by Cynthia Cummins
Cynthia is owner and founder of Kindred SF Homes and a top San Francisco Realtor. Check out RealEstateTherapy.org for refreshing reflections on the meaning of home and for more “best real estate advice” (since 2013).
Reading time: 2 minutes
Real estate is fun. To be more accurate, it’s funny. Especially for Realtors.
It’s flat-out funny. Like my assistant texting me “cross street Uranus.” Only it comes out “Cross street your anus” due to voice-recognition.
Or something that stings in the present becomes funny later. Like the seller prospect “Mary” in the avenues who says she prefers to discuss business over lunch at Whole Foods and insists I pick her up at 10 am and drive her there. She grabs a big chunk of salmon, a pint of scalloped potatoes and three dinner rolls from the to-go counter and selects two demi-bottles of white wine. While I’m paying for her meal I realize she is batshit crazy at best and criminal at worst. That $40 tab plus the loss of my precious time is not funny until a few days later when I learn that at least 6 other agents in my office have also taken Mary to Whole Foods for lunch.
Or the unexpected happens and there’s nothing to do but cry then laugh. An earthquake (on October 17, 1989 at 5:04 pm, I was badly parked in my idling Mercedes 190E at Sacramento and Battery, waiting for my client so we could go see property). An act of terrorism (I had a new listing debuting on brokers tour on September 11, 2001 and its price dropped $300,000 that morning.) A shelter in place order (the mayor of San Francisco announced our first covid-related shutdown on the afternoon of March 16, 2020, just as we were finishing up photography and videography on a listing that had taken 8 months to prepare for market).
Or it’s a recurring motif that sneaks up again and again like a pie in the face. The buyer who insists on offering 20% under asking (even in a multiple-offer scenario) because they read it somewhere in a how-to-real-estate book. The listing agent who calls to say they’re sorry they accepted a preemptive offer after promising they wouldn’t. The seller who doesn’t bother to email, call or even text with the news that they’re “going with” another agent despite the service you’ve given freely over a decade (vendor referrals, multiple market updates, finding them a short-term renter for a summer, and so on).
Despite all the industry effort aimed at turning homes into polished, containable commodities, they are inevitably occupied by human beings. For every perfectly presented Dwell-worthy “masterpiece” there’s a fixer-upper occupied by hostile tenants with hoarding tendencies who post signs on the front door, the windows and above every toilet that proclaim, “We live here and we’re not leaving.” (Okay, maybe that’s only ever going to be sad and frustrating.)
You get the idea. Selling houses for humans makes for raw and real adventures and calamities. When particularly pungent dog shit gets tracked onto the new white carpet in a Sea Cliff mansion, when the lender can’t close because they’ve run out of funds for the month, when your new listing is owned by a dominatrix who works from home — you can either cry or laugh.
As Suzuki Roshi said, “What we are doing here is so important, better not take it too seriously.”
Photo Credit: Park Troopers
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