Stories from the Trenches

I have seen a lot in my 20 years in real estate, and I want to share three that really shocked me. These stories from the trenches taught me something, and I think you will learn a thing or two as well.

The first one is a tree fell on the house. We were about three days from closing in escrow, and it was a long 60-day escrow. And literally, on day 57, a tree fell on the house, and we ended up having to extend the escrow six weeks to complete the repairs to the home in order to close the escrow. So what did I learn from that? Murphy's Law, whatever can go wrong will go wrong. So takeaways are to make an escrow short, have a leaseback if you need it, and try and close as quickly as possible because you never know what can happen.

The second story was one of the worst things that ever happened while selling a house. It is a bummer story. A client of mine was behind in his payments on his home, and he needed to sell. He was in a tight bind. It was 1998. We put his house in escrow, and he was going to walk away with a nice profit. I lent him money. Never do that. I lent him money so that he could actually move out of his house and get an apartment. The buyers were in a moving truck, driving from the East Coast to their new home in Los Angeles. And two days before the close of escrow, IRS tax liens were levied on the house, which prevented us from closing the escrow. And because he was so far behind on his payments, the bank foreclosed on his house, and he lost his house. The buyers had to be given the bad news that they wouldn't have a home when they arrived in Los Angeles. I lost the $5000 that I lent him. So there you go. It was a lose, lose, lose situation. Lots of things to be learned from that, but a huge bummer of a transaction for everyone.

And the final story is a funny one. I was selling a house way up in the Hollywood Hills. I was with the client showing her homes, and I ran out of gas. As I was driving down and I realized my car had died, and I was coasting. My client, Jeanie Goldenberg, looked at me and asked, "Is everything OK?" I admitted we had just run out of gas. She said, " Oh my God, what are we going to do?" I told her, I'm going to coast this car all the way out of the hills. And I did. I literally coasted it down Wonder View Drive, down Lookout Drive onto Laurel Canyon, all the way down to Sunset Boulevard. I got a tank of gas and went back and showed her the rest of the houses and sold her one. She ended up becoming a really dear friend. She refers lots of clients to me, and she always tells her friends, make sure Dave has a full tank of gas before he shows you any houses. The lesson here, watch your gas gauge!

] A few stories from the trenches of my real estate career. If you're a real estate agent, I'd love to hear some of your stories. Or maybe you're a buyer and seller, and you have some stories from that. Either way, I'd love to hear from you. Take care.

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