It’s December and, as the operator of my own business, it’s a good time to review my 2011 business year.

I have some testimonials given to me by some of my past clients. I’ve been reading over them and thinking about whether or not to publish them. What do you think?

Testimonials are an important form of feedback that Realtors can use to improve the quality of service they offer future clients. Some of the comments in the testimonials, while positive, caused me to ponder whether or not to offer them as evidence of the high standard of service I offer my clients.

One of them says:   “Thank you Amy for your dedication and resourcefulness in finding [me] the perfect house! Your cheerful demeanor lifted [my] spirits in the crazy days and kept [me] focused. [I] couldn’t have done it without you.”

Crazy days? Do I want potential clients to ponder the meaning of “crazy days”?

A little background:  The person who offered me such high praise is a professional executive with very high standards. She must make good, solid business decisions quickly and confidently. She is accustomed to a great deal of responsibility in her professional life and expects equally great performances from those who work for her. As you can imagine, acting as her Realtor meant I needed to be on my toes.

During every transaction, there are moments my clients feel as if the purchase or sale of their home is no longer in their able hands. This occurs after an offer is carefully constructed and submitted to the Seller. Buyers really want to buy the property but their success lies in the hands of an individual, or individuals, they do not know. That can be nerve-wracking. When a property is put on the market and open for the public to see, and walk through, Sellers can sometimes feel as though their home is no longer their own. And that too can translate to a feeling that their home is no longer something they control.

We, as human beings, like to be in control. It is one of the qualities that makes us unique in a world full of living creatures. However it is also a characteristic that can make us feel unbearably frustrated. Out of control. And out of control can feel a little crazy.

There were periods during the transaction when the Buyer felt as though she was not in complete control of the transaction. Unfortunately, those brief periods when one party is waiting for a response from the other does feel like a loss of control. It really isn’t, because both parties to the contract are equally invested in the outcome. But when one cannot do anything to effect the conclusion of the deal until the other responds, anxiety can creep in and interject doubt where it needn’t be.

The person who gave me that testimonial is a person I like very much. She is elegant and decisive. She has a smile that can light up a room and poise that can feel intimidating. She is the consummate professional. I loved working with her and worked very hard to learn what she was looking for so I could find her the house that would produce the expression that lets me know my client is experiencing something she/he likes. And, after showing her about five properties, I found one that was absolutely beautiful, an hour after it hit the market, and our offer was the first one on the Seller’s desk. She got the house she wanted and I was elated to have been part of her process.

Thank you Jan.

Another client wrote:   “I recently completed a very difficult transaction and Amy was a huge asset to have on my team. There were some tough issues for me to think about. Amy went to so far as to tell me that if it were her, she would not buy it. That took integrity as she was the one what would lose out on a nice commission. I’d highly recommend that you give her a chance to help you with your property as that is what she will do. She not a body that just does as little as possible. She’s the real thing. I can’t recommend her highly enough.”

Okay. Do I publish this? I did, but I edited it a little. I don’t want people to think I walked into the property and said, “Ew! Yuk! No way. You don’t want this.” That’s not what happened.

A little background:   I adore this client. She is another professional and well-educated business woman. She was looking at a bank-owned condo that was located in a complex that was suffering greatly in one of the most badly affected areas (in the country!) by the foreclosure/sub-prime mortgage crisis. There was obvious deferred maintenance and other, myriad signs of an operating budget slashed to the bone.

The complex will recover because of its unique and very-desireable location. But in the short-term, I worried about my client’s investment. The bank that owned the property paid little heed to contract deadlines and the Condo Association seemed to do everything it could to drag its feet when it came to getting my client the Condo Association documents with Meeting Minutes included, required by law to be given to her within 7 days of her initial request. (In California) Fortunately, my client had purchased other condo units in other buildings and she knew when to persist. I was new to selling condos and the experience was like being thrown into the ‘hood’ of condo purchases.

This client is noble. She likes to purchase properties others do not want, rehab them, and rent them out. She is involved in the neighborhoods where her properties are located. She is the neighbor and landlord everyone would love to have in their neighborhood. She believes in community. I believe in all those things too, but the property she was considering needed so much extensive (and expensive!) work that the price hardly seemed worth it. However, the complex really, really needed my client to purchase that unit. It did. And she did. And I am so glad she did!

Thank you Troy.

A third client wrote:   “…without your bulldog tenacity, our land purchase never would have happened. We both thank you very much for all of your help.”

My “bulldog tenacity”? Oh my! Do I want potential clients to think I am a tenacious bulldog? Okay. In the defense of bulldogs, every bulldog I have ever met was wonderful and sweet, so I suppose I can consider this a compliment. Really.

These clients are an awesome couple. He has a remarkable and sometimes hairbending job and the Type-A personality to go with it. She is another ultra-professional business woman who also happens to be extremely talented in the I-can-learn-to-do-it-from-a-book department. She decided to tile the floor and the risers of their stairs while her husband was out-of-town on business, and it is one of the most beautiful tile jobs I have ever seen. I’m not kidding! It is perfectly level, the tile is wonderfully straight, and the mini-tile insets are gorgeous.These two are excellent at everything they do.

They wanted to purchase a 10-acre parcel with a home on it that was not habitable. The house on the property was breaking in half and slowly sliding down the hill. The bank was not yet aware of the state of the home and it was a short sale. The property had been purchased for $1.3 Million at the height of the market, when the house was all in one piece, but was now being sold for $250,000. This was in scorpion, rattlesnake, brown recluse, and tarantula country and all those creatures were making their ways into the living space where the Sellers were trying to remain until the transaction closed.

The Sellers were truly traumatized by the whole experience. Imagine it for yourself – you buy your dream house with the dream view and you begin your retirement in peace and serenity. Sure the price was a little steep…but you get to live here and wake up here every day! You decide the price is worth it. Soon, cracks appear. Within two or three years you hear loud cracks and thumps in the middle of the night as the roof trusses begin to unseat from the columns that support them. Huge gaps appear between walls and floor and soon you find rattlesnakes in your living room and tarantulas in your closet, living in your sweaters. The Sellers were very nice people and I felt terrible for them. No one should ever have to go through what they experienced.

Because of the state of the house, and the crash of the housing market, the retirement place they saved and saved for, and finally purchased, was worth only a fraction of its original value. They couldn’t live in their beloved home any longer. A city engineer was summoned to inspect the home. He condemned the home after a brief inspection saying it was, “…unsafe for human habitation.” There was no possible way for them to continue living in their home, and no possible way to sell it without short-selling it. So that they did.

My Buyers were the able and willing purchasers. There was one bank involved in the short sale and two loans. You’d think the fact that both loans were with the same bank would have expedited the process. It didn’t. Five months later and an untold amount of stress on the part of the Sellers, the Sellers moved to a beautiful and safe rental home in a golf course community with a view. It wasn’t his dream 10 acres of unspoiled grassy hills, but it was warm and safe and there were no unwelcome critters in their house any more. It was clear the Seller surrendered the gate code and keys to the disintegrating house under enormous duress. It was heart wrenching. He was leaving behind a wonderful dream for an uncertain future. My Buyers were amazing and compassionate. I was in awe of them both.

My Buyers had the house deconstructed by a charity that recycles or reuses every single salvageable piece. The house is gone and only a dirt pad remains. They plan to build their dream house there after the market improves. They have already consulted with and architect and are weighing their options. I have no doubt that whatever they build will be beautiful, level, and have footings that anchor the home deep underground in that hillside. And because Kris is playing an integral role in the design, it will be stunning.

My ‘bulldog tenacity’? Well, I think it is more accurate to say both the Selling agent (me) and the Listing agent (Laura) worked very, very hard on our clients’ behalfs. The waiting, the negotiating, the finessing of the banks, the requesting of our clients, was all very time-consuming and our efforts were often met with frustration. We had to submit, resubmit, and resubmit again documents to overworked and overwhelmed bank asset managers over and over again.

This was a team effort. Nothing less. It taught every single person involved precious lessons of compassion, patience, persistence, and understanding. I am a different person for having had this experience and I will use the lessons I learned to serve my clients to my highest capacity.

Thank you, for your ‘bulldog tenacity’ Kris and Bill. I couldn’t have done it without you.

There are valuable stories behind every transaction. Those stories are the jewels of my industry. Every person, every couple, every newly widowed or divorced, every move to upsize or downsize, each and every motive is deliberate and new and important.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these stories. The full names and addresses have not been revealed for obvious reasons. But, rest assured, the truly remarkable people are all real and the transactions did occur. And I am honored to have been part of all of them.