We decided to sell our house in January of this year. I knew the economy wasn’t great. I knew the housing market was and has been in a state of chaos. You would have to be a mole who never comes out to not know.
As two self-employed people, watching cash flow is a huge priority. We knew selling would be challenging and until you go through the process in this environment, you really have no idea. A few sobering price adjustments and low and behold, it sold! (I’m eternally grateful to the universe.)
Our next step: Buy a house. With interest rates at an all-time low and house prices in general falling, conditions seemed ripe. Surely we could find a house and get a deal!
(This is where fellow self-employed peeps shake their heads because they already know what I’m going to say.)
The Lending Hurdle
What I didn’t anticipate was how hard it would be to get a loan. I’ll save the details for another post and because of this hurdle, I started to research other cities that seemed “more affordable”.
I was convinced we would relocate to Austin, Texas; position ourselves in a more stable local economy (Portland isn’t so great) and buy a house that didn’t need tens of thousands of dollars or additional work; maybe purchase a house for cash!
Time was short so I took action to find a realtor to get some information and expertise. I had no recommendations so I began my research online.
The Test: One Email
I found two realtors I liked from my experience of them on their websites. It was a shot in the dark and I was feeling desperate at the time. (I don’t recommend making decisions in a desperate state of mind.)
I wrote the same email to both realtors in great detail. I figured I might as well give them the details because it’ll come out sooner or later. Plus, I had to know if my thought process was even realistic.
Realtor No. 1
She had a classy, polished and very professional website. It was clean and approachable; slightly on the conservative side. Her association with a national company seemed to lend to her credibility. She had a ton of testimonials and those are what compelled me to choose her.
Realtor No. 2
She had a bit more personality and this very cool hummingbird that flew around the site. (I’m a sucker for hummingbirds.) The site was clean and was fun; playful. She also had some great testimonials.
Night and Day Responses
Within a day I received an email response from both realtors.
Realtor No. 1 was as cold as a fish. In a nutshell told me I wasn’t worth her time (read: your budget is way too low for me to bother). She even went so far as to tell me “not bother” and “It would be a complete waste of time”.
Realtor No. 2 was as warm as sunshine. She wrote me this lengthy, solutions-oriented email that made me feel like wow, this person can help us. She was optimistic and realistic. She explained the challenges and what to expect with our budget.
Service and The Circle
Naturally, I was taken aback by Realtor No. 1. It’s like that feeling Julia Roberts’s character (in Pretty Woman) must have had when she walked into that store on Rodeo Drive and the women basically told her just by appearance that the store “couldn’t possibly have anything” for her.
I kept my cool with Realtor No.1. (I really wanted to reach through the email and slap her) and simply wrote her back saying, “Thank you and I’ll get in touch with another realtor.”
Realtor No. 2 and I hit it off as if we had known each other for years. Even though we never met in person because we decided to stay in Oregon, I wrote her a testimonial for the service she gave us during this crazy time. When you are thinking of buying a house in a city you aren’t familiar with, the level of anxiety is even greater. She held our hand from afar, providing a great deal of emotional support.
You can take a wild guess who I would recommend in a heartbeat to anyone I cared about.