Advice from A REALTOR®’s Daughter

LKR Agent guest post by Steve Sherman

Part of having a big family means it’s an all hands on deck experience for the parents. My wife and I have four kids currently aged 10 to 19. Usually, it’s a logistical miracle that our kids get anywhere they are supposed to be on time. From dance in Coralville, to baseball practice in Tiffin. Follow it up with youth group on Wednesday, don’t forget track practice and homework, then off to Volleyball on the East Side. It’s a busy life.

So when you add on top that you are a realtor with a constantly changing and fluid schedule…it’s over the top crazy!

Sometimes, the schedules overlap and being the youngest daughter of a realtor means you get dragged along to showings, open houses, negotiations and sometimes even a closing or two. It’s never bothered any of my clients that my youngest daughter, Sariah, has tagged along to whatever we were doing. She’s adorable, who would complain?

However, it’s provided an eye-opening experience for my little girl.

My Daughter and the Puppy Pad Incident

The first showing I ever took my cute 10-year-old assistant to was a buyer showing of an overpriced zero-lot in Coralville. The homeowner was supposed to be gone, but of course, she was not. The elderly lady let us in with my client and daughter in tow. We were first met with a strong smell as we entered the home and sadly it only got worse the further we went. The narrow hallway was full of fish tanks and plants, but that was not the most shocking part.

The homeowner held a sweet little puppy in her arms. She pointed to some “puppy pads” laying on the carpet in the hall and instructed us to “be careful” and step over the only slightly soiled pee pads! It looked the angelic little hound might have missed the pad a few times and gone right on the carpet. Oops!

My daughter cast me a sideways glance and I forced a smile. I had previously convinced her that being a REALTOR® was a pretty big deal. I could see that image was at risk. My client was plugging her nose as we quickly moved through the house. Dang it…she was pre-approved too!

Sadly, the pee pads were only part of the problem with this location. It didn’t take long, and we were on our way out. Needless to say, my buyer did not put in an offer.

After this experience my daughter had this advice if you want to sell your house:

“If you’re gonna try to sell your house, at least try to make it nice so the people like it. Don’t put “pee pads” on the floor because that is disgusting and maybe you should leave the house when people come to look around.”

Sound advice. She’s a natural.

My Daughter and the Old House

It was a few weeks before my daughter had to join me at work once again due to some familial logistical challenge. This time I was showing a buyer a prospective residence in a small Johnson County town. We were meeting my clients at the house and we got there just a little early as any good REALTOR® does. My daughter bit her lip as we looked at the dark and eerie two-story home built in 1901. The street light flickered, and the windows were foreboding as the place reeked of creepiness. I gave my girl a wink as we approached the nightmare on Elm Street. It was suddenly obvious why the price was so low.

No way out of it now. We were going to show this house no matter how imposing it looked. Never prejudge a property or a client!

We made our way to the front door with my cell phone flashlight leading the way. Of course, it wasn’t a Sentrilock card box, it was an old school lockbox. I wouldn’t have been surprised if the code was 666. Shockingly, the lockbox actually worked. I got the key out and began to unlock the front door. The entire door rattled as I shook and cajoled that lock to no avail. The old glass threatened to break as I hoped and prayed the door would unlock. No luck. The key wouldn’t turn. No amount of jiggling or rattling opened that lock.

I tried to smile at my girl as if this was a normal occurrence. She raised an eyebrow at my four-letter encouragements. Nothing helped. I called the listing agent. No answer, of course. My clients showed up as we still had not gained entry. I tried to act like a professional. I let them each have a try at rattling the key in the difficult eighteenth-century lock. No luck.

Finally, I gave up on the front door and began trying the other doors. My brave ten-year-old, not so happy she had to come to work with dad, following along like a trooper. Luckily, the back-slider-door was unlocked, and we were in. Nothing to it. I’m a full-service REALTOR®.

Once inside, the creepy abode lived up to its outward appearance. There were glimpses of lost beauty from an age long gone in the painted over woodwork, but mostly it was just horrible. My clients were trying to find ways to like it because the price was well under what they wanted to spend. The saying, you get what you pay for, comes to mind.

My shoulders brushed the walls on both sides as we went up the narrow stairs. The creaking wood of the hundred plus year old steps threatened to fail under my weight. As we ducked under low ceilings and door jambs that were no more than five-foot-eight we found a brick chimney exiting the roof right in the center of a room. It also had six-inch hole covered with an old china plate held on with a bungee cord, because why not?

I’d had enough. I knew this house was a no go for my clients whether they knew it or not. I had terrifying images of my client’s kids sleeping in this Amityville house! We were almost out when someone found the door to basement. I glanced down and say a single light bulb hanging on a wire. Perfect.

I heard myself saying, “I guess we might as well take a look and see what’s down there.” Famous last words from a million horror films.

My daughter followed me down. She’s brave like that. I’m six feet tall and I couldn’t stand up fully in the low dungeon. I expected to find a torture room or see an apparition at any moment. The ancient stone walls wept moisture providing a fine musty aroma. A massive antique boiler and outmoded electrical equipment dominated the room. In the corner was farm style pump for water and we noticed some dark stains on the rock floor. My daughter looked at the stains and shook her head back and forth. An animal had been using another corner as a restroom.

We quickly made our way up the stairs and were glad to be out in the dark yard.

I told my clients we would keep looking. They agreed.

Once we were back in the truck my daughter said, “If I had to live there, I would break out the windows and run!”

I could not disagree.

I thought it was good to let my little assistant see some old school locales! She didn’t really agree, but that’s the breaks. Sorry kid, your dad shows houses for a living. They’re not all quartz countertops, white wood work, and custom cabinets! I was pretty sure she might not ever accompany me again.

My Daughter and the Open House

Her next gig as the REALTOR®’s kid was a two-hour open house in a brand new 2500 square foot ranch home in Iowa City. It was beautiful, complete with granite countertops, a zero-entry shower, and a manicured lawn. What could go wrong?

Nobody showed up for an hour, so we busied ourselves making funny videos. She asked me if this is what I did when I went to work? I said yes…what do you think? With an eye roll, she displayed her opinion loud and clear.

I could tell she thought it was boring and worse. I gave up any hope of starting a Sherman Realtor Dynasty…how did Tom Lepic do it?

I asked my little critic, “If you are so smart…what do you think it takes to sell a house?”

She answered:

  • You need to be nice so the clients like you and trust you and they trust that you will get them a good house.
  • People need a good house. If it’s not clean when we come to look, it’s just like they don’t care about it. I don’t like it if its dirty. You should definitely clean it up.
  • You can’t live without a house, but people should fix their creepy basements!
  • Also, don’t let your dog pee on the carpet.
  • Next, always use my dad, because he will find you the best house to live a happy life!

Okay, full disclosure. She didn’t say number 5. I added that.

I can’t promise you a happy life, but I can promise I will do everything I can to find you the house you want at a price you can afford. It’s part of what we do at Lepic-Kroeger, REALTORS®!

If you’re lucky when we go to look at houses…you might get to enjoy my brilliant 10-year-old assistant with an adorable spray of freckles on her nose and some real estate wisdom in her brain!