Real estate has been a very rough business lately. Sometimes I have to remind myself that working in residential real estate satisfies a basic human need for shelter. And don’t we live for the moments when we know we’ve contributed to make a family happy and safe?
One of my favorite memories concerns a family moving to Atlanta from Salt Lake City, Utah. The family had moved to Salt Lake as a job transfer and had expected good things. Unfortunately, they were dismayed to find that their children had difficulty making friends, weren’t invited to functions and weren’t included in play activities because of their religion. The husband eventually took a lower paying job in Atlanta to allow his family to be near other Catholic families.
The family specifically wanted to move into a new construction neighborhood so that everyone else would also be “new” to the area. We looked at homes and chatted with neighboring homeowners until we found the perfect home.
Closing was set for two days before Christmas. The buyers had planned on driving from Utah straight to the closing with the whole family in the minivan and “Santa Claus” was hidden in the back of the van. They would be camping out in sleeping bags for their first Christmas in their new home.
A week before closing, I received a call from the on-site agent at the new subdivision asking whether the buyers observed Christmas and what their plans were. I assured her that the buyers were eagerly looking forward to celebrating Christmas and shared their story. She said that the builder would like to give the buyers a Christmas tree since it would be so late after closing and the next day would be Christmas Eve. I thought this was extraordinarily considerate of the builder.
We arrived at the house for the walk-through before closing and I anticipated seeing a Christmas tree stored in the garage. The garage door opened – no Christmas tree. But when we entered the house, there was an enormous, brilliantly lit, fully-decorated Christmas tree in the family room complete with tree skirt, icicles and bubble lights! Candles were on the mantle and cookies in the kitchen! And the builder along with the neighbors we had chatted with while house shopping were peeking their heads through the front door and welcoming the buyers to the neighborhood. Tears and hugs were all around. The wife excused herself to call her mother and relate what was happening.
I honestly don’t remember if we finished the walk-through. The back wall of the house could have been missing and no one would have noticed. However, I do remember thinking, “and I get paid for this?”