Parental Advice

February 28, 2014 8:53 am Published by

   house in clouds

      I remember it like it was yesterday. My career in real estate had only just begun, and I was excited to be showing a property to a young couple for the second time.  It was the early 90’s, and the market could best be described as stagnant.  (The notion of a form 244 had not yet been dreamt up!) Clearly, my clients loved the house, and I was certain that they were at the point of committing to making an offer. And then the kiss of death: “we are ready to make an offer but we would like our parents to see it first.” Arggh! !!!

  My clients were a young couple, 3 months from getting married and both a genuine pleasure. The same cannot be said for their parents.  At the ensuing ‘showing to the parents’, both the bride’s parents (first generation Canadians still living/gardening/husbandry-ing in their first home on Alice Street) and the grooms parents (renting a semi on Cole Road) walked through the subject property picking it apart, and one-upping each other in their knowledge of windows, framing, drywall and cupboards.  The only thing the two sets of parents could seemingly agree upon, was that their children’s realtor was a ‘wet behind the ears’ idiot who didn’t know what he was doing. In retrospect, they were more correct than I care to admit!  It was a frustrating experience.  Perhaps a more seasoned professional would have been able to convince all parties involved as to the wisdom of investing in real estate. Unfortunately, I was not the seasoned professional the situation demanded, and my clients decided to rent, save money and wait for prices to come down. My follow up was terrible, and I have no idea how long they decided to wait out the market.  By my calculation, the only winner in the situation was their landlord who each month allowed his tenants the pleasure of paying down his mortgage. As frustrating as the experience was, there were two clear lessons to be extracted from the situation which would change my course over the years. Firstly, – seek the counsel of those who have achieved more. There is nothing wrong with renting the family homestead on Cole Road. For many it is a necessity and I have a great deal of respect for those who have started that way.  However, it hardly qualifies one for the dispensation of real estate investment advice.  Secondly, I soon learned that I was better at convincing myself to invest in real estate than I was in convincing others.  Of course, after having done so, selling became easier too.  Investing in the product I wanted others to purchase through me seemed imperative, and I cannot rationalize otherwise. There is a very good reason that Barry Cullen drives a Cadillac – and it has nothing to do with the comfort of the ride. Rather it is to show his customers that he believes in the product he wants you to purchase.  If I found out that he was driving a Ford he leased from Wayne Pitman, would he not lose a little credibility?  Real Estate I came to believe, is no different. There is a level of credibility gained when you can relate with the trials and tribulations of your clients. My real estate license may have said I was qualified to sell all types of real estate. In reality, it is difficult to relate to real estate ownership until you experience it for yourself. This holds true, I believe, for single family homes, student rentals, or investment properties of a larger nature. Until I became an owner, I was like the childless couple giving parenting advice.

  Parental advice can be a difficult dynamic, and one that is not of our choosing.  My mothers standard response to anything I wanted to buy was ‘if it was so good why hasn’t someone else bought it already?’  My father on the other hand, though conservative by nature, said very little of anything, but thankfully he would never talk me out of a purchase because of the condition of the windows or the colour of the curtains. Everything seemed expensive to him, but he also realized that the only difference between paying too much, and a bargain – was time.  Renting on the other hand, pained him.  

Thanks for reading,

Jeff Neumann