Medium-busy Realtor and the Rat

On being a medium-busy Realtor, and on finding enormous rats or something!

I haven’t been among the busiest realtors who have been bringing in enormous sales commissions. And I haven’t been among the slowest house sales and purchase real estate agents either. Generally I find myself in the middle of all that somewhere. 

Somehow my life eventually evolved into being “a realtor” for over 30 years. One of the best things, it seems to me, about being a medium busy realtor with medium sales volume has been doing the work. Giving people a service.  And while doing that work I often got to know the people I worked for pretty well.

People who are receiving their agent’s services are usually receiving a lot of person-to-person contact. Person to agent contact in the normal work pattern across many weeks, usually. 

There are other agents, the “top producers” who are too busy for that. The busiest realtors have “teams” to cover a lot of the customer service needs and tasks. Team members, from what I have seen, skip around from customer to customer. 

Top producers are far less likely, I guess, to become eaten by giant rats or some carnivore than am I. So I’ll get to my rat part of this story soon. 

At my level, I got exposed to more of the banal paper work of the business and maybe a bit more of the adventure as well. There are some adventures I don’t wish on any agent or their customers.

 The individual mid-range agent usually has focus on his or her tasks with the same customer from beginning to end of the service cycle.

In a case like this I’d say that one of the best things is working through the myriad of challenges to be met and addressed along the path to selling  or buying a home.  

That’s what is needed to get the job done. A not-so-busy realtor can have a full day any day. Rats excluded. There will be a lot of paying attention to seeing that things stay in order. Keeping sometimes challenging requirements in order to accomplish the desired result. Be it a purchase of a house or the sale of a house. Its about having and holding on to a reasonable plan and getting the job done.

What I have described as “not-so-busy” realtors are really the common variety of agents. Like me. This was me anyway. Up until I stepped into what I call “semi-retirement.” We medium busy realtors, or at least the better part of this group, get the “people person” part of it, anyway.  We want to know who we are dealing with. We’re providing customer service in the traditional way. Earning trust and getting to know our customers. Celebrating with them when the job is done. And keeping in touch.

And we get all the challenges that come along with the work too. Dealing with people offers a lot of nuances. Some would be better forgotten. Some are treasured memories and a few can be a bit astounding.

Like the day I saw the “teeth in the screen” that I still remember vividly. Teeth and little tiny claws. Or nor so tiny. And heard the scraping if those claws on the back of a wood panel inches from me and a child I was holding. 

The Teeth and Claws on the Screen

There was a certain house that popped up as a “New Listing” on the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) one morning. The features of the house had a view of the bay and was near the freeway for a convenient commute. Perfect for the commute to San Francisco, it seemed. 

Anyway, it sounded like just what my clients, Daisy and Tom, wanted to know about. I emailed them some info. They said that they were excited and wanted to see it right away.

So, I informed the listing agent that we would visit it in the afternoon. She, the listing agent, responded that there was a BO (Broker’s Open) planned for the next day but we could go ahead today if we wanted. 

Daisy and Tom would meet me at the house and would, as expected, bringing along eleven-month old Jeremy. 

Jeremy had seen a lot of houses with us recently. He even seemed to know me by now. I would sometimes carry him as we walked through houses. That can be one of the perks for “people persons”, agents like me. Jeremy seemed to like my beard.

This particular ranch style house was built on a hillside with the rear side windows and yard providing a broad view of the bay and distant hills. The upstairs bedrooms, all 3, provided the same view too. I had noticed that Daisy and Tom hadn’t seemed impressed with the house’s front and its entry. True, it wasn’t much. I held my thoughts on that. 

The slope provided the house construction with a useful downstairs family room opportunity, a laundry area and a storage room with access to the yard.  There was a crawl space that was concealed by paneling. The paneling covered the house’s foundation and dirt and building framework. The panelling had occasional simple doorways to make access easy.

As we walked down to the basement Tom noticed one of the little doors along the stairway, built into the panelling. He opened it to find a camera security system. Before I had a chance to caution him about taking care not to effect it, it wasn’t our house, he had already pushed some buttons. A small video screen had lit up to display live pictures of the driveway, then the side yard, then the front yard, the rear yard and then the kitchen and the basement area and also a darkened space with dirt and wood framing. That was the basement view, where we were entering now. I took that to be the crawl space under the house. The space just behind the panel and cabinet door we were standing at.

Daisy took a look at the rotating images. Tom seemed comfortable with what he saw and proceeded into the basement. I was holding Jeremy and protecting my glasses, which Jeremy was learning to reach out to touch with increasing interest. Daisy and Tom moved into the basement laundry area.

I stayed checking out the security videos. The rotation of the screens came around again to the dark crawl space but the image that I saw had changed. Something was different. The house framing and foundation wasn’t visible this time. But it’s walls and dirt soon returned to the screen. A gray field had passed across the screen. What had just passed before the camera? I didn’t know. 

The image had passed showing movement and turning of an object. Something had moved. It had passed the camera view. It had filled the screen. Close to the lens I supposed. I waited for the cycling of the images to return to the crawl space camera. Soon I saw two eyes and then a paw with claws. Cat like I thought. Long claws passed quickly into darkness. 

Daisy and Tom had proceeded into the basement while I watched to procession of screens. I heard Daisy ask “What’s in here? Can you open this Tom?,” she said.

‘Let’s see,” said Tom. “Just a lot of dirt is all I can see.”

“Hey you guys,” I called to them. “Be careful.”

“We’re going into the yard,” called Daisy. 

Once again I saw the image of the crawl space come around and this time I saw eyes and a nose sweep across the screen. Then I heard the screech of a cat, a big cat. Like a hiss. Then a tremendous scuffle sounded. So quickly it started, an angry screech was startling and then it all stopped. 

Daisy and Tom came back to us in the stairway quickly. “We’re done John. No need to go further.”

“Let’s go,” I said. Tom, close that basement door please. 

“Too much highway noise John,” they both said in the same breath. 

The cat screeched again. Daisy and Tom were taking Jeremy from me and didn’t seem to notice. I heard it again. It wasn’t just me was it? There really was some form of big rat or cat or dog or marmot or something in there wasn’t there? Some kind of “critter?”  Something I’d not want at a Broker’s Open. That’s for sure.” 

Locking up to leave I had a little trouble operating the front door key and the lock box. My attention and my nerves were way off. 

“Did you,” I said to them both, “close up that door to the crawl space just now?”

“I’m pretty sure that I did,” said Tom. 

We left without my mentioning what I had ringing in my mind. 

I called the agent after I returned to the office. Left her a message. She called back. “OK, this is what I saw,” I told the agent my experience and suspicions. “I don’t even know what I saw. I would get that key out of your lockbox. Make sure things are safe before any more people go in,” I told her. “ Don’t go alone. Be careful.”