The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Wait, And I Get PAID To Do This??

Miles Driven: 90
Houses Viewed: 7
Paintings by Artists that Rhyme with Lisa Bonet I Was So Close to I Could Have Licked If I Really Wanted To: 1

I’ve been out with a set of clients who I’ve been working with for more than a year for the last few days. They own a 12,000 square foot log cabin in Wyoming that sits on 950 acres and are looking to relocate out to the Phoenix area.

Beyond the fact that their life is different and interesting enough for me to be constantly trying wrap my brain around their 950 acres (I’m always asking them questions like, ‘So, where is your mailbox?’ [Answer: 5 miles down the road] and ‘Can’t you just subdivide the land a whole bunch and sell it to developers?’ [Answer: not so much… that would require roads and utility access and sewers and zoning changes, etc.] and the Wyoming weather (‘It snows 7 to 8 MONTHS out of the year??? Wait, so like how many sweaters do you actually have?’) they are kind of just a fun couple. He has a mocking and sarcastic tone that is reminiscent of my own family (we don’t really trust ‘nice’ people. Making fun is a more genuine way to show affection as far as we’re concerned, and if any of us actually ever say anything kind to one another, well then you KNOW we really mean it and it’s probably causing us pain to do so.). She is sweet and demure until she’s occasionally vulgar in a hilarious manner. They’re down-to-earth rich folk and I feel confident that if they read this they’ll take this description as the compliment I mean it.

We have been looking in the roughly $1 to $2 million range in primarily Scottsdale and Fountain Hills, and let me tell you, we’ve scoured the price range. We’ve gotten to the point where I feel pretty confident I can tell the possibilities from the dogs without taking my clients through. We’ve worked out a system where they comb through the listings online and identify the ones that might work and I preview the houses and take a quick video of layout so that we can narrow the list further.

They came into town for the first time in several months this week. We’ve been planning for this for about 6 weeks; previewing and searching and creating a list of viable options. We narrowed the field down to 15 candidates which we have been viewing in person the last few days.

I have to say, if I could easily specialize in the luxury home buying process, I would. You know, unlike any other Realtor in the Phoenix metro area. They would all hate it, I’m sure. But whatever, I’ve got a taste of the good stuff, and I’m loving it. It’s fun to get to know your client’s wants and desires as well as your own. It’s lovely to enjoy stunning views and pick apart gourmet kitchens (“I don’t know… it doesn’t have a pot filler, my clients are really looking for a kitchen with a double ovens, a subzero, two dishwashers AND a pot filler. I don’t know if this is going to fly.”). It’s fabulous to tour winding streets up the sides of mountains and hear from listing agents about the wildlife seen (javalina, coyotes, mountain lions, tarantulas and the occasional giant hairy desert scorpion).

The problem is it’s a market hard to cultivate. Buyers in the upper price ranges are few and far between to begin with (whereas the majority of buyers will purchase in the $100K to $200K at least once in their lives) and they tend to put down roots. People who spend $1.5 million aren’t looking to move again in three years generally speaking. Also, many of the people buying in the Phoenix metro area in that price range are coming in from out of state. They are second home buyers from chilly states, or corporate drones relocated in. How do you market to a crowd that geographically diverse? It’s a lucky break to get a buyer in that price range.

Today we visited a house in Fountain Hills in one of the most exclusive communities in the city, Shadow Canyon. The house is listed for about $1.7 million and sits up on one of the highest points in Fountain Hills. It has the kind of view from every single one of the windows in the house that ruins you on every view you’ll ever see again. I spent most of the 45 minutes we were in the home transfixed in front of the closest window; practically hypnotized by the sprawling mountains, desert landscape, Four Peaks and the famous ‘fountain’ of Fountain Hills dancing before me.

The house, according to the listing agent, is owned by a 90 year old couple as a vacation home. They are selling to move into an assisted living facility. They own an island somewhere and insane amounts of art. In fact, we were told we wouldn’t be able to see the house without the listing agent present because of the crazy amounts of valuable property to be potentially stolen.

At one point, I was waiting in the hallway for my client (she takes extensive notes of all of the properties we see) and I glanced over at the painting I was standing next to only to see the unforgettable (yes, I’m a bit of an art geek; Jason and I took art history together in college and loved it) signature of Claude Monet on a waterlily-ish type oil painting. I got a little bit fan-girl for a minute and went running in to the other room to find the listing agent.

“That’s not a REAL Monet in the entry way, is it?” I asked, willing my voice not to crack with excitement.

“Well… um, yes. That’s why I have to be here with you,” she replied.

Wow. Sometimes I really love my job.

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