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Wacky & Funny Firsts

.Good or bad, your first transaction is always memorable. Let’s take a trip down memory lane to find out what crazy things happened during these first transactions.

Do you cringe at the thought of your first transaction, not willing to believe you were ever as naïve or nervous as you really were? Or, did you luck out with a smooth sail the very first time? That first transaction might best be relegated to the past, brought out only to enjoy a light moment and to appreciate the reality that not all transactions are the same.

While one sales associate faced up to a naked, inebriated seller, another lingered with a buyer in a home that he later discovered wasn’t even on the market. Still another spent a weekend in a “Keystone Cops”–style chase for keys and papers for her customers. And another left her first listing presentation feeling elated, only to have her mood flattened by a tire mishap.

Thinking back to their first transaction with a buyer or a seller, these Florida sales associates share their stories. Perhaps these will bring back a fond or not-so-fond memory of your first transaction, or a sigh of relief that it was nothing like these!

Meet the Parents
About 20 years ago, when I first started in the real estate profession back in the Boston area, I showed a young engaged couple a real fixer-upper. It was priced well within their extremely small budget, however, I was quick to point out that this home would need lots of TLC, as well as electrical, plumbing and roof repairs.

They made an offer, which the seller subsequently accepted. We set the inspection date and time for a few days later, on a Saturday morning.

At the appointed day and time, both sets of parents of the prospective bride and groom showed up with the happy couple, eager to show off their new purchase to their parents. What I did not know, however, was that the two sets of parents had never met and that they had chosen the occasion of the inspection to meet for the first time.

All was pretty quiet during the inspection, as the inspector dutifully told the young couple of all the defects. After about two and one-half hours of defects, we all met in the kitchen. I, as an eager-to-please sales associate, asked the father of the bride what he thought of the property.

His answer rings in my ears to this very day. In his most protective, authoritative voice, he exclaimed, “Over my dead body will these kids buy this house!”

At that point, the sale collapsed, as did my ego, along with my very first commission. It was an almost-transaction I shall always remember!

Arnold Kaufman, GRI
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate Inc., Mainland Office, Venice

Helpless Becomes Helpful
When I started my real estate business, I worked very hard designing my marketing brochures and fliers and preparing my mailing list. Finally, a young man called me from Missouri to ask if I could help sell his father’s home in Fort Lauderdale.

The young man said, “Please take care of him. I’m very worried because he’s alone.” I replied, “You’re talking with the right person, I will take care of him.”

I customized my listing presentation with pictures of the home. I can’t tell you how excited I was going to my first listing presentation.

The day came, I knocked on the door, and a nice old man opened it. His dog almost ran out, and the man fell when he tried to grab the dog, so I helped him get up. I introduced myself, and we sat at the dining table.

The listing presentation was fantastic; he signed the contract and walked me out the door, where we found my car had a flat tire. There are no words to express how embarrassed I was, but he immediately told me, “Don’t worry.” He took tools from his garage and bent on his knees to remove the flat tire and put on the spare.

In return, the next day I took him out for lunch, and I told him that I was very grateful for his changing my tire. He said, “I enjoy when I am given the opportunity to be a gentleman.” After all, I agreed to assist this “helpless man” when, in fact, I was the one being helped!

Rosa Maria Victoria
Coral Shores Realty Inc., Fort Lauderdale

The Buyer Is Always Right, Even When the House Is Wrong
When the market was red hot in early 2005, my customer and I made offers three times on villas that turned out to be under contract by the time we submitted our offer. One had gone under contract after being on the MLS only 19 hours! The listing agent for another villa that we bid on explained that while it was under contract, he had another listing coming up within the week and my client and I could have a first look before it even went on the MLS. He really talked up the superior condition of this villa versus the one we had just lost in bidding.

He gave us the address, and we went to see the unit. The lockbox wasn’t where he had said it would be, but I thought nothing of it because the front door was unlocked. We announced ourselves and no one answered, so we entered and spent about an hour looking into all the closets and cabinets, and inspecting everything. We talked about how this unit was nicer than the previous one, even though it wasn’t the spectacular model type that had been described.

I sat down at the table and wrote out an offer while my buyer lounged around on the leather sofa and poked through the bathrooms. After about an hour, we left the unit just as we had found it. I went home and faxed over the offer.

The next day, we went back to take a second look after the other associate told us the price had gone up $10,000, and my customer wanted to see if she wanted to match the new list price.

We knocked on the door, and a very nice, grandmotherly woman answered.

Odors of spicy Caribbean food flowed out the door while the woman smiled and invited us in. We began looking around again, and I mentioned something about buying the villa. The woman was surprised. She said it wasn’t hers but a relative’s, and she was sure it was not for sale. I was startled as well. I quickly called the other sales associate, who confirmed that we were one street off even if the villa number matched.

My customer and I were horrified at the thought of having spent over an hour in the wrong villa, browsed all over, sat at their table, written an offer for a unit that wasn’t even for sale and not having even been challenged. After we apologized profusely and left, we began to laugh. We laughed and laughed and laughed. That was about the only thing we could do. 
In the end, the buyer didn’t buy either villa. So much for my first transaction!

Eddie Velie
Century 21 Tropical Springs, Coral Springs

Where’s Waldo?
Picture this—a sales associate and the listing office’s office manager searching a closed real estate office with a flashlight, hoping to find the keys for the buyers, who had closed on a home the day before. After numerous phone calls, they located the keys.

The next day, the sales associate met with buyers’ family members to present the keys. Then, the second part of the hunt began. I was told the garage door openers would be in the garage. Unfortunately, four adults and two children were unable to locate them.

The hunt continued the next day, with us in pursuit of the garage door openers. After learning from the selling office that the openers might have been placed in the garage door light, I opened the door to gather them up and found a man [who was doing some work in the home] screaming in pain that he was passing a kidney stone! “‘Should I call 911?” I asked.

He informed me that his wife had been called and was on her way.  As far as he knew, he said, the garage door openers should be hidden in the light of the garage door.  “Just pop the lid off, and you should find them!” he said. Sure enough, that’s where they were.

Next, the hunt continued, with a search for the homeowners’ documents. Again, the selling office contacted the listing agent, who was on vacation, to ask the whereabouts of this important information. The listing agent stated that the documents were being sent from New York.

Finally, the homeowners’ documents were delivered to our office, and it was then that I realized I was the winner of the scavenger hunt. It took total focus and commitment to provide my buyers with all they were entitled to.  This was my first sale!

Sue Swanson
Century 21 Baytree Realty, Melbourne

Beginner’s Luck
While I was on floor time on my first day as a sales associate in 1986, a man called and asked to see condominiums on the Intracoastal in West Palm Beach. I arranged a day of showings and the buyer found one he liked so well, that he wanted to make an offer right away. So, we sat down at a table next to the condominium’s pool, and I wrote my first contract. It was a $30,000 cash offer [obviously, this was a long time ago!], to close in 30 days. Later that afternoon, with the assistance of my broker, I made the offer to the seller, and the seller accepted it.

My broker and the other associates in my office were totally surprised (as was I) that my first sale was to my first customer on my first appointment of my career! We all agreed that it was beginner’s luck, but also a sign of better things to come.

Sharon Gabriel
Gardens Choice Properties, Palm Beach Gardens

The Nakedly Ambitious Seller
About 23 years ago in Fort Lauderdale, I had my first floor call as a brand new sales associate with Merrill Lynch Realty. The buyers were a couple looking for a low-rise oceanfront condo. I ventured up the coast with them that day, and found the perfect community to fit their needs.
We looked at units listed in the MLS, and as we were leaving to have coffee and write an offer, the buyer looked over my shoulder and saw a For Sale by Owner sign. I got up the nerve to knock on the door, and was greeted by an elderly woman, who invited me in to talk with her. She was very friendly, but naked! I asked if we could see the condo and requested she get dressed so I could invite my customers inside.

The woman also appeared to be intoxicated, but I wasn’t sure. The couple loved the unit, and we left to write an offer. When I returned, the owner was indeed intoxicated and, again, naked. I couldn’t have her sign the contract in her condition. I wanted to make sure she understood what she was signing. I had to return five times until I found a day when she was sober. And, she was naked on all of my subsequent visits. Only reluctantly, and at my request, did she put on clothing for property inspections.

She changed her mind every other day about whether she was actually selling the home or not, but she eventually agreed to sell. Fortunately, she did not attend the closing. That was my first sale, and one I will never forget!

Brooke Bass, MBA, GRI
Keller Williams Premier Properties and Development, Gainesville

Who Said Selling Real Estate is Hard?
My first transaction was about four years ago, when I received a floor call on one of the listings that the caller had seen on our Web site. I told him what I could about the property, never having seen it myself. With that information, along with the virtual tour that he had seen online, the caller decided to buy it sight unseen.

He was calling from Washington, D.C., and was relocating here, but didn’t have time to come down to see the home.

The offer, contract and everything else was done via fax. It was stressful because it was my first sale, but in retrospect, the easiest because I never even took him out to look at properties!

Bill Knowles
Century 21 Hansen Realty, Fort Lauderdale

Making the Jump
The year was 1971. I had been licensed (in Ohio) about six months and was working part time when I received a call from a friend of my father’s. He told me that he needed to sell his property because he was being transferred to another city.

We had been talking a while when he said, “You aren’t full time in real estate, are you?”  I told him no and then proceeded to explain why and what my plan was for becoming a full-time agent. His reply was that he felt he needed someone who was in the business full time. 

I asked “If I was a full-time agent, would you list your property with me?”  He said that he would. I told him I would be full time in one week.  I left my current job, announced I was full time and got the listing.  I’ve never looked back.

Dean Hunter
Michael Saunders & Co., Bradenton

Michele Lerner is a Washington, D.C.-based freelance writer.