This is a letter that was sent to Don Lawby, President of Century 21 Canada, from clients of mine who have become great friends! It's such a great story that I'm re-posting it from the Century 21 Canada Blog on to mine, complete with pictures. ENJOY!
A Tale of Real Estate Betrayal, Redemption and Friendship
The following is a letter personally addressed to me from clients of a CENTURY 21 realtor. Read it and you'll know why it took 2nd Place in our "We Work Hard for the Money" contest.
Once Upon a Time
About 7 years ago, I was starting my new marriage off saddled with debt and going through a radical career change from a salaried to straight commission job. We drove by a character house that looked cheap and I wrote the phone number of the listing agent, Stephan Rill.
Our First Meeting
I called Stephan to ask some basic questions about the house. He was courteous, very helpful, and most polite. My wife and I chatted about it, and because the house required some sweat equity, and I have a severe lack of handyman skills, we pursued it no further. But we knew we needed a realtor to find just the right place for us in our budget, so I called Stephan back a short time afterwards and asked him if he would take us around and show us some properties.
After qualifying us in detail, and learning about what we were seeking, Stephan started taking us to view properties; some we selected, and some he selected. He handed us a Buyer's Agency Agreement, asking us to commit to him as our agent. We told him that we would review it and return to him signed on our next outing.
The day before our next scheduled property viewings with Stephan, my folks mentioned a new development in Surrey of townhouses, called Skylands, that were starting to be sold. They were at the very ceiling of our budget, but the pics looked awesome, so we went in to have a look. We had not mentioned this visit to Stephan, it was all kind of spur of the minute, and I felt a little awkward at looking at a place without his knowledge. We fell in love with the place. When they asked if I had a realtor, I said yes. They asked if I signed a contract with him and I said no. They said if I elected not to involve my realtor in the purchase that they’d provide a new washer and dryer for us. We signed on the spot.
As we were to embarrassed to tell Stephan, we decided to go on the viewings with him, contact him the next day, and tell him we decided to buy new, without him! Stephan picked us up asking for the Buyer's contract, I fibbed and told him that we forgot it and would give it to him the next time we met. At the first or second place we looked at, the owner of a prospective property we'd met at the Surrey townhouses came to the door. She recognized my wife and I and said something to the effect of, “Oh hey! You just bought at Skylands, I remember seeing you!"
The Breakup, the Shame
Rather than go red-faced and shout at me, Stephan very politely informed me that what I did was unfair to him. I agreed, but what could I do? My deal was already done. Stephan and I parted ways ... Him upset, professionally composed. I swore to myself and my wife after that, the next time we sell and buy we would make it up to Stephan and use his services. My wife hates clutter and doesn’t let me put anything on our fridge but, to help us live with the shame of our mistake, she put Stephan’s fridge magnet with his photo on our fridge, where it remained for several years.
The Reconciliation and Repaying a Debt
A couple years later, with property values rapidly increasing and my career going well, we decided it was time to step out of the townhouse and into a house. I called Stephan. I carefully framed my side of the conversation ahead of time:
Me: “Hello Stephan. This is James Tucker. Do you remember me?”
Stephan: “Your name rings a bell...”
Me: "I f**ked you over a couple years ago and bought a townhouse without you, the day before viewing properties with you."
Stephan: "Oh yes, I remember you very clearly now.”
Me: "It’s time to make it up to you; we would like to list our property with you.”
This time, when Stephan brought over the Buyer’s Agency Agreement, we signed it promptly, at which point, we all laughed!
Best Friends Forever
Stephan sold our property to the second viewer and got us a great price for it. He then found our dream house and negotiated a terrific price for us. Over the past 7 years we started to socialize with each other's families. In fact, this past January, Stephan and I and our wives spent 10 lovely days together in Cabo San Lucas for the vacation of a lifetime. Even though I caught four Marlin and Stephan didn’t catch any, we are still best of friends.
We’ve been wanting to move out to the country for a couple of years, so started doing some research. When I asked Stephan about it, he said he didn’t know the Chilliwack area and offered to refer us to a real estate agent that specialized in that market. We refused, citing we would rather deal with him because we trust him so deeply then with somebody with local market expertise but no relationship with us. He agreed to do it for us, even though it was an 80 to 90 minute drive every time going out to look at places. Over this two year period we probably dragged him out for half a dozen viewings and ate up hours and hours of his time with questions, and having him reach out to realtors for more information about select properties. We finally found the perfect home on the perfect property with the perfect view - but at an imperfect price.
And We Lived Happily Ever After
This week, Stephan sold our home for over list price within 5 days of hitting the MLS, and negotiated the purchase of our new home on Chilliwack Mountain, knocking an atrocious $58K off of the $959K list price, for a place that in recent weeks had just reduced their list price from $999K. Stephan has some really shrewd negotiating skills!
I, too, am a professional salesman. I have referred Stephan to several friends and family that have either bought or sold through him, or are about to. I understand the motto that, in sales, a happy customer tells a friend, and an unhappy customer tells 10 friends.
I’d like to add to that motto: An extremely happy customer tells everyone, and will keep telling everyone until they run out of breath. Stephan Rill's business card, with his picture, alongside his CENTURY 21 calendar, are still the only things my wife allows on our fridge to this day!
James & Claudia
Formerly of Surrey and now the top of Chilliwack Mountain, BC