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Families That Are Stitched Together With Love... Seldom Unravel

Several Years Ago I received a call from a woman who wanted to talk about selling her home.  Her name was Valerie.  We chatted for awhile on the phone, and then we set aside a time to get together.

When I visited her home, I didn't find a "house"... I found an immaculately taken-care-of "home."  There were pictures of all her family members on her "wall of fame."  This wall was all along the right side of the stairway leading from the first floor to the second floor.  It was very easy to tell that she was very proud of her family.

One of Valerie's prized possessions that was on her wall... was the quilted wall-hanging below.  I complimented her on it, and asked her if I could take a picture of it.  She seemed very proud that I asked, and quickly gave her ok.  I know the picture is on an angle, but the quote at the top reads...

                                "Families That Are Stitched Together With Love Seldom Unravel."

                                             

As my seller and I walked slowly up the stairway, Valerie pointed out her children, her grand-children, and her youngest child... who was her first child with her new husband of three years.  (Her first husband had passed away some years before.)

After showing me all through her lovely home, we finally made it to the kitchen table.  We went over pricing, and after sharing with her all the neighborhood comparables, we agreed on a price.  We went over all the details, we signed all the listing paperwork, and then she asked me if it was ok for her to bring up something "personal."

Very nervously Valerie began to "explain."  It seems her second husband was a very dear man she originally met at her church.  Valerie shared with me how kind and loving he was, and then... after hesitating... she said that he was an African American.  Her first child with her new husband is in the picture above... on the lower right side.

Valerie had said that she had heard from some friends of hers, who said their Realtors had told them they needed to de-personalize their home of all family pictures before they put their home up for sale.  Valerie shared with me that before I had arrived at her home, she wondered if she needed to remove all of the pictures of her husband... just because he was "black."  She said her friends told her she needed to do that... because it might "hurt the sale."

I could see from the look on Valerie's face that she was hurting inside, and was already dreading my answer.  I told her that, unfortunately, there was some truth to what her friends had told her.  She was silent for a few moments.  Fortunately her silence allowed me about ten seconds to think.  I felt ashamed that I even needed that long to give her an answer. 

As I mentioned above, I had told her there was "a bit of truth" to what her friends told her, but that I really, really wanted her to keep the pictures of her husband and their child up on the wall.  I told her that I felt her home was so gorgeous... and had so many amenities that the typical buyers were looking for... that I really felt she would be fine leaving her home just as it was.

I also share with her that personally... I wanted her to leave her home just as it was... a warm, caring home for the family she loved.  I told her I thought her home very probably would appeal to a similarly "family-oriented" buyer... one who would immediately fall in love with it.  So together we decided to leave all her pictures... just as they were.   As I was leaving to plant the sign in the ground... we stopped in the foyer for a hug.  What a very nice lady... what a very nice family.

Valerie must have said some extra prayers... because within a week I presented, and they accepted a full price offer on their home.  I know I went against the "conventional wisdom" by not going along with Valerie's fears... but I felt in my heart... way down deep... that what she personally stitched on her wall hanging was true...

                                        Families That Are Stitched Together with Love Seldom Unravel

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For information on more wonderful family homes, please visit Karen Anne Stone's website at www.NewHomeHuntersDFW.com .  Or, call the New Home Hotline at (817) 929-3400.  Karen's email is KarenAnneStone@gmail.com .

Comment balloon 26 commentsKaren Anne Stone • November 26 2007 01:05AM

Comments

Beautiful story!!  How sad that she felt she had to ask...THAT shouldn't matter but to some families it does.  That is one of the least favorite parts of "our job" for me.  I have had a few families who have "asked" or "made comments" and I pretty much tell them straight up how unethical it is for me to discuss it and how I didn't think it mattered.  It usually "ends the fuss" abruptly and we move on.  I haven't lost a client over it yet so I guess I've done okay.

I'm thrilled to hear the outcome of this home, the story and the love of this family!!

Posted by Susie Roscoe, Real Estate Specialist | Brandon, FL (Signature Realty Associates) almost 12 years ago
Good job Karen Anne, I think the quilt is beautiful and it says it all to me. In all my time in the business, I have only been in one home where there was too many family pictures. They were of their 3 kids and literally everywhere you looked. Ladders greated us at the front door, portraits in the hall, I mean everywhere. But, photos of the family on enhance the home. Even builders use them in models here.
Posted by Missy Caulk, Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate (Missy Caulk TEAM) almost 12 years ago
KAREN ANNE:  I think that you did a great job with telling this story.  While I encourage depersonalization, I also know that there are some things that can be left untouched, particularly when the home shows beautifully.  As Missy said, if someone has their home covered in photos, it makes it difficult to see the forest for the trees (so to speak).  Unfortunately, the people that were giving her advice may not have only been speaking of getting rid of pictures, but specific kinds of pictures, which is just a sad commentary.
Posted by Adam Waldman, Realtor - Long Island (Westcott Group Real Estate Company) almost 12 years ago

Karen Anne, what a great story.  Sounds like this family found the right agent for them.

Posted by Peggy K., Illinois Virtual Tour Provider and Real Estate Photographer (Grand Property Virtual Tours) almost 12 years ago
Karen, I love the approach you took with this client. Some homes show well with all the owners decorations and others not so well. Thanks for stopping to allow wisdom to give you the right answer.
Posted by Judy Tuscano, NH Real Estate Professional (Prudential Verani Realty) almost 12 years ago
Hi Susie:  Yes... I too was thrilled at how things turned out.  Especially considering her fear about, and love for her new "family."  Although I haven't lost a client over something like this either... if I ever do, it was probably one I didn't really need in the first place.  Thanks for visiting...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Hi Missy:  Yes, the quilt is beautiful.  It speaks volumes about how this family lived their lives.  And I think it actually was a great statement about the very thing she was concerned about.  Thanks for commenting...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Hi Adam:  I am pretty much sure that the people giving her advice specifically meant... that the pictures showed the family was bi-racial.  Honestly I was so angry that her so-called "friends" would even dare to say anything about that.  They weren't really friends, anyway... were they ?  Thanks for your kind comments...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Hi Peggy:  Thanks for your kind comment.  I think this story showed it was a good fit all the way around.  Thanks for visiting...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Hi Judy:  In my heart I knew the right answer.  It was just that when she told me what her friends suggested, it was like hitting me in the face with a shovel.  I was stunned for a second, and... as difficult as it may be to believe... I was actually "speechless."  Judy, thanks for your kind words...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Karen Anne,  You know what, that's what makes you a GREAT agent.  You could've gone for the more text book answer but you had the intelligence and consideration to take the high road.  That full price offer was a gift from you know who because you did the right thing.  AWESOME JOB! :)
Posted by Shannon Lefevre, Shannon Lefevre, PA Your Naples Smart Girl (John R. Wood Properties) almost 12 years ago
Hi Shannon:  Thank you so much for your very kind comments.  I guess some of the text books I read were from different schools than some other folks.  Honestly... what's right is right !  With all the love and pride Valerie shared with me... my taking a stand with her was the only thing to do.  It was where my heart was... and I went with it.  Here it is again... simply treat others as you would want them to treat you.  Thanks for visiting, Shannon...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago

Karen Anne,

I'm really surprised by her "friends" advice.  Thank goodness she had you for an agent.  Getting the full-price offer in a week is the icing on the cake.

Posted by Adele Irving - Easton Area Homes (Prudential Patt, White Real Estate) almost 12 years ago
Hi Adele:  Oh, her "friends" were just trying to "protect" her.  Uh huh !  Can people that are that "closed minded" really have been her "friends ?"  We both know the answer.  Yet, on their advice, she was considering possibly hurting her marriage... just on their petty advice.  And yes, I am so glad I was her agent.  Their entire family were all very dear, dear people.  Thanks for your kind comments, Adele.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Karen Anne - I didn't have time to read this one yesterday, but I knew I wanted to come back to read it completely.  I love the story that you told here.  This was a sticky situation handled with class and care for another person.  I would have expected nothing less from you.  Great job!
Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) almost 12 years ago
Hi Jason:  It just hit me that her "friend" would be so unaware of what effect her doing that could have on her husband and her family, as well as her own self-esteem.  People just don't seem to think or be aware of how much impact their actions can have on others.  Thanks so much for your kind comments.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Congratulations on the Family Reunion inclusion!  Clearly, leaving the home as a home and not just another house was the right way to go.  You were so sensitive to pick up on what was in your seller's heart.  Sad that it should have even come up.
Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Compass) almost 12 years ago
Karen Anne - Elaine beat me to it.  I included this post in the Family Reunion this week (Family Ties recap).  Thanks!
Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) almost 12 years ago
Oooo, mea culpa, Jason.  I shall show more restraint next time.  You should have the honor!
Posted by Elaine Hanson, REALTOR - Topanga, CA Real Estate Agent (Compass) almost 12 years ago
Hi Elaine:  Thank you so much for your kind thoughts.  I am just so glad that Valerie had chosen me as her agent, because I shudder to think what kind of response might have been give to her by some of the less empathetic agents out there.  Thanks for your comment.  Take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago

Hi Jason:  I don't know why, but tears came to my eyes when I saw that you included my "Families That Are Stitched Together With Love... Seldom Unravel" post in your FAMILY REUNION post.  I was very surprised.  I was really not expecting it.  It is an honor just to be included with all the other posts written by all the wonderful people you selected.  Thanks so much.  Take care...

Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Hi again Elaine:  Not to worry.  Jason just has to learn that he is playing with a bunch of pretty sharp women.  "He who snoozes... ends up in second place behind the quicker chicks!"  I think my new, improved version of the old "You Snooze, You Lose" saying sounds a lot better than the original,  What do you think, Elaine ?  Thanks again, and take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Good for you, Karen Anne.  Buyers can object to many things, but why yield to the bigots of the world?  I'm sure your client wouldn't have felt very good about selling her home to anyone who would object to the photographs and the family demographics anyway.  You did the right thing, and I am very glad that Jason pointed me towards this point in his weekly recap.  Great post.
Posted by Paul Slaybaugh, Scottsdale, AZ Real Estate (Realty Executives) almost 12 years ago
Hi Paul:  Thanks so much for your kind comments.  Words like that coming from someone like you mean a lot.  Valerie, the woman in my story, is such a sweet lady, and her family pride is so genuine.  I was honored to be able to help her.  Thanks again... take care...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago
Karen Anne ~  Congratulations on putting people before the bottom line.  It usually pays off.  I am glad that this went so well for all parties involved, and thank for sharing your story!  :)
Posted by Sarah Eubanks, Preferred Oregon Loan Consultant & Notary Public (Hill Valley Financial Services) almost 12 years ago
Hi Sarah:  You are very welcome.  This was a story that had a very nice ending.  What a sweet woman my seller was.  I'm so glad I was her agent.  If her agent had not been sensitive to her needs, it could have been a disaster.  It felt so great helping here... to me that's what real estate is all about.  Thanks for your comment...
Posted by Karen Anne Stone, Fort Worth Real Estate (New Home Hunters of Fort Worth and Tarrant County) almost 12 years ago

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