This week, in both real estate business and life, proved to be very thought-provoking. Lots of ups and downs, twists and turns. Many came out of nowhere. It reminded me of Purim – in the sense that a couple of situations seemingly turned completely upside down. When things like that occur, we have a choice. It is really beyond sink or swim. When things occur, we have a choice about how we react. We can take a safe road or the road less traveled, even where risks are involved. I do try to take “the high road” in whichever direction I decide to go or am led.
When faced with a decision or uncertainty, whether it involves a home purchase decision or a choice in a marriage partner or anything else of importance, we can seek help, advice, and guidance. We can daven for siyata d’Shmaya. We can go slow – practice the pause – and honor our need for space and time. Today I was in a meeting where a member described the group as a “room full of honesty.” People coming together for a common goal always builds strength. The same goes for minyanim or other group gatherings for learning or t’filos. We must remember “easy does it” and “this, too, shall pass.”
Unbelievably, I have seen prospective purchasers actually “bullied” away from purchasing a specific property. Yesterday, I read about a group of “bikers” (motorcycle riders) coming together in order to protect a child who was being bullied. This tough group escorted the child to school and made sure the bullying was put to an end. It was a strong show and it was effective. I have heard of groups like that in the past, most notably BACA. These groups of average but courageous people willing to take a stand, to “walk the talk,” and step up to the plate always impress me. It goes without saying that there must be “zero tolerance” with regard to any form of bullying. Period.
I have been working with buyers in another area who have a specific need – to be near a particular shul. This is common in our areas and in KG Hills I get these requests all the time. I suppose the difference is that here, our neighborhood is compact enough that people can more or less walk to almost any shul from any end of the community. In other areas that are more spread out, it would be more of an issue to be close enough to the shul of choice in order to walk on Shabbos, and so those locations would command a higher price and likely get it from those buyers with the specific need.
I prepared a lease for a landlord-tenant situation, the standard Bloomberg form that is often used. Sometimes the copies of the older documents do not come out so clearly. We usually customize the forms anyhow, allowing for specific instructions/clauses to be put in or removed. In this case, the landlord requested that another template be used entirely and so we redid it to everyone’s satisfaction. One notable comment on making sure everything is understood between the parties is something that arises every now and then. The security deposit is not something to be used for the last month’s rent. The purpose of a security deposit, which often is actually more than one month’s rent, is to ensure that the tenant leaves the dwelling when the lease is up, and to make sure that the unit is returned in the same condition it was given; after the tenant vacates this can be properly checked.
On Tishah B’Av I was privileged to take part in a lot of learning. I watched a film at Hasheveynu about three wonderful women. It was inspiring, of course, and one of the many lessons I took away from that film was that each of us is unique and special and have to find, cultivate, and use our own talents to grow ourselves and to share growth and inspiration with others – each in our own way. It also made me notice and be grateful for the many things others have shared with me throughout my own journeys of growth, and I decided to let those people know directly, creating a domino effect of unity and gratitude.
Sometimes in life it is ultimatums that cause us to take action. Or, to take action sooner than we might have otherwise. We have to take chances rather than playing it safe and avoiding what we are not ready to do. I see this constantly in real estate transactions, both with sales and rentals. While some people feel that if they themselves have not gone through certain experiences that they cannot really understand how someone else feels, yet they can try to empathize; there may be some truth to this, but it is important that we try our best to understand and act accordingly anyhow. A rabbi was trying to push along someone whom he felt needed to progress in the dating process. While he meant well, each case of course is different, and in order to be effective it would take an understanding of what makes that specific person tick. The same goes for real estate transactions. I have to understand who I am dealing with and what their concerns are in order to properly serve them. If I would just try to push people along, as some brokers do, it would frustrate everyone to no avail. A skill set is required, and willingness of course; it is called connecting with people on their terms. Those are the building blocks for any successful progression, whether in real estate, dating guidance, parental guidance, teachers guiding students, and so on.
We cannot always tell when a prospective purchaser is interested in a property or not. Sometimes someone seems interested and does not pursue it fast enough, and sometimes the ones you never expected pop up. Sometimes someone loses something or catches it just in time. Somebody was interested in a potential marriage partner but not ready at the time, and by the time they were that person was already engaged to someone else. This will happen. I saw a meme about that yesterday, actually. It read, “If you love someone be brave enough to tell them. Otherwise, be brave enough to watch them be loved by someone else.” Cutting words, but true. Life will go on. We cannot always reclaim what we have lost, but those lucky enough to get a second chance had better seize those moments. Better yet: seize the moment the first time around. Buyers lose properties in this same way every day. They take their time, they do not appreciate a property or they think they have all the time in the world. They try to negotiate too hard, they pursue something else, thinking the grass is always greener, and then they lose all their opportunities and are filled with regret. It amazes me how similar the home-buying process and the dating process can be. Basically, part of it is that some people pursue perfection, which does not exist. There are other factors to be sure, and especially in a seller’s market like our current one; there just is no time to waste.
In shul over Shabbos, the rabbi spoke about Shabbos Nachamu. He said that Hash-m is always listening and even answering us; it’s just that we don’t always see it or hear it. He reminded us to live passionately: to mean what we say and say what we mean. To preserve our passion. To live with intent. We have to merge the inner and outer worlds and keep growing. Live with intent is something I say often – both to myself and to others. I also say this to my clients when trying to encourage either buyer or seller, landlord or tenant to move forward on something that I feel is good for them and they seem unnecessarily stuck.
A friend suffered a tragedy this week. A desperate situation arose. Aside from offering comfort, this stirred in me so many thoughts and feelings, causing me to reflect on my own choices. Everything happens for a reason: everyone we meet, everything we see, every breath we take. We must figure out the meaning we are supposed to take out of every occurrence, the good and the bad. It is all meant to teach us something. I remind myself of this often, as throughout any average day, both in the world of real estate and in life, it is inevitable.
We all want and believe we deserve situations that we don’t have to question. Though, I will admit, my father often asks me why I tolerate so much drama in my life, wondering if I feel I somehow deserve that. The answer is no, of course. Am I used to it? Perhaps. Not by choice. One of my challenges has been to learn to walk away from situations that no longer serve me, which I have done numerous times and will continue to do, be’ezras Hashem.
Again, as so many things happen unexpectedly, planning is good but not the end-all in any situation. I planned to market a property as a short sale and then ended up putting the house out as a regular sale as the values went up drastically, effectively rescuing this particular house, gratefully. Others have plans that fall through or temporarily get delayed. People think they have a secure situation because they have signed a contract of sale, and then something goes wrong. This happens even at the “closing table,” such as occurred recently regarding a title issue as a close relative sat down, thinking this was the last stop. Again, in the correlation to dating, sadly, engagements are sometimes broken. Sometimes relationships are put back together unexpectedly. The bottom line is that anything can happen. We can prepare our best and try to play it safe; for example, a lesson I learned yesterday was to be sure that stroller buckles are always belted on all kids; even when we think the children or grandchildren will not try to jump out, they might. In another setting, someone I admire honestly admitted something less-than-favorable about his past. Sometimes we have to relay information about something concerning about a property. We must do this honestly and disclose what we know. That same somebody mentioned above is careful to avoid the slightest display of impropriety. He wants to be sure that not only will others not be hurt but that no trust issues come in to play, and so he exercises great caution in order to practice what he preaches regarding loyalty. Again, with real estate, this is commendable behavior for us as real estate agents and for anybody involved in a transaction. This is also advisable for us as a community that strives to be a light unto the nations – to be extra careful with our behavior. My humble advice with all of these goals is to aim to improve and accomplish – one day at a time.
Sarah Newcomb, Queens Realtor Team, and the Newcomb family have been New York State licensed realtors for over 16 years. They specialize in Kew Gardens Hills and serve all areas in the five boroughs and Long Island. They hold several specialty certifications and are members of the Long Island Board of Realtors and the Multiple Listing Service of Queens and Long Island, and have won multiple awards from RE/Max NY and RE/Max International. They are proud members of the Kew Gardens Hills community. You can reach them at 917-459-7549, Sarahnewcombtopproducer@gmail.com, or Queensrealtorteam.com.