At Long Last, Hope
Last July, I had the privilege of listing a real, historic Capitol Hill beauty. It wasn’t a quick process but a thorough one with two people I’d come to respect and admire over many months, each for their discernment, proactive nature and a true positive look ahead to the next chapter in their lives.
Thankfully, their 17th Avenue East home was sold in just 7 days. Seattle’s market had already begun its slow-down, having reached its peak last May. Hindsight only confirmed my suspicions. Along the way, my clients and I shared excitement, frustration, disappointment and relief, and even though I wanted to pull out my hair (what little there is) more than once while working with the other side, closing day arrived and everybody got what they wanted…or needed.
The day after closing day is when it hit. It’d been 8 months since my father died, and while I gave myself a lot of space to grieve – and to feel or face all kinds of other emotions – the sudden and vast emptiness I experienced after such a busy few months was terrifying. Without additional prospects on the real estate docket, I decided it was time to just be terrified, lost, uncertain about the future and, as my husband noted, less than cheerful. The death of my father presented me with a whole new world, at once familiar and notably peculiar.
In that abyss, with appropriate support, hope emerged along with a bit of faith and some trust. Working to prepare and sell that home on Cap Hill restored a confidence in myself that had gone missing though I didn’t know it. Intuitively, I do know exactly what to do and how to do it or will find out. I’m ultra-careful, super efficient and very organized. I listen, gather or share information and respond effectively. There’s always much to learn in any one real estate deal, but, at the core, I care about the people I get to work with and work tirelessly to get them the best results possible. These are precious qualities I’d forgotten about, and, not only are they useful, I once again recognize their value, if to no one but myself.
Flash: I’m an Introvert
Dangling in the abyss allowed me to piece together some other truths. Here’s one: I finally started to embrace my introverted personality. I’ve never had trouble understanding I’m an introvert, but I’m not sure I ever owned it.
Something I recently read made it really click – “I don’t like small talk, but I can talk about life all day long.” I believe in the journey, the walk along the path toward the next pit stop. That path could include preparing for a month’s stay in Paris, saving for a long, winding train trip through Scandinavia, starting a new business, taking a language class or getting into a new home or shedding an old one.
Many assume real estate brokers are extroverts, outgoing, bar-hopping, dinner partying people. Actually, most people – in or not in the business – will claim it’s better to be more of an extrovert, even citing it as a requirement for success. Honestly, it seems many brokers are naturally able to stack their calendars with one social event after another, mingling well wherever they are. That’s great for them…but it’s not for me.
I’m not the expected social butterfly infused with boundless energy often found in the real estate profession. I don’t drink or party (sober 29 years…coming up later this month), so I don’t go to bars, breweries or wine-tastings. We don’t entertain at home, so both Roger (also an introvert) and I, over time, find it less painful to be in small groups elsewhere. Forget about mingling in large groups with no particular purpose at hand.
Don’t get me wrong. I have a good time…in my own way. You’ll find me salivating with anticipation when a new bakery opens up or sudden free-time means a trip to Espresso Vivace. I don’t enjoy coffee just anywhere though I will try it everywhere. When it comes to local exploration, walking tours, museums, hikes, French classes and good eats, I’m all over it.
And, we also hang at home with our pooch, Sophie, binging the latest British detective show or trying new recipes by The Barefoot Contessa or recently, trying new bakes as seen on the Great British Baking Show. Afternoons, with nothing else going on, will pester me to take a nap…so I often give in. I endlessly try to find what makes Seattle (and me) tick, a pursuit that may never end.
Curiously, I can be IN FRONT OF a group of people, even an auditorium brimming with bright faces. I’m not afraid of the microphone or camera, making a video, being a guest on the radio or showing up on tv. I confer easily in private consultation about your real estate desires and am completely comfortable one-on-five when it comes to conversations about the home we’re standing in during an open house or while bantering about real estate more broadly. In these interactions, there’s clear purpose, making it much easier to be a part of rather than apart from the group. Ultimately, because I’m an introvert, fully loaded with all the qualities that come with it, you’ll have a really smart, thoughtful, thorough, competent advocate – and broker – on your side when it comes time to find or sell a home.
Be the Curator: Your Seattle Life
Being a Realtor® isn’t really about selling real estate. For some it is – and that’s fine – just not for me. I’ve tried to make it about capturing a sale, but it leaves out the juicy potential for a greater experience. For me, it’s about living in the Pacific Northwest, navigating Seattle, discovering our diverse neighborhoods and connecting with place. While visiting the new Nordic Museum in Ballard recently, one of the mantras seemed to center around an astute “awareness of place.” That awareness, I believe, opens the space for real, human connections, too.
Being a real estate broker is about discovery of another, of place, of self. It’s about being a caring ear and a guide. It’s about gently prying open possibilities or thinking stuck in expectations. It’s about being an advisor and a consultant, an advocate and a manager. It’s about being a part-time curator, a path-builder toward the next story you want to tell.
The next time somebody tells you that you have to be an extrovert to be a “successful” or “good” real estate broker, remember that this life-long, self-embracing introvert advocates for the quality – over quantity – of life’s experiences.
MARK JACOBS, REALTOR®