People often speak about hindsight and how if they had only known yesterday what they know today that they could have done a better job. In many ways that is true, but what we often fail to think about is how much we gain from an unexpected event.
Last May at the REALTORS® Midyear Meetings in Washington, D.C., I attended the CIPS International Breakfast. As is the custom in such a small group we all introduced ourselves. Always it is interesting to listen to where others in the group come from and what their areas of specialization are. That act of introducing oneself is a way of re-affirming the concept of a small well-networked group of real estate professionals that operates in a very large world.
At the conclusion of the breakfast Nita Pichedvanichok, a CIPS from Whittier, California who is currently serving at the NAR President’s Liaison to Thailand, approached me. Nita was looking for a CIPS in Boston. In addition to being a CIPS, I also hold an appointment as a Research Affiliate at MIT and work as a Consultant; I am now engaged in a project on the Boston real estate market for an agency of the City of Boston. Nita needed help finding a second home in Boston for customers from Thailand. Their children attend various schools in the Boston area and because these students are far from home, their parents want them to have a place to congregate.
Two weeks later, the customers came to Boston. We toured properties in various Boston neighborhoods. They chose a four-bedroom condominium in one of Boston’s most beautiful buildings—but not without consulting Nita! Because of the relationship that Nita had established with these customers, and knowing some of the issues that they would not feel comfortable discussing with a new REALTOR®, Nita flew to Boston to inspect the property. She was equipped to sort out Feng Shui issues that pertain to the purchase of new property. Her relationship with the customers and her knowledge of Feng Shui enabled the transaction to move forward; the customers felt secure with their decision. Nita and I combined our strengths to make our customers feel comfortable and to make the transaction go smoothly.
Sensitivity to a belief in Feng Shui is important. A competent, culturally sensitive REALTOR® should ask a customer if he believes in Feng Shui. Some may say that they do; others may not. Nita believes that it is advisable to tell your customers that you have worked with others who believe in Feng Shui and then to let the customer tell you what he would consider to be good Feng Shui. Each country has different beliefs (e.g., the door facing west may not be good for a buyer from Thailand but may work for a Chinese or Vietnamese person) and so a REALTOR® must discover what is important to each individual customer.
Bill Gosz, Esq. assisted in the negotiation. Phone calls and faxes were essential in the early stages of the transaction and Bill often placed phone calls to Thailand at midnight to work out one or another point. He also formed a corporation in which to hold the property.
But this is not where the story ends. Two months later our customers returned to Boston to take their children to school and to close on their new condominium, which still needed to be furnished. Subsequent to a closing I would normally not be working with the buyers. Because these customers were from a different country and culture, I cleared my calendar and for one week I worked with them to find furniture, sheets and pots and pans, rugs, lighting, televisions and other items—everything that anyone would need to furnish a home. Because the transaction was closed did not mean that it was appropriate to leave my customers to find their own way in a new and different culture. In what can only be described as an environment that is foreign, I believed that I needed to include services that I would not ordinarily provide.
In real estate we deal with people. As such, we also need to function as the individuals we are rather than as the REALTORS® we are in our professional lives. Two months after the closing the occasional occupants of the condominium arrived. I scheduled and received deliveries of all the merchandise and made sure that all was arranged as my customers had planned. They found it fully furnished and cleaned.
Only as a collaborative effort could this have worked as smoothly as it did. Nita and I partnered well, exchanging information throughout the process, learning from one another, and improvising as necessary in order to assure that all would go smoothly. At no time did we lose contact with the customers or with one another. I like to think that in an industry that is based on services, that we have provided customers with special needs what they needed and that we have learned and grown from this experience. We have both gained much.
As my friend Nita says, “Life is always beautiful.”
|Written by:||Marsha J. Price, CIPS|