"It's a Wonderful Life" with Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed is probably my favorite movie of all time. I try to watch it every Christmas season at some point. Sometimes I get around to it, and sometimes I don't. It always helps me to put things in perspective very quickly. The way that I conduct myself is important, not just to my immediate friends and family, but to others that are affected by my actions, such as my clients and even those whom I come in contact with on a daily basis in any capacity. As long as we are here, our lives have an impact.
Although sometimes the real estate market is tough, I know that my role is an important one, and so is yours. As agents who care about our clients, we are an integral part of this industry, and as a whole we play a vital part in keeping the U.S. economy afloat. So, what if we didn't exist at all? This is the premise for the movie, and I thought it would be interesting to explore this idea in a blog post. This is my 150th post on Active Rain, and what better way to commemorate this? I thought it might open up some interesting discussions.
Just in case you are among those who haven't seen "It's a Wonderful Life" (i.e. you live under a rock), in this Frank Capra film from 1946, Jimmy Stewart plays George Bailey, a regular guy who decides to end his life because of financial failure caused primarily by evil town miser Mr. Potter. George was born and raised in Bedford Falls, and he had big dreams, but he was thwarted and finally came to the conclusion that his family would simply be better off without him.
The townspeople all pray for George that night, and a guardian angel named Clarence is sent to help show him just how much impact his life has had. He accomplishes this by showing him how the lives of his friends, family and acquaintances would have turned out if he had never been born. I have yet to watch this movie and not cry with joy at the end.
As a broker here in Austin, I have often wondered whether my services were important or not. I strive to handle my business as an actual service, meaning that I try to help my clients to make decisions that will benefit them in the long run. Is this really as generous as it sounds? Probably not. I am also trying to support a family of five with my sales, so the line between service and business sometimes gets a bit blurry.
Applying the great lessons from this movie, however, helps me to prioritize a bit. Imagine the following scene, with my own personal "Clarence" guiding me:
ME: Who is that woman? Why does she look so distraught?
CLARENCE: That's Mrs. Campbell.
ME: But Mrs. Campbell sold her house and downsized. The last time I saw her, she had an ear-to-ear smile. This woman looks devastated.
CLARENCE: You weren't there to help her sell the house, and she ended up with an agent who didn't know how to help her. Eventually, the bank took her home. She was forced to move in with her grown children, and they don't like having her around.
This is but one brief example. Here's another:
ME: What's going on here? Why are Jake and Sarah Sanders so unhappy?
CLARENCE: You weren't around to advise them on which builders and loan programs to stay away from, so they bought a home with Cheapo LLC. The home is falling apart and Cheapo didn't warranty anything. Now they desperately want to sell, but they are stuck with this overpriced lemon. Their loan amount is too high and they can't sell.
You can clearly see that as a sharp agent you have the ability not just to affect the market, but to affect the LIVES of others. Take this responsibility seriously. You wield some measure of authority as a licensed agent. Although our profession has taken some hits with regard to integrity and trustworthiness, those of us who look at the big picture will continue to assist our buyers and sellers as they make hard decisions. This concept most certainly also applies to mortgage professionals.
So, keep in mind that although things may seem difficult at times, you are making a difference. It really is a wonderful life.