Archive for the ‘Stories from the trenches!’ Category

When I got into real estate, 22+ years ago, the old-timers would always tell me, “the first offer you get on a listing will usually be the best offer.”  In reality, I think what they meant to tell me was that the first offer would likely come from the most interested buyer.  Right now, in this incredibly uncertain market, I believe that old adage to be truer than true!

There is so much inventory out there right now. Each seller needs to carefully weigh the benefit of having a SOLD home vs. trying to wait on the next buyer. Guess what? None of us truly knows when the next buyer, with money, might show up! Within the last 6 months I had a listing that was listed at $398K. It was vacant and the seller had moved on and purchased another home. SO… this seller was paying two mortgages. We had a buyer who brought a low offer and eventually he came up to a price of $360K. I encouraged my seller to take it!! It was fall, winter was around the corner, and there were other homes in the subdivision that were available. If we didn’t take this joker, one of the other sellers would. And they did! My seller turned down the offer, the buyer bought the home down the street for way less money, and whammo! We had another comp in the neighborhood that was lower in price than ours was!! An appraisal nightmare….The seller ended up carrying that house all winter and closing on it in March, for $332,500!! Another compelling tale would be this one: I saw a home get re-listed in the MLS today for $829,000. This is a property that has been on the market off and on since November of 2007!!! YEP! It started out at an exceptionally unrealistic price of $1,900,000. When the market started its’ record setting downward spiral, the price started dropping. At some point, it went into foreclosure. When I wrote an offer on it over 18 months ago, my client offered $900,000!!!! At that time it was in “short sale” status and some very intelligent banker made the executive decision not to take our offer. (I forgot to mention here that the home had LIVE termites in it, and the basement was leaking like a sieve all 3 times my buyer looked at it!) So, here it is, over a year and a half later, listed for $829,900. When I quickly add up the carrying costs of that particular property, it just blows my mind. The bank had to pay the real estate taxes for the last couple years, utility bills to keep pipes from bursting, attorney fees to foreclose etc, etc, etc. I am guessing that Mr. Banker now wishes he had taken our offer and ran far, far away with it in order to stop the bleeding.

So now that I am an “old timer,” I find myself counseling the agents in my office, and my sellers, on the merits of getting an offer on a listing. Buyers just are not making emotional purchases anymore! They want to have bragging rights, and they have more choices than ever before. If your home is on the market, and you are fortunate enough to have a buyer who has picked your home out of the plethora of choices in front of him, you better weigh the pros and cons very carefully. It could be months before you see another offer on your property. Call me if you are in a jam and I will give you my sound advice!

don't let this happen to you.....

Until next time,



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I am thinking that my relationship with my new buyer is strained, to put it very kindly….. I have neither the patience, nor the intestinal fortitude, to spend another day with this joker…..PLEASE, leave a comment if you believe (as he does) that the sign of a very well maintained home is indicated by the ability to graze your fingers along the top of each doorway, in every home, and find no dust when you check your fingertips….

image by Now and Zen Photography

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The sign that you have arrived at one of Kane County's top 2010 top 20 real estate offices!



This was the remark from a fellow Realtor I was with last Thursday night at a function that was sponsored by a loan officer I do a lot of business with. I shrugged my shoulders and told her my company had our best year ever, and I had my best year ever, as well,  in 2010. Then I laughed until I cried when she told me, ” you still have your diamond earrings on… everyone else has hocked theirs!” HAHA!!!

Now, let’s make clear that this is not Teresa Rockefeller authoring the post!! I have beautiful earrings that my husband purchased for me many, many moons ago. MANY moons! At a time in my life (marriage) when earrings were very valued gift. At this time in my life (marriage) a more appreciated gift is a warm dinner, prepared by said spouse, and a laundry basket full of clean and folded laundry, also prepared by said spouse!!! Now that’s my kind of gift!!!

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Myles & Mom... photo courtesy of Roger Brown


That was the beginning of a conversation that I had with an acquaintance while I was attending a very fun holiday party last Saturday night. I asked her right away why she would think that?  She parroted back to me all of the media doom and gloom she has either read about or heard, and then she told me she has SEVERAL friends who are Realtors (Don’t we all???) who are miserable. We compared notes for a little while, and she moved on. (Thankfully!)  Sure, it’s been brutal for the last couple of years, but that’s probably the case for many, many industries out there, not just real-estate. The airlines, the auto industry, the finance world, health care providers, retailers and small businesses across the land, just to name a few. It didn’t take a whole lot of time for me to re-assure myself of all the reasons I am so thankful for my job…. Here are a few:

  • I love a good challenge! Marketing these homes and getting them under contract, and keeping them that way until the closing table is in clear sight, gives me a little adrenaline rush and a sense of pride!
  • I have watched colleagues and whole offices leave my market area, belly up, for the last 3 years… I am proud to still be here, leading an amazing group of Realtors in my office, doing more business than ever before. Our tiny office of 12 agents currently is 5th in volume in Geneva for 2010! The companies ahead of us have no less than 80 agents, each! I LOVE IT!
  • I guess I also like to be appreciated… the sense of accomplishment and thankfulness (from MOST of my clients) makes me feel good! I love a great “thank you” card or a new testimonial for my website….. if folks are impressed enough with your service to take a little time to put it in writing, in this busy world, it makes you feel special.
  • My reputation in the community is growing. I love to share my information and my market knowledge with anybody who asks…. it’s no secret! Those who own real-estate want to know how the market is faring, and what’s going on in their neighborhood….. I’ve seen thousands and thousands of properties in the last 22 years, and I love to compare notes about my observations!
  • I am honored, constantly, by those who choose to hire me for what will probably big one of the biggest transactions, financially, in their lives. Honored by their trust in me and their belief that I will get it done for them.
  • I love to find another way to get something done… this crazy market presents new problems to be solved CONTINUALLY! I enjoy being able to solve them, whatever they are, and move on. When I was business partners with Terra Ayres, I think I drove her nuts! There were times when the logical thing to do would be to cut my losses and move on, but I couldn’t stand walking away from a listing that was in the throes of foreclosure, or a buyer who had “analysis paralysis“! Those transactions were the most frustrating AND the most satisfying, for some weird reason.
  • I have enjoyed a career that is so flexible I can be home with the kids when I want to or need to… take a vacation when I want to…. skip work for the day to head off to a garden walk at the last minute…
  • I have had the luxury of meeting so MANY, MANY great people over the years, sheerly because of my job.
  • Every single listing is DIFFERENT… different sellers, different strategies, different marketing, different buyers, different buyer’s agents… DIFFERENT.

So I guess I don’t hate my job… occasionally, yes, it has its’ moments. Maybe it’s the time of year, or maybe it’s really thankfulness in general, but whatever it is I am still glad to be a part of it!


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Teresa and Myles at the Heritage Prairie Farm

Me and my boy

Not really real-estate related except for the fact that this whole incident DID occur in the Stone Tower Properties office, as follows…….

A couple of Mondays ago, I walked in the front door at about 9 am. Barely got my lap-top plugged in when I heard some sniffling and crying at the front door. When I looked up from my desk, there was a woman standing in the front of the office, crying her eyes out. Of course, I asked her if there was anything I could help her with!!! This was the reply…” My mom just died! She lived in St. Louis and I have to get down there….. I didn’t have enough money to pay my rent on Saturday, and now I only have enough money to get on the train and get to Chicago, I don’t have enough money to buy a bus ticket once I get there… can you help me????”

Well, what was I going to do? Geez… so I opened up my wallet and gave her $20, which was all I had in there! (live by the debit card, die by the debit card!) She thanked me profusely, then left, still weeping. Of course, my husband was upstairs here at the office, listening to this whole scene, and when she finally left, he yelled down the stairs something about me being a bleeding heart liberal a.k.a. SUCKER……

How shocked was I when one of my friends who lives about 2 blocks from this office told me the exact same story, but a different ending…. my friend was wise enough not to pony up the money!!! At this point I was still thinking maybe the girl really needed that dough! My convictions were dashed to shreds on Sunday morning, when I ran smack into her at the French Market here in Geneva, with a nice big  bag of fresh produce, probably purchased with my $20!!! She saw me and avoided all eye contact immediately….dead give-away that I had been ripped off!  Easy come, easy go….

Leave me a comment and let me know…. would you have given the money, or showed her the door?


Teresa Keenan

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before I go any further, I must disclose that this is a TRUE story, not a joke…. so, back to the story….

There were 2 Realtors (I was one of them), 2 attorneys and 2 buyers in a room (it was a room in a local title company, last Thursday…. at a closing!)….the poor buyers reported to me during the closing that their 20 year old cat had passed away. Of course, I offered up my sympathy (as these people were my buyers). They then proceeded to tell me that their children wanted to bury the cat in the NEW yard that they were moving into, and that the veterinarian wanted a mere fortune to keep this recently deceased animal in the feline morgue for a few days, so the cat was safely ensconced in a cooler, on ice, in the back of the husband’s truck…. for 3 days!!!

Now, I can safely say that there was a whole lotta howling going on after this little story was reported at the closing!! The listing agent was crying because she was laughing so hard, and the attorneys were both laughing it up as well.. and that, my friends, is another story from the trenches. Enjoy!


Teresa Keenan

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Real estate postcard cartoon Just an FYI for all of you out there who are using the services of a Realtor right now…… Make sure you choose carefully! Here’s a true tidbit from the trenches……

On Sunday I wrote an offer on a property for some really, really nice buyers that I have been working with. They chose a home that is in “short-sale” position, meaning the sellers are now selling for an amount that will NOT cover what they owe their lender, so they will be “short” of what they owe. In those cases, the lender reviews the contract and all of the financials associated with the file, then the lender decides just  how “short” they are willing to go. So, with all that being said, even a semi-smart person reading this blog could determine that the sellers are probably very stressed and in pretty bad financial straits. RIGHT? Lucky for them, they chose a Realtor who, when I called him on Sunday afternoon to let him know I had an offer for him (buyers are pre-approved for their financing and can close in 30 days!) he said this to me, “call me tomorrow…. I’m going out to get drunk for the Superbowl right now and I’m turning my phone off.” I was beside myself!! The poor sellers had an offer on their house and their own dopey Realtor didn’t even care enough about his responsibility to them or their situation to get this offer on the table and present it. So, it really begs the question…. did you(or will you?) hire a Realtor who is REALLY looking out for the interests of YOU or YOUR FAMILY?? If not, YOU SHOULD!! Until next time,


Teresa Keenan

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