My father built a small home out of red bricks on a lake in Michigan. His best friend and neighbor, a skilled mason, used leftover bricks to build a backyard barbeque with a tall chimney, a gift in celebration of my birth. I have such wonderful memories of that house, that beautiful lake, and the idyllic neighborhood I grew up in. I’m still overcome with emotions every time I see that nearly 60-year-old barbeque standing like new, in defiance of time. Even my footprints imbedded in a freshly poured cement seawall when I was two years old are still there to remind me of those magical days. We never forget our childhood home.
Earlier this year, my clients, the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, were looking for a decent ranch in their price range in several nearby towns. These homes had all sold quickly just before my clients began looking. After months of keeping a close eye on the market, hope slowly fading, they asked me to show them a foreclosure property they happened to notice in a quaint, far away town, admitting from the outset that it was mostly out of curiosity.
Expecting the worst, we were pleasantly surprised by its condition. “This isn’t in bad shape at all!” the astonished husband said. And after a long pause, “My father had this house built. This was my childhood home.” “I can’t believe it. This was my bedroom. My brother slept over here. These are the same cabinets,” and so on. Pointing to some coat hooks – nails in a board along the basement stairs – “I hammered these in 40 years ago.” And then there were stories about the neighbors. He was sure several of them still lived there. “Wait ‘till they find out!” he said with a hint of childhood mischievousness.
With their hearts set on it, imagine my dismay when I found out the bank’s agent was presenting four other offers to the bank the very next day. How fortunate that my clients had just enough time to react.
“Congratulations!” the bank’s agent said only two days later. “Your offer has been accepted!” (Most real estate agents are always at their best, but I can assure you they’re at their very best when it really counts – those critical moments that arrive in every real estate transaction – like when a client is trying to save his childhood home!)
That’s why I chose real estate – the real part of it – the sheer joy that came through my phone when I passed the good news along to my clients. The same joy I would have felt if it had been my childhood home.
In the weeks leading up to the closing, the bank allowed my clients to work on the property – minor repairs, the hayfield of a yard, abandoned junk and the like. How humbling it was to so see the joy and determination in my clients’ eyes as they began bringing their home back to life.
And for added lift, I watched the appraiser look at the sales contract, raise his eyes up towards the house, and look back at the contract with a puzzled look as if he thought he might be at the wrong address. “They got a heck of a deal.”
I picture a Christmas stocking hanging where it once spread its warmth so many years ago, bringing childhood memories back to life. Home again, defying time, just like my childhood barbecue.
Season’s Greetings and a Happy New Year from all your friends at TLC Realty.