There are two types of memorable dreams on opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is simultaneously so terrifying and ludicrous that you know it is a dream— because there is no way a creature with the body of a scorpion and the head of Shaq, with multicolored teeth like a Rubik’s cube, could exist.
And then there is the other kind—the one that, unless you are a trained lucid dreamer, comes along unexpectedly, where you are flying, or better yet, are effortlessly beating up two giant UFC fighters and rescuing from them a Sophie Marceau lookalike (but hyper curvaceous, like she was in Firelight as opposed to Braveheart) Those are the dreams you want to hang out in, but of course in those, the slightest noise or random thought will wake you up, even as you desperately try to stay in it.
That is the type of dream I was having when my home phone rang at 7AM on a Saturday. I reached over to pick up the receiver, ready to tongue lash whatever brain donor had the gall to call me at that hour on a weekend..or any day for that matter.
It was my office answering service: “Hi, Mr. Hurwitz, this is Laurie. I am really sorry to call you this early, but I have a gentleman on the line who has called here four times since 5AM about a property you have listed. I, of course, knew better than to call you that early though.”
I groaned with incredulity. “Well, next time know better than to call me at 7AM too. Just take a message. Damn, I was sleeping and having the best dream. What does he want?”
“He says he is in front of a property in Malibu that has your sign on it in and he wants to buy it.”
“Since 5AM?!” I struggled up into a sitting position and noticed with a mixture of disbelief that it was still dark outside my window. I haven’t woken up when it is dark outside since I was maybe in the 8th grade. In any event, I was fully up now so I told the operator to put him through.
A man named John explained that he and his wife were driving back home from a reunion and saw an incredible house, exactly the style and setting they were looking for, and wanted to know how much it was and how soon they could tour it.
Since it was a Saturday, and the weather prediction was 80 degrees and I was planning on playing volleyball on the beach in front of my house with a bunch of friends, I was silently hoping it was out of their price range and I could descend back into slumberland and maybe, against all odds, fall back into a stupor and find my way back to Sophie and the thugs I was beating up. Unfortunately, the asking price did not dissuade John and he pressed me for a showing as quickly as possible. They wanted to move forward on the purchase immediately if the inside of the property met their expectations. Now, another agent, particularly a very successful one like me who wasn’t desperate for the coin, would have quoted the company line and said they need to give 24 hour notice to the seller (even if it wasn’t true) and tried to set something up for the following day or if they were really lazy, Monday.
However, since this is a real estate magazine, I will provide some real estate advice that will dramatically increase the earnings of any agent who is reading this, no matter if he or she is a tyro, an experienced underachiever or even a heavy hitter. Always show the property, no matter the time, no matter how inconvenient it may be for you. The difference between making the sale and not making it is not a matter of degrees or gradations of compensation. It is ALL or NOTHING. In many cases the difference between making a single commission that would equal the annual income of most wage workers in a year and making nothing was not because of my consummate negotiating skill or manipulative powers, but simply my willingness to always show a prospective client my listing— morning, noon, or night— including, in some cases, flying back from a vacation to do so. Or in one memorable case, chartering a private jet for one day to show an estate I had listed in Aspen.
I digress—I told John that I would meet him and his wife up there at 11. After I hung up, I called the owner (a very cool doctor who was into growth hormone and testosterone, and I don’t know what else, but he looked 35 and was 55, had a Playboy playmate girlfriend of around 25, and a giant great spotted great dane with a monstrous tail so when he stood next to you it was like a cop striking you in the leg with a furry lead-filled nightstick). Like all my clients, he was totally open minded about showings within reason. People buy with emotion and if they want to see a property and have the money to buy it, I want to get them in and close the deal.
A few hours later I was driving up the canyon to the house, sited spectacularly on a promontory with panoramic views of the ocean. Upon arrival, I saw a young man of around 30 years old standing beside a small, inexpensive red car. His wife was sitting in the passenger seat. My mood sunk like a lead balloon. The first thought that hit me was: “Boy, I hope this guy is inheriting some money or something.”
I stepped out of my car, introduced myself, opened the electric gate, and proceeded to take him and his pregnant wife through the house. He was a very intelligent guy and quite knowledgeable about finishes and some of the technical aspects incorporated into the house. When we finally went out take in the view and the 60ft pool, he commented on how the house was perfect for them. His wife excused herself to wait in the car, as she was pretty far
along and walking through a 3 level house was probably not on her prescribed activities in her condition. Throughout the showing I had thrown out various questions about John’s background and he was a quite interesting chap, having been educated back east and traveled extensively. I still had no real idea of exactly what he did for money but he was confidently vague.
I have dealt with a fair number of buyers, far younger than him and on much larger purchases, who looked like they couldn’t find two nickels to rub together, but had family money or a rich parent who would come in and execute the transaction once they found a house they liked, so it wasn’t that strange. Also, this was one of my lower priced listings, so I didn’t really grill potential buyers or ask for proof of funds or anything like that.
As we looked out over the view he abruptly asked when he could meet the seller. This took me aback and I replied: “Well, that is not something that we do at this stage. What happens is that if you decide you want the property, we write up an offer and present it to the seller. If he accepts it, or counters you and we eventually come to terms, during the course of the escrow I am sure I could arrange to have you meet.”
He contemplated this for a moment and said: “So there is no way to meet with him now?”
“No. Besides, to be honest, what is the point? There is nothing really to talk about and there is a standard procedure going forward. If you like the house and you can afford it, let’s write it up and see if we can make a deal.”
I waited in dead silence for about 30 seconds as he appeared to wrestle with himself and finally he said: “Look, Bob, I am going to be perfectly honest with you.”
I waited silently, fully realizing I had blown a perfect beach day as traffic would be horrendous going back to the Marina and this gentleman, polite as he was, had zero money.
He looked me square in the eyes and stated: “I don’t have the money to buy the house.”
I replied: “Okay, uh, what are we doing here?”
“Well, we don’t have the money now, but we will. That’s what I want to talk to the owner about.”
“For now, why don’t you just talk to me. Do you have any money?
Like down payment type money, deposit money, gas money?”
“No. But we will have,” he repeated.
“Jesus is going to give it to us. He wants us to have this house.”
Now, I am very respectful of all religions. I have happily and successfully represented Jews, Christians, Catholics, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists and probably even some Satanists and voodoo practitioners. Also, on a practical level I always error on the side of caution: just because I personally don’t believe in something doesn’t mean it isn’t true. I never even get into religion. In real estate matters it is irrelevant at best, and at worst, like discussing politics, a sure road to blowing a deal. But somehow, even with my agnostic’s ignorance of the facets of Christianity, I found it difficult to believe that Jesus would forego all the good things he could do with a few million dollars to heal the sick and feed the poor, to buy John and his wife a mansion in Malibu. But…I didn’t say that of course. Who am I too
judge? In fact, I would send forth my strongest emanations that he would in fact receive the money and I would make the sale.
He continued, very sincerely and confidently, to describe that he would in fact be provided the money from Jesus; he had received similar dispensations in the past and this was for sure a done deal. If he could just talk to the seller and explain it then maybe we could work something out.
I said, very politely and with great sincerity, “I totally respect your beliefs and your faith and really hope that you do get the money but right now I need to lock up.” I guided him to his car, smiled at his wife, and said to him: “Look, you have my card and my number. I can’t have you meet with the seller because frankly he would probably strangle me if I even told him about any of this, but if you do actually get the money from Jesus or the lottery or whatever, give me a shout and we will get you the house.” We exchanged pleasantries, shook hands, and I sent him on his way in his four thousand dollar car.
A few weeks later I was wolfing down a Porterhouse steak at Ruth’s Chris in Beverly Hills with a legit rich client with whom I just closed a deal with when my cell phone rang.
“Hi Bob, I hope I’m not disturbing you. It’s John. I was just checking to see if the house is still available.”
I paused for a moment to finish chewing and swallowing as it was the tougher New York side of the steak I was working on, thinking was it possible?!
“Hi John. Good to hear from you. Yes it’s still available. Did you get the money?”
“No. Not yet.”
“Okay… just call me back when it comes in.”