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Opinion Editorials

Humorous real estate tales that you just can’t make up

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Call it scoping out the competition or call it being nosy, but I am always interested in hearing about people’s experiences with other realtors. This weekend I got an earful!

An out of town couple flew into town who were on the hunt for a vacation home up to $1M in my neck of the woods.  Unbeknownst to me, they actually had visited many states and cities this summer, each area with a different realtor.  Whereas most buyers stick with one agent over the course of their search and have limited comparison, this couple got to interact with a plethora of agents in a short period of time.  And I couldn’t believe some of the things that happened to them. They had me in stitches!

Act one: “Don’t tell me. You’re the Milburns.”

One agent in La Jolla, CA called them to say he was going to be a bit tardy for their first showing and to not worry because he was on his way.  My clients took the extra time to drive around the complex and check out the amenities. But as they returned to the parking lot, a car blazes into the lot, rounds the corner and accidentally rams into my clients’ rental car.

The driver gets out of his car and sheepishly says, “Don’t tell me. You’re the Milburns.” After they spend the next 2 hours sorting out the insurance and accident claims, he says “So, let’s continue our tour” (?!)

Act two: “Well there is one thing…”

After that fiasco, an agent in Incline Village, Nevada showed them a townhouse that was his own listing. After spending a while at the property, they went to the agents office to discuss a possible offer.  Being an attorney, my client asked the agent if there was anything else to know about the property, since the agent was acting as a dual agent and had information about the seller.

The agent said, “Well there is one thing. The owner died in the master bedroom.”  “Oh, in his sleep?” they inquired.  “No. His wife murdered him. But don’t worry, she is now institutionalized.” They passed on this property (and agent).

Act three: “Um, who are you?”

A week later, my clients were finishing up a tour with an agent in Laguna Beach, CA, who frankly didn’t show them anything that matched their needs. Maybe in an attempt to redeem himself, he said he had driven by an open house earlier that would be a good fit for them.

So, they arrive and the open house is jam packed. The couple swoon over the house’s architecture, layout and upgrades. They had never seen an open house with such decadent catering and elegantly dressed buyers.  They give their agent thumbs up, “Good job! This might be the one!” As they are piling caviar onto their plates and sipping champagne, a woman who presumably was the listing agent, all of a sudden approaches them. They gush “This is a lovely home. Please tell the seller we are very impressed,”  to which she responds “Um, who are you?”

“We’re here for the open house,” explained the couple .  “This is indeed an open house…. for my friends and family. I am the new owner.” Embarrassed beyond belief, they put down their plates & slithered out.

You can’t make this stuff up!

My clients said each time they went out with a new agent, they felt like they was on a sitcom.  Lucky for me, my tour with her was nowhere near as comedic (although I was holding my breath for something hilarious to happen…no such luck).

Please share any blundering stories you or your fellow agents have experienced with clients.  We all need a good laugh!

Watch Real Estate Expert Herman Chan put the REAL back in REALTY. In his show Habitat for Hermanity, Herman skewers the real estate business and pokes fun at his fellow agents, all the while empowering buyers & sellers with behind-the-scene tips & secrets of the industry! Get a glimpse beyond the glitz & glam of real estate. It's a hot mess! Featured on HGTV, House Hunters & other media outlets, Herman is the undisputed Real Estate Maven whose helpful & hilarious commentary you just can't live without! In fact, his real estate TV show has just been optioned in Hollywood!

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Lauren

    July 26, 2010 at 3:07 am

    Fantastic! Love the accidental gate-crashing story. At least they got a glass of champagne out of it.

    • hermanchan.com

      July 28, 2010 at 2:36 pm

      you must have lots of stories, from your uglybaby experiences!

  2. Ken Webb

    July 26, 2010 at 4:15 am

    Hoy! that is too funny! – We all should have stories of humor in our lives,…I have yet to make a huge blunder,…in Real Estate – But have made very funny faux pas in other high end purchases.

    Keep them coming!

  3. Kerri J Mackey

    July 26, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I was in the process of showing a young couple houses. At one point I realized my blouse had come undone. If that wasn’t embarassing enough going from one house to another I ended up getting pulled over for speeding with the couple behind me. Lucky for me they knew the sheriff deputy.

    • hermanchan.com

      July 27, 2010 at 6:19 pm

      i got pulled over once by a cop , when my client was in the car with me. so i totally relate to your story!
      i’ve never had my blouse pop open, but i did forget to zip my fly during an open house….ugh.

  4. Diana Santos

    July 26, 2010 at 1:03 pm

    Too funny! I also have a few stories – but not as hilarious as these! Who says Real Estate isn’t fun 😉

    ~ Diana ~

    • hermanchan.com

      July 28, 2010 at 2:39 pm

      oh diana, please share! i need someone to brighten my day 🙂

  5. Chandler Realtor

    July 26, 2010 at 4:07 pm

    Haha! Love it!

  6. Pingback: When Help Isn't Help - Home Buying & Anecdotes

  7. Pingback: A Wonderful Source of Information About Real Estate – Primyce

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Opinion Editorials

Shady salary transparency is running rampant: What to look out for

(EDITORIAL) Employees currently have the upper hand in the market. Employers, you must be upfront about salary and approach it correctly.

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Man holding money in the dark representing false salary transparency.

It’s the wild wild west out there when it comes to job applications. Job descriptions often misrepresent remote work opportunities. Applicants have a difficult time telling job scams from real jobs. Job applicants get ghosted by employers, even after a long application process. Following the Great Resignation, many employers are scrambling for workers. Employees have the upper hand in the hiring process, and they’re no longer settling for interviews with employers that aren’t transparent, especially about salary.

Don’t be this employer

User ninetytwoturtles shared a post on Reddit in r/recruitinghell in which the employer listed the salary as $0 to $1,000,000 per year. Go through many listings on most job boards and you’ll find the same kind of tactics – no salary listed or too large of a wide range. In some places, it’s required to post salary information. In 2021, the Equal Pay for Equal Work Act went into effect in Colorado. Colorado employers must list salary and benefits to give new hires more information about fair pay. Listing a broad salary range skirts the issue. It’s unfair to applicants, and in today’s climate, employers are going to get called out on it. Your brand will take a hit.

Don’t obfuscate wage information

Every employer likes to think that their employees work because they enjoy the job, but let’s face it, money is the biggest motivator. During the interview process, many a job has been lost over salary negotiations. Bringing up wages too early in the application process can be bad for a job applicant. On the other hand, avoiding the question can lead to disappointment when a job is offered, not to mention wasted time. In the past, employers held all the cards. Currently, it’s a worker’s market. If you want productive, quality workers, your business needs to be honest and transparent about wages.

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Opinion Editorials

3 reasons to motivate yourself to declutter your workspace (and mind)

(EDITORIAL) Making time to declutter saves time and money – all while reducing stress. Need a little boost to start? We all need motivation sometimes.

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Clean work desk representing the need to declutter.

It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few years. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob, an un-alphabetized bookshelf, or that we’ve put off ‘declutter’ on our to-do list for too long.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, taking time to declutter can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those 3 things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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Opinion Editorials

How to identify and minimize ‘invisible’ work in your organization

(EDITORIAL) Often meaningless, invisible tasks get passed down to interns and women. These go without appreciation or promotion. How can we change that?

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Women in a meeting around table, inclusion as a part of stopping gender discrimination representing invisible work.

Invisible work, non-promotable tasks, and “volunteer opportunities” (more often volun-told), are an unfortunate reality in the workforce. There are three things every employer should do in relation to these tasks: minimize them, acknowledge them, and distribute them equitably.

Unfortunately, the reality is pretty far from this ideal. Some estimates state up to 75% or more of these time-sucking, minimally career beneficial activities are typically foisted on women in the workplace and are a leading driver behind burnout in female employees. The sinister thing about this is most people are completely blind to these factors; it’s referred to as invisible work for a reason.

Research from Harvard Business Review* found that 44% more requests are presented to women as compared to men for “non-promotable” or volunteer tasks at work. Non-promotable tasks are activities such as planning holiday events, coordinating workplace social activities, and other ‘office housework’ style activities that benefit the office but typically don’t provide career returns on the time invested. The work of the ‘office mom’ often goes unacknowledged or, if she’s lucky, maybe garners some brief lip service. Don’t be that boss that gives someone a 50hr workload task for a 2-second dose of “oh yeah thanks for doing a bajillion hours of work on this thing I will never acknowledge again and won’t help your career.”  Yes, that’s a thing. Don’t do it. If you do it, don’t be surprised when you have more vacancies than staff. You brought that on yourself.

There is a lot of top-tier talent out there in the market right now. To be competitive, consider implementing some culture renovations so you can have a more equitable, and therefore more attractive, work culture to retain your top talent.

What we want to do:

  1. Identify and minimize invisible work in your organization
  2. Acknowledge the work that can’t be avoided. Get rid of the blind part.
  3. Distribute the work equitably.

Here is a simple example:

Step 1: Set up a way for staff to anonymously bring things to your attention. Perhaps a comment box. Encourage staff to bring unsung heroes in the office to your attention. Things they wish their peers or they themselves received acknowledgment for.

Step 2: Read them and actually take them seriously. Block out some time on your calendar and give it your full attention.

For the sake of demonstration, let’s say someone leaves a note about how Caroline always tidies up the breakroom at the end of the day and cleans the coffee pot with supplies Caroline brings from home. Now that we have identified a task, we are going to acknowledge it, minimize it, and consider the distribution of labor.

Step 3: Thank Caroline at the team meeting for scrubbing yesterday’s burnt coffee out of the bottom of the pot every day. Don’t gloss over it. Make the acknowledgment mean something. Buy her some chips out of the vending machine or something. The smallest gestures can have the biggest impact when coupled with actual change.

Step 4: Remind your staff to clean up after themselves. Caroline isn’t their mom. If you have to, enforce it.

Step 5: Put it in the office budget to provide adequate cleaning supplies for the break room and review your custodial needs. This isn’t part of Caroline’s job description and she could be putting that energy towards something else. Find the why of the situation and address it.

You might be rolling your eyes at me by now, but the toll of this unpaid invisible work has real costs.  According to the 2021 Women in the Workplace Report* the ladies are carrying the team, but getting little to none of the credit. Burnout is real and ringing in at an all-time high across every sector of the economy. To be short, women are sick and tired of getting the raw end of the deal, and after 2 years of pandemic life bringing it into ultra-sharp focus, are doing something about it. In the report, 40% of ladies were considering jumping ship. Data indicates that a lot of them not only manned the lifeboats but landed more lucrative positions than they left. Now is the time to score and then retain top talent. However, it is up to you to make sure you are offering an environment worth working in.

*Note: the studies cited here do not differentiate non-cis-identifying persons. It is usually worse for individuals in the LGBTQIA+ community.

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