I had two deals close last week, and they provided for two very different ends to the real estate journey for two couples.
Both were for single-family houses in the west end, and the houses weren’t actually too far from each other.
But the way the houses were left by the owners, and the way in which my two sets of clients found their new homes, were complete opposites.
You can only do so much to protect yourself from the thoughtlessness of others…
Well, it took almost thirty-five years, but I’m ready to quote my first bible verse!
And something tells me anybody looking through my Internet history would find it more shocking to see www.biblegateway.ca than just about any weird website involving a runaway teens, a tripod, and a lot of lost innocence…
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
Whether this has biblical and religious meanings to you, or whether it’s just something that makes sense, I find it to be incredibly logical, reasonable, and simple.
Of course, the world does not work this way, unfortunately.
We’d be naive to think that it’s so simple as to “do unto others as you would have them to do you.”
Wouldn’t that be great though?
In reality, few people live their lives with this in mind. And I’m not suggesting, in any way, shape, or form, that I’m an angel. But I do believe, to some extent, that you get out of life what you put into it. Perhaps that could be the title of today’s blog. Then again, we could also choose from any of these:
“Pay it forward.”
“What goes around, comes around.”
“Lead by example.”
“Take the high road.”
There’s a lot of sayings to describe simply “doing the right thing,” for the sake of either hoping the same would be done for you, or because the same was done for you.
And I see this a lot in my line of work when people sell their homes, and “let go” as somebody else takes over.
It’s an emotional process, and while you might have only experienced selling your condo, in which you lived for two years before moving on, you have to consider what somebody goes through when they sell their family home of 40-years.
It’s for this reason that many home-owners go above and beyond to welcome the buyers. And you would think that this mentality would simply be the default for a seller, but unfortunately, not so.
Last week, I had buyers close on a house in the west end, which they purchased by “beating out” nine other buyers on offer night.
They paid pretty penny, but they were ecstatic nonetheless.
During one of our purchaser visits, we actually met the owners, and chatted with them about the house, the neighbourhood, and their children.
So it was rather surprising, after that meeting, to find the house in less-than-stellar condition upon closing.
My buyers got out of their car last week, with the keys in an envelope from their lawyer, and walked up the front steps, only to find that the mailbox was gone.
I’ll be honest – I have never in my career thought to include the mailbox in an Agreement of Purchase & Sale, but then again, it’s a fixture, so it doesn’t need to be included. Topic for another day, however…
My buyers opened the front door, and the alarm went off.
The alarm. Really.
For some odd reason, the sellers didn’t discontinue the alarm monitoring, but for an even stranger reason, they set the alarm when they locked up for the last time.
Maybe that was an honest mistake, who knows. Maybe they actually thought they were doing the buyers a favour…
After the alarm chimed, beeped, then set off, they called the monitoring company and sorted it out. Thank God the police never showed up, as that would have really capped their Wednesday evening.
They took a walk through the house, and one of the first things they noticed was a massive gouge in the hardwood floor by the door. Not a scratch, but a gouge. Like a full centimetre deep, and 3-4 inches long. It was most likely the movers, and perhaps the sellers never even noticed. Right?
One of the knobs from a kitchen cabinet – in a newly-renovated kitchen, was sitting on the counter. My client picked it up, and walked around – looking to find the origin of the knob, and finally found the broken screw from which this knob was pulled. Just one more thing to fix…
They went downstairs to the basement and found, among other things, four bags of stones – like landscaping rocks, piled in the furnace room, next to three bags of ready-mix. Again, perhaps the sellers figured that the new buyers wanted……concrete and rocks? Or perhaps they were just too lazy to move 200 KG worth of garbage.
But there were also some old picture frames, a sewing machine (which was broken), and skis that Stein Eriksen’s grandfather might have used, so unless the sellers thought the buyers were going to cement those skis into a stone-wall in the basement, I’d say they knew they were leaving garbage behind.
Perhaps these items were all minor.
Perhaps everything that was “wrong” with this house, upon closing, was minor.
But the salt in the wound is that the sellers knew what they were doing, especially when they unscrewed all the towel racks in the bathrooms – all three bathrooms. Who the HELL takes a towel-rack? What did that cost – maybe $20?
It’s cheap, petty, and thoughtless.
Actually, no, it’s not thoughtless, at least not by definition, since the sellers thought, “I’m going to head to the basement, get out my tool kit, take out my philips-head, and unscrew the toilet-paper-holder in the main floor powder room, then pack it up to take to our new house.”
A broken knob here, a gouge in the floor there – but it’s the fact that the sellers didn’t care, that hurts the most…
Less than two kilometers away, I had another young couple closing on a house, and their “big day” was a lot more favourable.
My clients opened the front door and were met with a banner that read “WELCOME HOME,” hung by the sellers. It was a nice touch; actually it was an absolutely beautiful and thoughtful thing to do for somebody walking into their new home for the very first time.
My clients said it actually kind of spooked them at first, as they saw something out of the corner of their eye, hanging down! But it made them smile, and one of my clients said, “It gave me butterflies! I haven’t felt that in the bottom of my stomach for a long time!”
They went through the house, and on the dining room table was every single user manual, all stacked neatly and labelled. The fridge, microwave, dishwasher, stove, washer/dryer, flat-screen TV, wireless router (which was not included in the Agreement but was left behind by the sellers), and sump pump.
There was also a list of contact information for everybody who had worked on the house. The name of the garage door installer, and maintenance guy. The company who cleaned the eavestroughs. The kids who painted the front porch. The custom-closet installers. The hardwood flooring dude…
There was even a short bio on the neighbours! The names of the families on both sides of the house, and their contact information.
The entire house had been professionally cleaned before closing, at the seller’s expense.
But the fridge wasn’t totally empty. There was a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, two chilled champagne glasses, and a hand-written note in an envelope attached to the bottle of bubbly.
The seller filled out just about the entire card with well-wishes.
You know the term “move-in ready?” And how over-used it is? Well this house was really, truly, move-in ready, with everything the buyers would need.
All the paint used in the house was sitting in the basement furnace room, with the codes written on top, and an itemized list of which paints were used in which rooms.
The racking and shelving in the storage closet in the basement was left behind. It could have been packed up and taken, but the sellers thought it just seemed to “work” with the space, and should remain.
You could just feel the warmth and care in this house, and know that the people who lived there were good people, who wanted the new owners to pick up where they left off.
It’s not about a “free” shelving unit or wireless router, but rather the passion of the previous owners for the house that they called home.
It’s basically the opposite of the old salt-shaker routine in the diner.
You know your friend (we all have one…) who unscrews the lid on the salt shaker, after his meal, right before he leaves? He’s anticipating that the next guest at that table, in that diner, is going to pick up the salt to shake a little on his eggs, and then WHAM! Instant meal-ruiner, as the salt covers that poor guest’s meal.
But your friend never gets to actually witness that event. So what’s the point? Why does he do it when he can’t see it happen?
Well, because he’s the complete opposite of the people who go out of their way to leave a house in amazing, impeccable condition, for new owners who they’ll never see, and never hear from again. They’ll never get to witness the smile on the new owners’ faces when they see that “WELCOME HOME” banner in the front hall, but they do it anyways, because it’s means something to them. Or because they’re good people. Or both.
“Do unto others as you would have them do to you.”
It doesn’t speak to me from a religious standpoint, but it does seem quite logical.
If you believe that “what goes around, comes around,” then you might actually seek to do unto others as you would have them do to you, on a regular basis.
Last weeks’ events were such an incredible juxtaposition – with one client calling me to rave about the previous sellers’ thoughtfulness, and the other client calling me to ask what they were supposed to do about the gouge in the floor – that I couldn’t help but be amazed at the different paths people take.
So the next time you sell your home, and prepare to leave it for the last time, just wonder how you would like to find it…….or find the home that you’re heading to after you leave….