the world.
This is how it worked…my initial call came in from a couple transferring or returning to Houston, I learned their preferences in order, area (if they knew) and then began working my jigsaw puzzle to put it all together. Usually, the husband arrived first. I picked him up at the airport and showed him selected houses. He chose possibilities for his wife to see. I could get to both airports blindfolded and have visited lobbies of most every hotel in Houston. My days could run from 8 a.m. until 9 p.m. I’ve been known to negotiate contracts from my home until after midnight. Certain cultures dine late and don’t care to talk business until after dinner! I’ll share a few of my stories with you…
A couple was transferred in with Exxon. Never having visited Houston, they wanted to see everything, especially outlying areas they read about. We began in The Woodlands, a large area in Northwest Houston. They really liked the first house, but the husband said perhaps they should look at ALL corners of Houston.. For the next five days we looked 10 hours a day at EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE. They bought that very first house I showed them, 3 gas tanks, $65 lunches at my expense, and many driving hours later.
A sweet young Conoco couple came in from Oklahoma to make their first home purchase. I took the wife out while the husband attended meetings. She fell in love with every home I showed her and “gushed” over each one in front of the owners. During our lunch break, I tried to tactfully tell her that she might need to hold her comments until we got back to the car because she could be compromising bargaining power. “Oh…” she said, “I see. I’ll be more careful.”
The last house we saw was absolute perfection. A cold day, the owner had cinnamon rolls baking. I watched as she tried using all the strength she could muster not to gush. The owner walked us out. On her front door was a brass knocker with the word “Shalom” (Jewish for ‘peace’) Thanking her, we were half way down the walk when my customer could stand it no longer…”By the way, Mrs. “Shall-um,” your house is just gorgeous!.
An oil exec from Russia was returning to the states. His name? TED BUNDY. Try writing that moniker on a contract you are about to submit!
A lady from Sweden was astounded at the modern conveniences in the homes I showed her. We found THE house and were re-visiting the massive “garden” bath. She looked at the large window and declared, “Others can see my ‘bits!’ Using my real estate expertise, I suggested a small blind would solve the problem, adding “And just look at this large, walk-in shower! There’s a bench where you can sit to shave your legs!” Too late I looked down at her leg hair long enough to braid!
I had picked up a man returning from Saudi. Here I was in a car with a strange man driving down I45 with signs on both sides of the freeway advertising XXXMovies and Girly Shows while trying to make polite conversation. Suddenly, he cried, “Stop!” I looked at him questioningly when he uttered, “I’m recovering from malaria. I’m getting sick and need to go directly to my hotel.” I quickly obliged him, shortly before he vomited.
After the first of my Japanese doctors arrived for work at Baylor, I began receiving their referrals. One afternoon a new doctor showed up at my office unannounced. I asked for his referral. In broken English: “Card on bulletin board say ‘easy lady.’” I asked him where it was posted. “Tokyo,” he answered. When I told my husband, he replied, “Better’n a bathroom wall in Cedar Rapids.”
I learned new phrases from my BP people from the UK. I knew to open my trunk when they asked to place briefcases in the ‘boot.’ I learned to honk my horn when a car pulled in too close and heard, “Pop your toot-ah!” And I learned this…once, at the end of the day, a customer needed to drop off some papers at his new secretary’s home. Driving up in front of her condo, I volunteered to re-park while I waited. “No,” he said, “just remain here. I only have to go knock her up.” (call her to the door) I managed a weak smile and told him to take all the time he needed.
Brenda Miles is an award winning columnist and author who lives in Hot Springs Village. She welcomes your comments at [email protected]