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Introducing Alberta

by Jay on October 1, 2009

Occasionally I come across a question that I just don’t know how to answer without writing an e-book. My friend Alberta thinks it’s because I’m a typical insensitive male whose empathetic tendencies were dulled long ago…but she likes me anyway!

She’s agreed to tackle some of these questions for me when they come up. To say that Alberta has lived life would be an understatement. She’s had three husbands (one died, two divorced.) She’s got three children and six step-children and a few of them still talk to her. She’s not into politics much but thought Jack Kennedy was cute and voted for him. She’s lived in the Triangle most of her life except for a couple of decades on Long Island where her first husband owned a Oldsmobile dealership and a life insurance agency.  Before he died she kept his books and delivered checks to grieving widows and an occasional widower, which was how she met her second husband who moved her here when he was transferred by IBM.

Her prescription for most ailments is chicken soup. She doesn’t trust doctors much but did have a little “work” done on a trip she took to South America a few years ago. Most of what she knows about the technical aspects of real estate come from listening to my complaints during difficult transactions and from her third husband who was a closing attorney.

Alberta and I were sipping sherry one evening when I was musing about how to answer the following question. She said, “Honey,…let me take a crack at it.” So here we are.

Question: My husband got a great job in Nashville and left me behind to find a real estate agent, sell the house, pack up and move everything. I’ve talked to three agents so far and I’m really confused. They all seem so nice and they all had great advice about getting the place fixed up. One was a friend of a friend from church who’s only been in the business about six months. One sends everybody in the neighborhood cute Halloween cards every year with a picture of her and her dog in costumes and the other says she has sold lots of the homes in our neighborhood. I feel abandoned. My husband says they’re all alike and to just make a decision. What can I do?

Answer: Darling, your husband sounds like such a sweetie! He must be good at something to get the new job but have you noticed that men who are good at one thing think that automatically qualifies them to have an opinion on everything including childbirth?

He’s right about one thing though…on the surface they all seem alike. You don’t survive long in in real estate…or car sales…unless you can smile and be pleasant.

But whether you’re talking about agents or husbands, good relationships evolve after the courtship is over. Picking the right one is more about you than it is about them. What do you need?

The young lady who is new may be perfect for you. Even the best agents all started somewhere. They probably built their reputations working harder and keeping in touch. And boy are they grateful for the opportunity, just like we more mature ladies…Oh, never mind.

They might know more about this internet stuff too than some old crust that is still challenged by email. Unless you inherited your home from your rich uncle Rockefeller and think it will bring a million or two you may not get much service from your local queen of real estate.

On the other hand, if your home is weird in any way, you may want someone who has seen it all.

Weird can mean anything…too big for the neighborhood…the scene of a murder…custom built originally for a 7 foot basketball player who included a barn for his collection of antique firetrucks and a swimming pool in the shape of his size 17 sneaker… or something on the national historic register that still has the original coal furnace and a rusty tin roof. Pricing and marketing weird can be a challenge and having someone to help you who’s been around the block a few times with other weird stuff might be helpful.

I don’t know about the Halloween lady. Why Halloween? Why not Easter? She’s probably building her “brand.” Whoopee! You didn’t forget her cards after all, did you? A lot of agents these days are good at putting their pictures on bus stop benches and billboards and in your mailbox.

Honey, the key for you is what can they do to get your house sold. Finding clients is not the same as attracting buyers.

Sometimes you have to kiss a lot of friendly frogs to find your prince. Tell hubby you’ll take care of things here and that he better have a damn good buyer agent on the other end.

Alberta,

P.S. You’ll love Nashville. It’s not too far from Paducah Ky either, the Quilters Capital of the World.

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