Hell to the No

I’m closer buying a house than I ever have been. The house I rent is way underpriced. It got me thinking that there is a deal for a house that I can do. And . . . someone in my circle of trust is just getting started with real estate. So it seemed like it might work to explore purchasing a home through him. Until we started talking about it. Not gonna happen. Not with him. That’s two rude real estate agents I’ve met in the last few years.

I am a cab driver who lately pays his bills doing computer-whack-a-mole. I get a first impression in a few seconds. I make a lot of decisions in that few seconds. If I am working one decision is whether you are getting out of the cab now or at the end of the ride.Somebody that wants to sell me a house has to make a good first impression. This guy failed.

I pay attention to small non-verbal details. The way you stand, the way you talk, how hard is it to get you to engage with me. My job can be deadly. It matters what I decide about you based on these non-verbal queues. This guy’s non-verbal queues said I’d asked him to eat a turd.

It starts with a Facebook post where I suggest that my house is a bargain and wondering if there are other bargains. Then during Sunday pre & post worship there was the usual chit chat and promises that we should get together for coffee. He sounded interested enough that I wanted to sound him out. So we started e-mailing back & forth.

Tonight was informative. Our church is hosting some local homeless women for a week My sales dude is coordinating the endeavor. He scheduled his meeting with me for 6pm, when the women were scheduled to arrive. What I hear in a choice like this is some conflicting feelings about selling me a house.

I expected one of two things. Either we would be interrupted by volunteers as we tried to talk or it would turn out that he was needed and couldn’t give me the time he had offered. We talked for a half-hour. I felt like I was doing all the selling, not him.

His pitch was to show me some brochures that he read from. I may be and old fart who remembers the world before Al Gore invented the Inter-webby Tubes. I can use the webb’s, though. If all he had for me was stuff I can find on Goggle why am I wasting an hour meeting him? I expect a subject matter expert to know this stuff. He should not need Cliff Notes on things like what it takes to qualify for a mortgage or the difference between a buyer’s agent and a designated agent. He had his eyes glued to the mortgage company’s brochure. He would not meet my eyes. You would think I’d shown up contagious or something.

I expect sales people to feign interest. I also expect them to do the homework before a meeting so they know the material. I don’t care that they only look at me as dollars. I get that. My cab customers are money to me. All their other stuff isn’t interesting to me. If I can trust them to pay me I like them. If it feels like I may not get paid I want them out of my life. I, along the way to getting paid, have to sell the idea that I care about giving a good experience for the short time of the ride. I expect the same out of my sales people.

The difficulty getting him to give me a meeting and then his nervousness and awkward body language set me off. I lost all interest in finding a home through him. Then one more thing that fixed it. By far, the biggest strategy I use is to listen to my customer. I listen with all five senses. I tend to let them speak first and then find some surfacey, chatty thing to say for a few minutes until I get them where they are going. This guy was rude. He talked over me. I’d say something he’d ignore then nervously talk about the brochures he’d brought.

He ended by suggesting I go back to Social Services and seek out Section 8 Assistance. I know Section 8 as a program to subsidize rent payments for those that qualify. I also know it as one way public housing is funded. So, by suggesting I apply for Section 8 he is implying that I get help paying rent in public housing?

It left me feeling disrespected. On the way home I yelled at the radio that I don’t need to be put back in the cage as the token homeless guy the church keeps around as a pet they can bring out when they need to signal virtuous compassion to those less fortunate. I’ve busted my ass over the last 15 years to get to today. It pisses me off to be treated like I am still the recently convicted wife beater and homeless guy that I was back then.

I felt disrespected. I live in the ghetto. Want to get shot? Disrespect the wrong guy. Definitely don’t be a real estate agent and be rude to a potential home buyer. -1 possible agent for me.

I know that there are bargains in Richmond, VA. I know from rude agent that the market is hot right now. I’ve been watching property values the whole 15 years. There is a sweet spot in Richmond real estate prices where you can find distressed homes for well under six figures. My son is grown, there is no woman in my life at the moment (wish there was), so I can afford to take on properties which would not work for others.

Some years ago when I still lived in a hotel I had a similar reaction to another agent. The mortgage broker was more on his game than this agent. She was a lot more story, drama than I like in my sales people. Plus, I wasn’t ready. My problem with her is that it was like pulling teeth to get her to reply to me.

Am I annoying? You read my blog, you know. I am also very smart and resourceful. I got here by being persistent and resilient. I don’t need people in my life who still think of me as I was 15 years ago. Some of the folk in my church are stuck in 1999.

I also know that there is a real estate agent who will be my champion and help me find the right deal. It will be an agent who understands the sales game and does a little wooing along the way. It will also be somebody who is more Yankee pushy than Antebellum South indifferent. Rude agent isn’t that guy. He’s a bean counter that somebody fired and it shows. He’s been in the sun too long and the exposure is getting to him.

I’ll make this declaration. I will buy a house in the next two years. It will not be with rude agent. Check back in two years and see how it comes out.


I Want to be a Redneck

First Posted 18-Feb-2015

I’m not from Richmond, VA. I’m from Turnersville, NJ in Whitman Square. I grew up with a lot of Eastern European and Italian families who didn’t seem to need a day job. There were a lot of Cadillac’s and nice German sedans in the driveways of my neighbors. My Dad was a bit of an oddball, with his job designing power supplies for main-frame computers, his love of Mexican food, and his fondness for the Beach Boys. His beloved Chevy II station wagon was a bit low-brow for our neighborhood. His adopted home didn’t quite get his fashion choices—the turtleneck sweater and pocket protector—very cool for Berkeley, CA in the ‘50’s but out of place in Whitman Square.

redneck-womanI am not an expert on what makes a redneck. Even my Scots/Irish heritage doesn’t help, complicated as it is by marriage to the daughter of a Russian Jew and an old money Yankee. But, lately, certain politicians have taken to battering rednecks as no account, stupid Luddites who cling to their guns & religion. I just posted an anti-racism rant that should bring warm fuzzies to my Peepulz Demokratik Republik of Bezerkeley friends. It is one of those pieces of orthodoxy you have to plant your flag on to be included as one of the good guys in that clique. A laughing mockery of rednecks as backward racist hicks who stupidly stick to outdated tradition is another tick-mark on the checklist. If being a redneck means:

  • Honoring Tradition.
  • Honoring Thy Father & Mother
  • Honoring God and Country
  • Owning, and properly using weapons for self-protection and hunting. Yes, weapon. Any of our soldiers will tell you that your genitalia is your gun. The AR-15 you have in your hands is a weapon, not a gun. Get it straight. Gun control means controlling where you put that genitalia–a good idea.
  • Owning and caring for land that provides for my family
  • Delighting in good music and dance
  • Enjoying arts & crafts as a natural part of daily life
  • Telling great stories, old and new
  • Making Moon-shine
  • Being suspicious of needless government

Here, I’ll say it in French so the folk in Berkeley will think it’s cool: “Si je suis à étiqueter, un redneck racistes stupides pour les attributs ci-dessus alors je veux être un plouc. Si je perds lecteurs et sont rejetés pour les 10 qualités ci-dessus alors je veux être un plouc. Je ne gagne rien en essayant de tenir dans une foule qui prétend être de la diversité et pourtant me fuit parce que je ne rentre pas leur modèle superficielle du prolétariat. Si je fuyais et étiqueté un redneck parce que je ne pas génuflexion devant une statue de Mao cinq fois par jour alors je veux être un plouc..” I read the FoxFire magazines as a kid. I loved them. I loved it that there were folk who didn’t need everything we had in our Whitman Square home to have a good life. I still do. I wasn’t born a redneck. A lot of what characterizes a redneck are qualities I admire and try to embody. I’d like that to mean that I can deemed to be a redneck. Even if it means being shunned (again) by my PDRB friends.