During real estate school in 2006, my instructor congratulated our class, saying that we had chosen a happy profession. When you get the buyer the keys to the home of their dreams, they are so excited, they will be your client forever and will send you many referrals. The seller loves you for selling their house at a profit, so they can move up to a better house. In real estate, you can work part time and make a full-time income! You will make many friends and everyone is happy to see you.
I was inspired to finish my class with a big grin and get my license in a big hurry. In less than 90 days I was a licensed Realtor. Armed with a license to sell houses, I hosted open houses for other Realtors every weekend, but no one wanted to buy these great houses.
Jen and Dave: One day, my phone rang. A friend of mine told me to call a family in Spanish Springs that would like to meet with me. Would I be willing to sell their house? Would I? An astounding yes!
I jumped into my car to take a look at the address my friend provided me. It a nice house in Spanish Springs, with a three-car garage on a one-third of an acre lot. I waited what seemed like an eternity for the family to call me that evening. What the homeowner told me was not happy at all. They moved here from Las Vegas after the husband was seriously injured at work, but his disability was denied. Jen works, but her income isn’t enough for the family of five and their two dogs. Dave’s medical expenses were taking a toll on their only income. They have not made a house payment since they bought the house nine months ago. The day before, a notice was posted to their door. What? What is going on? I signed up for a happy profession where I can work part time and make a great income!
I made my listing appointment for the next evening. I had no idea what to say to these homeowners. Real estate school did not prepare me for this. This was not going to be a happy experience for me, or for the homeowners. They would not be selling the house for a profit and the prospect of losing their home was an unhappy one.
The next night I showed up at 6 p.m. It was Halloween. Their three children were in costumes: The boy was a cowboy, and the girls were a fairy and a witch. I looked around; it was an average starter home, but it felt so sad and hopeless. I heard more of their story, about losing their job, health, a substantial income and now their first home. Tears came to their eyes. Their children hugged them tight and said, “We don’t want to move again.” These children lost so much when they moved from Las Vegas, losing touch of family and friends, and now this.
Fortunately, the parents were brave and stopped crying long enough to sign the listing paperwork and tell their children that they don’t have to move right away. That night I wished for some strong liquor to drown out the pain and sadness. I fell asleep feeling numb from the experience.
The next day, I turned in the listing to my broker. He couldn’t believe I was taking on a short sale. Short sales are complicated and stressful, but there were no other listings out there. I took that short sale in October 2006, before it was hip, and I have been short selling homes ever since.
Jen and Dave were brave and wise to short sell their home. They were realistic about their situation. They unloaded an unaffordable, overpriced home. Their priorities were their children, their health and the unity of their family. Shortly after short selling, they also filed bankruptcy. Today, they are financially healthy and debt-free. Jen works full time and Dave works part time. They will be able to buy again in the next two years. I babysit their three children occasionally so they can have a date night. Jen and Dave managed to survive and are moving toward a smaller, more affordable American dream.
Annie Christian is a real estate broker and owner of The Annie Christian Real Estate Group. She helps with everything from buying and selling to foreclosure and short sale. To submit a question, call 351-5117. Her website is www.anniechristian.com.