Thirty five years in fact, to a time when I was a reporter for the Idaho Mountain Express and one of my beats was real estate in Sun Valley.
Funny thing is I didn’t know one thing about real estate back then. Points? What are points? And why do we need them?
But then I moved to San Francisco and – after a couple of years freelancing and working in PR – I got my real estate license. That was 30 years ago this month.
I’d tell you that I’ve “seen it all” over three decades, but there’s something new every day.
For example, just last week, I visited the soon-to-be home of my client “A.” A’s middle-school kids came along, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen children get so excited about a house. They even asked to sample the Hetch Hetchy tapwater from the kitchen faucet and declared its temperature and taste “perfect.”
To see people so happy – or frustrated, angry, sad, pensive, anticipatory, surprised – is a job perk that cannot be overvalued. Mine is a very human business, and I love the intimacy of it.
So, as a way of celebrating my 30th anniversary as a Realtor, here are snapshots of five memorable moments from my career:
Standing on the large deck of my listing with a buyer’s agent and her newly-married clients, the wife asked if she could please turn a cartwheel. She turned three and about three weeks later that property became her home.
Out on brokers’ tour and in the middle of walking through a tenant-occupied property, my buyer became ill and had to run for the bathroom. Let’s just say the mark was missed and I’ll never forget how cheerful and reassuring the listing agent was while helping me clean up the mess. (That agent, whom I now consider a friend, won’t soon forget either.)
Back in the days when multiple and over-asking offers were a new thing, I sat down with my sellers at the kitchen table where they’d eaten meals for 20 years. It had been hard to let go and even harder to get the house ready to sell. (Plus the husband had been skeptical about my price-low-sell-high strategy.) When I read the price of the winning offer, the husband grimaced. His wife looked at him and then me, her face drained of color. We all were silent. I wondered how he could be unhappy with the 25%-over-asking offer. Then he put his hands over his face and wept with relief.
While reviewing company listings on a Wednesday, a colleague and I walked through an entire Pac Heights mansion, from garage to the attic. As we left – scratching our heads about how poorly the house “showed” – a maid, dressed in a starched uniform, approached us and asked if she could help us. Turns out we were in the wrong house!
As a new agent, I went door knocking. This was a suggested way to generate business. Since I was new to the city, new to real estate, totally without connections and someone who followed directions, I did what my manager recommended. On my second afternoon of canvassing, a man answered the door and – I kid you not – said, “Oh! You must have been sent from heaven. I just arrived here from New York City last night. I’m staying here with my friend and I have a week to find a place to live.” I got so excited that I failed to give him my card or obtain his name and phone number, and instead ran home to tell my boyfriend about my luck. Later that evening I returned to the house and left a note under the door. We closed on his condo – my first sale – about a month later.
That was in 1987. Still today, whenever someone chooses me as their representative or whenever a client reaches their end goal, the thrill is there. It always feels like the first time.
I am grateful.
Cynthia Cummins is a Top Producer and Partner at McGuire. For more information on San Francisco real estate visit CynthiaCummins.com.