We suffered a big loss this past fall. Our longtime friend and realtor Kevin O’Brien passed away suddenly. A heart attack. He lived alone.
It was devastating.
Devastating first because he was a long time and true friend and neighbor. Bethany had known him for many, many years before I came into her life. He was the first person who really made me feel welcome as part of the neighborhood crowd. I could go on and on about how wonderful, generous, thoughtful, funny and kind he was. A treasure. His loss was like a punch in the gut. It still stings even now as a write this. I don’t know if we ever had the chance to let him know how much he meant to our family. How much a part of it he was. I hope he knew.
He was also our realtor. Folks like us that have multiple properties and are always on the lookout for more have a closer relationship with a realtor than the average person. But, we’re also not even the average folks in that respect. We’re the one’s who will see a listing for some vacant rundown property, call up our realtor, and ask to take a look at it ASAP. Unlike some others who might be looking to quickly flip it or tear it down and develop it, we don’t do that. And, we may take you through a dozen or more of these over the course of a few years before we even decide to move on something. But, when we do move, we’ll move fast — make our best offer up front, little-to-no negotiation, have the funds ready to go, get the deal done.
But here’s the other thing that makes us strange, we’re not doing this for the money (though, it’s certainly involved). The things that guide us — moves the needle from slow to go — can be summed up with these: Property, Price, and Purpose.
Property — It has to feel right. We have to see not what it is but what it could be. We need to fall in love with that vision. We know that few if any other people will see what we see. That this was meant for us to see. A flipper will be looking at profit potential. A developer at the land and location. Someone looking for a simple fixer upper would likely run away from the typical one we’re interested in. We will know this one was meant to find us and we it. We will likely know it within 30 seconds past the threshold. We will know when we see it and feel it.
Price — Is this within a price we’re willing to pay for it? Sure. That. But also, how much will it cost to get it to where we believe it can be. We will see any got-ya that might be hidden to most. We will have already done our research and know how old the roof is, the sale and purchase history, the taxes, etc. We will do this math in our heads as we are walking through and know what our offer is going to be before we walk out the door. We will call our realtor within the next 24 hours or so with that number, usually offering all cash, no inspection, and a close closing date. The stick is that number will likely be lower than asking price but the carrot is we will make it as easy as possible to say yes.
Purpose — This is the big one. Here’s where things get a bit more nebulous and what separates us from most buyers. What is our purpose for doing this? Because, it’s not for the money and we don’t need another house. Is it to give an old house the love and care that has long been neglected? Is it to take a rough and turn it into a diamond? Maybe it’s to make the neighborhood— our world — a little better one house at a time. Maybe, because we want to provide a truly affordable house or rental housing to someone that needs or deserves it. Maybe, we just want to sell it to someone who will fall in love the same way we do. Money — the making of it — is never part of that purpose. It’s a byproduct of one or more of these other more lofty goals. The only purpose the money really serves for us is to allow us to do it all over again.
Kevin got this. Got it in the same way we do.
Any realtor we work with going forward has to understand this too. Many realtors don’t get it. They can’t understand why we do what we do. We’re in it for the long game, they want the short sale. Like any profession, certain realtors have their specialties. There’s the ones that only sell luxury. The ones who are good for first time home buyers. The ones who work with the investor/developer. With Kevin gone, I don’t know if there will be anyone for weirdos like us.
We met with someone else today. She seemed to get it. I have hope for the first time in months. I’m looking forward to seeing where this new relationship goes. No one will ever replace Kevin but, at least, we found a friend.