When I first read about the Blast from the Past contest that Melissa Grant recently announced, I knew that I wanted to enter. Then, I started to realize that it would be difficult to pinpoint one moment in my career to write about.
There was the time in 1998 when I was considering leaving the real estate business altogether because our money was so tight and I wasn't sure how long it was going to take to start making a regular income. My wife gently reminded me that there was not any other field for me with as much earning potential as real estate, or at least not one that wouldn't require additional credentials. Clearly, this was an important discussion, and one that I have never forgotten.
There were all of the occasions when I was able to spend an entire weekday with one or all of my children, simply enjoying them, listening to silly songs in the car with them, or taking them to their lessons and activities. A day at my office is a great and enjoyable field trip for any of them.
There were large checks that I have earned over the years, enabling my wife to homeschool our kids and stay at home with them since 2001. I feel truly blessed that real estate has provided this lifestyle for my family.
But this contest is about picking the most defining and profound moment in my career. One particular moment comes to mind:
We have some friends from church that we have known for many years, Josh and Dana. Josh used to be in a "Triad" group with me for over a year. The Triad was a group of three men (myself and two others) that met weekly in my home to share our struggles and triumphs, and to pray and study together. I can unequivocally say that this affected my relationship with God in a very positive way, and I grew spiritually in that 15-month period of time more than ever before or since.
Needless to say, I got to know Josh extremely well, and I would hear about his married life each week (they were newlyweds at the time). He shared several times with me that his father-in-law was a serious alcoholic, and we would pray about his in-laws sometimes.
Not long after our group stopped meeting due to outside commitments that squeezed our time too much, I was at church and our pastor announced that Dana's father had passed away a few days before at age 46. To hear the story, it sounded as though he essentially drank himself to death one night.
I saw Josh and Dana there in the service, and I spoke with them afterwards in order to offer my condolences. As we were talking, Dana mentioned that her mom would have to sell the house as she couldn't afford the payments by herself. I didn't hesitate to tell her that I would be willing to help her mom and that I would do it for no commission.
A few days later, we met so that I could see the home and help her to identify which things would need to be done before we put the home on the market. As you might well imagine, there were a number of deferred maintenance items. Additionally, the carpet badly needed to be replaced.
She did have a small amount of money to work with in order to get these things fixed, and we put the house on the market quickly. Thankfully, it also went under contract quite fast with an older couple who lived nearby, after several close calls with other buyers. While we were going through the contract process, I found myself often simply being a friend and a listener as she worked through a very difficult time. The closing went off without a hitch, and in less time than I had originally anticipated.
On the day after closing, Dana's mom called me to offer her sincere thanks, and to tell me that she left me a gift in the house after she moved out.
"Really? That's nice of you. What is it?", I asked.
"Well, you mentioned during our first meeting that you might be willing to buy that leather sofa that I was going to sell, but I just want to give it to you instead. I want you to have it. It's the least I can do. I couldn't have made it through this process without you."
Obviously, I was touched by this gesture, and I realized that day that my profession had made a real difference in someone's life. Dana's mom was able to find an apartment with her other daughter, and the last I heard, she was working as a worship director at a local church.
This sofa now sits in my office, and it is a poignant reminder of this pro bono transaction that I assisted with in order to help a friend's family. Although I sincerely feel as though I provide a valuable service to all of my clients, in this particular case my presence as the agent was more helpful and tangible that in any other time in my career.
I have helped many friends, acquaintances, and strangers in my eleven years in real estate, and I have given commission discounts for move-up buyers and repeat clients on occasion, but this one really meant something to me.
Speaking from the perspective of my Christian faith, Jesus spoke of helping the needy in Matthew 25:40,
"'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me."
And later in the same chapter, He mentions that whatever we don't do for those in need, we don't do for Him. This doesn't just refer to people who have the same belief system, or who are in the same tax bracket as I am. This applies to EVERYONE.
This is something I strive to live by, as a father, husband, and as a real estate broker.
This is why I do what I do.