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GQ Meets Banana Republic, Bottled Water Lunches and Real Estate Life

Real estate agents wake up every day, unemployed. We might miss a family dinner. We work weird hours. And sometimes lunch is a candy bar and a warm bottle of water in the car.

And yet…I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This is Why.

Marshall and Lori – Seven years ago, I got a call from a past client. An adorable young couple, Marshall and Lori. I had sold them their first house a few months past. Shortly afterward, he decided he would rather make a career in real estate than have a salaried desk job.

Honestly, I tried to discourage my young GQ-meets-Banana-Republic friend. I liked him and Real Estate is hard. Few agents make it long-term, and even then most that do still struggle with peaks and valleys of business.

We are lucky in this way. Our business is strong and steady, and almost all of it is by referral from past clients, but this is hard to build. We are super grateful for them.

(Please allow me to insert a big ‘Thank You’ to our crazy fan base of loyal clients who almost bully their friends into calling us. In turn, we will kill ourselves to make sure we over-deliver on their expectations and make them look good. We celebrate them the most this 2017. Thank you, doesn’t even cover it. Seriously.)

Our job is to make real estate look easy, but it isn’t. It’s taken years of doing the ugly side to build this business. You have to earn it. There are no shortcuts. You can’t buy your way into a referral-based business. And that’s exactly what I told Marshall, only I may have used other words.

Completely undaunted by my transparent assessment of the life of a real estate agent, he wanted to meet for coffee and “pick my brain” a little more.

I could see he was determined and I thought I recognized a budding glint of crazy in his eye, so I agreed. I devised a brilliant plan to let him shadow me for 30 days. I would show him the super unglamorous, unreliable, unpredictable inside view of real estate.

I gave him a desk right beside mine, a phone, and a stack of files, each about 6″ thick. I assigned him the ugliest part of my job–processing short sales. Hours on the phone with uncooperative banks and edgy clients. Two weeks tops, I thought, then he will be out of my hair…

Seven years and a baby girl later for him and Lori, I will have the pleasure of seeing him walk the carpet at our RE/MAX award ceremony and receive a fancy award for his achievements in 2017.Marshall and Gwen at the Awards Ceremony

My team will testify my bar is impossibly high. My heart feels a little investment in his success, too; a past client or not, I gave him no slack whatsoever. He’s good. He’s very good. And I could not be any more proud of him than I am.

Marshall Ultch, top 5% of real estate agents nationwide, husband to Lori, daddy to Lydia and another princess who will make her debut in April. He has made it.

This is Why.

Ryan and Allison – I did their first home buyer consultation before they were married. They are planners and very strategic in their decisions. We met, did a budget and created a plan to buy a house. They bought that first house right on schedule, shortly after they got married. We kept in touch, they got better jobs, saved their money, had a couple of kids, and a few years later…they were ready for their second house.

They did so well in their first purchase and by saving their own money that they were able to keep the first house as a rental property. It cash-flowed well, things were going according to plan. Just when they thought they might sell it, “The Bubble” hit. The rental property lost significant value (like every other home here in metro Detroit), and they could no longer sell it and break even.

Thankfully, they had good tenants. Every year since 2010, we did a market analysis to see if they could sell and break even that year.

Finally, this was their year. Not only did we sell it, but for a very nice profit.

A couple of kids and a dog later, they’re ready for house number three. They need a bigger yard, a nice rec room in the basement for the kids to play when they bring their friends over, and maybe even a pool!

I get to help make this happen for them. I’ve had the privilege of watching this beautiful family grow, overcome challenges and prosper for over 15 years. I smile every time I think of Ryan and Allison.

This is Why.

Dan and Kellie – A couple of years ago, I sold their cute little ranch that they had long since outgrown. They occupied every inch of that sweet little house and nearly bumped into each other at every turn.

Their house was super cute which made it an easy sell on my part, but emotionally, it was a difficult one for Kellie. That’s the home where they brought their babies home from the hospital. As a mom, I understood precisely her struggle. We had heartfelt conversations throughout the sale. Selling is sometimes hard on our clients. They need to move but love their current home. We frequently spoke about this struggle and became friends in the process.

Closings are the hard part for me. It is an abrupt ending after weeks of talking with people with whom I’ve grown very fond. But we stay in touch.

I got to see Don and Kellie again just last week. The kids are growing, and they are happily snuggled into the lovely colonial they bought and are enjoying the extra space it offers their family.

Now I have the honor of helping them through one of life’s sharp turns; the process of selling their family home since Dan’s mother just passed. Another emotional sale, but for a different reason.

I’m looking forward to walking this family through this estate process, taking as much off their shoulders as I can, in hopes I can make this time in their lives just a bit easier.

I can’t imagine ever getting tired or bored with what I do. So bring on the new agents and warm bottled water lunches in the car. I’m ready.

This is why.

Thank you, 2017.


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