10 years in this business has afforded me the opportunity to work with hundreds of people from all difference backgrounds, in all different price ranges. Recently, I had the PRIVILEGE of working with the youngest buyer that I ever had, in one the lowest priced transaction I've ever worked, and in the end, it was one of the most precious experiences ever, professionally and personally.
I received an email in April through my website from a girl who wanted to see a $40,000 home in downtown Springfield, MO. She didn't leave me a phone number, just an email address. I looked up the home and thought, "What a piece of crap." I am ashamed to admit that I actually considered ignoring the showing request. This was during April when I was so busy working with the first-time homebuyer tax credit clients that I didn't have any spare time. Did I really want to spend time going downtown in one of the worst areas in town for such a small sale when I was putting together so many larger, more attractive deals?
I finally emailed her back and agreed to show it to her. I arrived at the home on the date and time agreed upon and met Allie. Allie was very shy, very soft-spoken, and EXTREMELY YOUNG, only 18 years old! Her parents were with her, but they just stood back in the background and watched over her. It was clear they were letting her do this on her own, but they all were incredibly nervous, especially Allie. I walked her into the home she asked to see, and as we rounded the corner and spotted the ceiling in the living room that had collapsed and dumped insulation all over the floor, and smelled the atrocious overwhelming stench of mold, you could almost visually see her heart sink.
I turned to her and said, "Were you wanting to put this much work into something?" She shook her head. I asked if she had spoken with a lender. She said yes, and she rummaged through a stack of papers in her hand and nervously handed me a prequalification letter from a small-town bank located about three hours away. The letter said she qualified for a conventional loan.
I looked at her and said, "I know we can find something better than this. Did you drive all this way to see this house?" She nodded. Her mother finally stepped forward and handed me crude printouts of several other homes in Springfield, and asked, "Do you know how we can get into these today?" None of the homes were priced above $50,000.
I thought for a moment. Truth is, I had already sold 9 homes that month, and still had 3 more contracts to write, I didn't have time, and I was worn thin. The idea of dropping everything I had planned that day and spending the day looking at homes in a price range I quite honestly had rarely even shown was not appealing to me at all!!!! But this pretty little girl was staring at me with the biggest, most innocent eyes I've ever seen, looking so awkward and scared, and my heart just went out to her. I said, "Follow me to my office."
I got in the car, and started calling every appointment I had scheduled that day and shuffled everything around. We got to my office and I pulled several other possible properties for her, in better areas of town, and scheduled appointments. It was going to be a long day.
As the day went on, Allie and her parents slowly warmed up to me and began talking a little more. I learned that they were a decent, hardworking, close family that had raised their only daughter to work hard in hopes that she could make a better life for herself. Allie had worked two jobs throughout her senior year to save enough money to put 20% down on her first home! She obviously had worked hard and planned and prepared for this for a long time. They had taught her old-school values when it came to her finances. Allie had received a scholarship to Missouri State University in Springfield and would be starting college in the Fall.
By the end of the day, we had written an offer on a home, and Allie and her parents left to go back home and await the news. I called them the next day and gave them the good news, Allie's offer had been accepted, and she was under contract. Allie didn't react like a typical teenager, or even my adult clients for that matter. She just softly said, "Oh, okay, thank you."
The day of closing, Allie and her parents came up for the final walkthrough. As I opened the front door, Allie had the biggest smile I'd ever seen on her face. As she stopped and turned to her parents in the living room, her mother broke into tears and grabbed and hugged her. Her father's chest pumped out with pride. And yes...of course....I started crying, too. She wasn't MY daughter, but at that moment I was so incredibly PROUD of her!
Of all the transactions I've closed in the past 10 years, this one netted me the least amount of money, but the privilege of working with Allie and her parents, building a relationship with them, earning their trust, helping a beautiful young woman take her first step in achieving an honorable dream, and the feeling of incredible accomplishment was PRICELESS!
Allie won't move in until closer to the beginning of the school year. Her parents are too far away to check in on her regularly. But they won't have to worry. I plan to be there for her. She has become MY inspiration and my role model. She is one of those rare people that you come in contact with in life who is so easily overlooked and undervalued, but who leave the most profound impression on you. Who would have thought?
When I think about Allie, I think about that moment when we were standing in that first home and I was faced with the decision of working with her, or just walking away. I still don't know what it was that compelled me to drop everything for her....but I'm so glad I did. Otherwise, I would have been the one losing out in the end.