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The day I made a client cry

Posted on Monday, May 8, 2017

Have you ever upset somebody? Not intentionally, but told somebody something they don’t want to hear, really believing you are doing the best thing?  I have.  I am not proud.  In fact it upset me too.  I made an old lady cry.  It certainly wasn’t my intention.  I want to share with you what happened so understand that estate agents do have hearts.  You see my job is about people.  Not houses.  That might sound a little odd, but hopefully you’ll soon understand.  Here is my story.    

Meet Jack and Barbara

I met Jack and Barbara last year. They are an older couple in their 80’s and have been married for almost 60 years. They were childhood sweethearts. They had lived in their home all their married lives. Whilst only a small 3 bed terrace they had raised 3 children here. Their home was well maintained. The kitchen and bathroom were of an older style. The decor was anaglypta and the carpets patterned. They didn’t really want to move but health dictated they needed to as they really struggling with the stairs and a stair lift couldn’t be fitted. What struck me was they had dressed up to meet me. Maybe they always dressed like this, I don’t know. Barbara was wearing a matching twin-set. Jack was in a suit jacket with a tie. They sat side by side in matching armchairs. We chatted about their situation over a cup of tea.


Their story

I asked them to show me around their home.  The value was under £100,000 taking into account the area, the size and condition.  It was a home which a first time buyer would buy.  Any buyer would want to update it.  It needed gas central heating.  The kitchen and bathroom would require replacing despite being looked after.  So far everything was going well.  I knew their reason for moving.  I had seen their home.  They knew a buyer would want to change things, their grandchildren had already pointed that out to them.  We talked about the house value.  We talked about how best to get that price and how we would look after them.  They didn’t understand the internet.  That was fine.  I didn’t expect them to really.  The main thing was they trusted me to do my best by them.


I asked them where they wanted to move to.  Had they seen something?  Barbara’s eyes lit up.  She told me how she had always wanted a bungalow.  She wanted a home on one level with a little garden.  I asked her where she would like to be.  She named the places.  Some of those area’s would cost at least £150,000, others possibly £120,000. I  gently asked if they had savings.  She told me they had.  And this is where it all started to go wrong.  They only had £3000 saved up. There was no way they could afford a bungalow and I had to tell them.


I’ll never forget how her eyes filled up.  How she took a tissue out of the box on the side table next to her. How here husband took hold of her hand and told her everything would be ok.  He told her how he had never let her down in 60 years of marriage.  He told me sometimes his wife had to wait longer for things then he would have liked but they always got there in the end.  The love between then was indescribable.  I had to blink away my own tears.  More importantly I felt compelled to help them.  He promised her if she wanted a bungalow, he would find her one.


Despite asking them to think about things first, we put their home up for sale the following week.  As expected a buyer was found relatively quickly.  I asked the buyer if he would wait whilst I helped this couple in their property search.  I didn’t want them to feel pressurised.  I felt a need to look after them.


Finding their next home

We tried everything.  Retirement apartments were a no go.  We tried the council for a bungalow.  So did their solicitor.  I recommended park homes.  They refused to see them likening them to a caravan.  They came in the office often and we did an internet search with them.  Barbara still wanted a bungalow.  I still tried to explain that sadly bungalows were out of their reach.  I started to suggest different areas.


It’s interesting what’s important to different people.  Jack was quite easy.  He wanted his wife happy. Barbara however wanted to keep the same doctors surgery and the same hairdresser.  Whatever she bought had to be on a good bus route.  She wanted a few local shops close by.


Weeks passed until one day we convinced them to just a visit a park home.


A happy end

I’ll never forget when they came and told me they had found their new home.  She showed me the details of her “bungalow”.  It was only a few years old.  It was modern and stylish. I t allowed them to put money in the bank and have some real savings.  It was what we call Park Homes.  However to Barbara it was a bungalow.  To her, year round caravan sites were park homes, not what she was buying.  Jack winked at me and reminded me he has never let his wife down and he never will!


My name is Michelle.  This is a true story however names have been changed.  At JDG we are here to help you.  Selling home is about people.  Everybody has a reason to move.  Everybody’s story is different.  If you’d like to talk about your moving journey and we can help, please call us on 01524 843322.  You can also email me at michelle@jdg.co.uk