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Life Lesson #2 Don't Judge

by Colleen Lawler


In the course of my life in real estate, I have walked over the thresholds of literally thousands of houses, into the homes of complete strangers. (I should stop here for a minute and point out that literrally thousands of people have let a complete stranger (me!) into their homes as well).  We all deserve a medal for bravery or a slap upside the head for being foolhardy, I guess.

So I get to meet a lot of people.  I meet them when they just got a promotion and are moving up, when they have just retired and are moving closer to grandkids.  I meet them when their parents have entered a nursing home or passed away, and I meet them when a marriage is coming to an end.  I meet them when they are racing to beat the stork to a house that fits their growing family.  

I have a lot a respect for all of these people.  They are faced with change, and even when change is for the good, it's not easy.  They let me see their basements and closets and garages...things that people they have known for years have never seen.  They most likely are a lot more anxious about having me come into their home than they let on, and I remind myself that most of the time, most of them would rather be going to the dentist.

Once I was on my way to meet someone who was an engineer.  And a lawyer.  Big reputation.  I prepared with great diligence.  I printed charts and graphs and I knew every thing about every home I was using as a comp for his house.  I studied days on market, list price to sale price ratios, month over month and year over year trends.  I know most of that going forward, but this time I knew it forward AND backward!.

I walked over the threshold ready for a proper grilling, confident, but a little anxious nonetheless.  And what to my wondering eyes appeared?  A human being, just like me.  John had a lovely dog, and a lovelier wife.  And a nice home that he needed to sell. He not only respected all the data, and charts, and graphs, but he respected me, and the time that I spent preparing to meet with him.  

He gave me the privilege of selling that home, and as I got to know John and Mary, I learned that they had children north and children south, and they intended to share their time and their lives with them by having a small home near each of them.  Mary had been through a couple of successful battles with cancer.  They knew how important it is to live the life you want to live, each and every day.  Because life is precious, and the people you love are precious.  That's a very important lesson, but not the first one that John taught me: engineers and lawyers don't just have brains, they have hearts. They can be very special people that make the world a much better place.

Never judge a book by its cover 

~George Elliot

Life Lesson #1 Be Kind

by Colleen Lawler

I have been helping real life people buy and sell real estate for almost 25 years.  Recently I've been thinking that there are about 8 billion blogs floating around wherever blogs float.  And since I get so busy doing what I do, it's always nagging at me that I haven't made a blog post since forever.  Probably all things real estate have been discussed, so what to write about?  

Well, it came to me as I was driving this week (real estate agents are almost always driving, btw)!

Lately I have come to realize that each person we meet either has something to teach us, or something to learn from us.  That didn't just's been happening since forever, and I am just now, 50-some odd years later, figuring that out.  Duh.

So, once or twice a week, I am going to try to explain something I have learned, or something someone has learned from me, as I've gone about the business of moving all these folks.  

The ground rules for these posts are simple.  I will refer to the people in these stories as John and Mary, and I reserve the right to change things up a bit (literary license?) to respect everyone.  Some stories will be funny, some will be  poignant, some will be sad.  I hope I can tell them as they deserve to be told.  

So, Lesson # 1 is a hard one to write about.  I met with a man who happened to be a fairly busy, well regarded long time real estate agent.  He lived in a beautiful home with his dog, all alone. I think he had been divorced a couple of times.   He looked like he worked out every day, dressed well, and his home was filled with all things beautiful.  He had been trying to sell this home without success, so he interviewed a couple of agents and asked me to list his home.  

This was near the middle of the downward crash in real estate, and he wanted to get out from under the debt of the house, and may have had some other real estate investments that were not doing very well.  At all.  We only met twice, and both times he was chain smoking.  I could tell he was stressed about getting this house sold, but he was a nice guy, no doubt about it.  

I listed the house.  We had a couple of showings.  Then one day I got a phone call from one of the agents in his office.  It went like this: "Colleen, you are going to want to stop showings on this house and cancel the listing.  John took his life yesterday."  

I heard that he left a note, and that it did not mention anything about how if the house had only sold, everything would have been fine. He was lonely and did not feel loved.

I only knew him for about 3 weeks, but I will always think of him.   Every time I drive past the road that leads to that house, I say a prayer for him, and for his family, and for me.  Every time, forever.  

He had so much more going on in his life, and he must have been so sad, and felt so hopeless.  He never, in the couple of times we met, or the times we spoke on the phone, gave any indication of the turmoil he was going through.

Lesson #1  



This is as important a lesson as I can think of.  Please practice it.  

Until next time...


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Colleen Lawler & The IrvineTeam
Coldwell Banker Gundaker
111 Chesterfield Towne Centre
Chesterfield MO 63005
Office: 636-391-2100
Toll Free: 800-791-3276
Fax: 636-536-3018