Unless you’ve been in Real Estate, you most likely don’t know what it’s like. There is much more to it than simply showing houses to prospective buyers. Most people have a very inaccurate vision of what is involved. I know I didn’t realize how much else could happen, or how much the business had changed over the years. One way to find out about Real Estate without actually getting into the field is to talk to someone who is currently working there, or who has in the past.
Human Diaries would like to present Maureen Inglesby, a very successful and personable Keller Williams Realtor that I have had the pleasure to meet. We asked her to share her story, and hope you enjoy it.
I have been in Real Estate since 1993. I married a 40 year old bachelor. I was 39. I had 5 teenagers and my Mom living with me. We each sold our 3 bedroom homes and bought a 6 bedroom stone colonial in Drexel Hill, so there would be plenty of room to move around. The house was fabulous…but it started to become the money pit. Every time we did a project, there was a follow up project right after.
My husband decided that he was going to get a second job to help recoup the money that had been going out. I felt bad, and said that I would also do something on the side. I had been a teacher for many years. My job at the time, though, was doing training and evaluating for a large Philadelphia-based company. I always thought Real Estate would be interesting, so I took myself in to a small Century 21 office just a few blocks from where we lived. I took the classes, passed the test the first time out, and put my license with Century 21 Reber. I became Rookie of the Year my first year, and top producer mostly every month.
It was a small company, and I needed to spread my wings, so, after several years, I moved to a large Century 21 office. While there, I became the Top Agent in the office and for the Region many times over, a Centurion Award winner and was also inducted into the C21 International Hall of Fame.
After 17 years at Century 21, I came to Keller Williams Main Line Realty to form a Team. I have many times been a top agent at KW and in the Region as well, most recently #3 in the Region in December, 2014.
The unique aspects of Real Estate are that there are no two transactions that are alike. There are no buyers or sellers that are alike. How I deal with them is never the same. Each sale or listing is unique. I like that! It never gets boring…and I continually learn something with every transaction.
I am never satisfied with my accomplishments. I am always moving to a new tier in my career, a new way to help the communities I service, a new group to join, etc.
As for the future, I have 6 grandchildren now. I really enjoy being with them. I would like to travel more with my husband. However, I do not plan on retiring from Real Estate. I love it too much. I so enjoy the clients I have worked with, some a few times over. I am selling homes to third generations now. I am working with buyers that I taught in kindergarten!
In 5-10 years, I would like to turn my business over to another Realtor, or team of Realtors, who would benefit by my reputation and client base, and continue to work with that person or team to enhance their business …and mine.
People, many times, choose me as their Realtor because they know my reputation. As a listing agent, I am a staunch supporter of my sellers. I have sometimes been called aggressive, or relentless. I prefer the term “assertive”. I want what my client wants. I do not want anyone to take advantage of my seller client. I am fair. I am realistic. I am knowledgeable about the markets I serve. I give my sellers a “honey do” list to help make their home more sale-worthy and worth more too. It really makes a difference. I do a two-part listing. The first visit is to get to know the clients and take a tour of the property. The second is to spend a few hours on what ingredients are needed to get a home to sell, what competition do we have, and in what price range should we be. I do not tell them what they want to hear in some cases, but I am being realistic. They appreciate that.
As far as my buyer clients are concerned, they are many times referred to me from their friends and relatives who have worked with me to find a home. They know that I will be there for them, negotiate for them, be there to answer their questions and find out information for them. I leave no stone unturned on the road to settlement. I try to make the process as seamless as possible through continual follow up with the mortgage and title companies as well.
Some advice I have for sellers is to contact a Realtor ahead of time to give you advice on the market and some projects you may want to do to make your home sell quickly and for the best price. Have that meeting BEFORE you start working on projects. You may be spending time and money on things that are not going to help, and ignoring the things that would make your home sell better.
Do not get angry at Buyers who make a low offer on your home, or who ask for a seller assist. They make low bids just to see how you will react, and determine your bottom line. Most times, it all can be negotiated. The buyers, most times, truly need some financial help toward their closing costs. They have a lot of debt from college loans and such. They, most times, do not ask for an assist just because they can. This is a different financial world from the one you lived in. They love your house…and you want to sell it! That is the plus!
For buyers….Do not start looking on the internet in earnest, go to open houses or visit homes until you have gotten pre-qualified! It is a waste of your time and everyone else’s to view properties before you know what you can afford and feel comfortable with. If you found “the one” and then discovered afterward that you could not afford it, or that something is looming on your credit report, you will spend many a night crying yourself to sleep. Have that pre-qual in your back pocket, and you can go out to view homes with a peaceful mindset.
Choose a Realtor and sign that Realtor up to be your Buyer Agent…one who will be there for you and with you, joined at the hip. That Realtor will be your “person”.
Always have the home you offer on inspected. This is your one chance to really know the good and not so good things about the house. You will also learn how the utilities work, right down to how to change the filter on the heater.
If you get outbid by another buyer, you will be disappointed. However, in the end, the home you actually buy will be as good as…or better… than the one you lost! I guarantee it!
I have learned that the world is full of all different kinds of people with all different needs. I have to adjust my ways to their ways so I can better assist them. I have learned that almost everything can be negotiated, if level heads prevail.
When I got into Real Estate in the early 90’s, there was an MLS book in the office that people would come in to look at. They would flip through pictures in the book that had three to a page with one picture of each home, and a small paragraph about the houses. It was in black and white.
There was no internet to speak of. The copies we made were on mimeograph paper with blue typing.
In a couple of years, we got a printer that printed out the sheets on the house. The pages were all in a long line, and we had to pull them apart and take the edges with holes in them off too.
There were pagers. When you got paged, you would go to a phone booth to make a call. You needed lots of change. Shortly thereafter, we thought we died and went to heaven when we could use a phone card to make calls in the phone booth.
Open houses were the only way for a buyer to see a house if the buyer did not want to work with an agent right away.
When cell phones came out, they were very large and came in a bag. They did not have much battery life.
Title officers wrote out the HUD-1 settlement sheets in pencil, and erased when necessary. When they went to ink, they still prepared the sheet in their own handwriting, and used correction tape to change the figures.
When we showed houses, we had to go to the individual office to pick up keys for the homes we wanted to show. We would be thrilled if the homes to be shown used the same company, because it was less running around. Then, after the showings, we had to take all the keys back.
When we wrote an offer, we hand delivered it, and the other agent would hand deliver it back after it was signed. There were far fewer pages to the agreement. When I first started, there were no sellers disclosures. Few people did a home inspection.
Things sure have changed in 20+years!
There are many, many humorous stories I could tell. I keep thinking I could write a book. Two stand out.
In 1997, I had elderly sellers in Overbrook who were too old to walk their dogs, especially in the colder weather. So…they let them do their business in the unfinished basement, and they hosed out the basement every third day. The buyer was from Africa. He liked the house. He saw the house on a nice day in May. We wrote an offer on the hood of my car on Memorial Day. The day of the inspections, it was hot and humid. The house, especially the basement, smelled. The buyer said that he would not go through with the sale unless the smell was gone. The sellers bought a rancher in Drexel Hill. I went to a janitorial supply place and bought a heavy duty industrial cleaner. After they moved out, the two nights before settlement, I got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the basement floor…twice, while blasting my radio to keep me going. Luckily, there was a nice breeze and low temps on settlement day. All went fine. The buyer is still there.
In 2005, I had a listing in Gladstone Manor in Lansdowne. The sellers were up there in years. They were very old fashioned and very Catholic. They owned a religious goods store in Center City. They were acquaintances of my parents. They were quite set in their ways.
The young buyers who put in an offer were both attorneys. They lived in an apartment complex called Gladstone Towers, which was very close to the house. The house was on the north side of the Gladstone Train station, and the apartments were on the South side. They used the train to get to work in the city.
The buyers were not married at the time they put the offer in. The sellers, devout Catholics, would not accept their offer because they were not married. The other agent and I got creative. We arranged a luncheon for everyone, so they could get to know each other better, and to help the sellers change their minds. It worked. In conversation, they grew to like the young couple and, when they heard that they were planning to be engaged soon, they signed the offer.
The home inspection was on a cold, bleak and dreary day just after a snow and ice storm. Travel was difficult. The sellers had moved to an apartment. Mr. Seller insisted that he be at the house for the inspection. I picked him up and drove him there. He had emphysema and carried an oxygen tank with him at all times. He sat for the entire 3 hours on a folding chair in a vacant house that was a bit chilly. After the buyers, the agent and inspector left, Mr. Seller said he needed to use the bathroom…on the 2nd floor. I helped him up the steps. Half way up, he had an accident. There wasn’t even a toilet paper roll in the house.
I begged him to stay put. I had to leave him there, and drive to the apartment to notify Mrs. Seller and to get some cleaning products and some fresh clothes. When I found her in the laundry room of the apartment, and she didn’t see her hubby, she panicked. I told her what happened, and that she would need to come back to the house with me. By now it was around 6 pm and the roads and sidewalks had gotten icy.
We pulled up into the driveway. Because the house was vacant, it was easy for the smell to permeate throughout the house. She walked through the kitchen door, took one whiff, and promptly threw up all over the kitchen floor! I had to clean her up with the paper towels and rags I had brought from the apartment. She then went up to take care of her husband and help him put on fresh clothes, while I cleaned up the kitchen.
When we were ready to leave, I knew I could not handle both of them on the ice at one time, so I took her out to my car. We slipped and slid to the car. I then went back for him. As I was walking him out, he said, “Don’t say anything to my wife, but I have run out of oxygen in my tank.” Oh no!
I hurried him as best as possible to the car, drove back to the apartment 10-15 minutes away, with him in the front seat breathing heavily. I suggested we take a detour to the hospital, but he would not hear of it. He told her when we drove up to the main door of the apartment that he needed his other tank. I took her upstairs, grabbed the tank, and brought it down to him to hook himself up, so he could walk into the apartment.
I got home after 8:30, said good night to my husband and family, and went right up to bed. I was absolutely exhausted!
At the time, it certainly was not funny, but when I tell the tale all these years later, people do chuckle.