Real Estate Has a Sense of Humor

Posted on January 1, 2013 by

Deborah Harris - Auctioneer DaysWith over 30 years of Atlanta real Estate under my belt, one begins to think you’ve heard or seen it all.  Not true!   As an analytical person that usually utilizes this column to the explain Atlanta market statistics, I decided the end of the year needed a little levity.  Those of you that know me, would state that I have a healthy sense of humor anyway.  Therefore, this column is devoted to the more humorous true stories I have experienced in real estate.

Auctions and Land:

  1. In 1983, I went to Mendenhall Auction School in North Carolina, exactly 20 years after my Dad had graduated from the same auction school.  He fronted the money for the school and the expenses for me to attend, on the condition, that we deduct it from future auction commissions. Well, in the eighties, auction and real estate were mostly male occupations. Therefore, 90% of a class of 100 was men.  The first day of school, the schoolmaster, Mr. Mendenhall, announced that, “We have a very special student here.  She is the second generation to attend auction school, and, her father is the President of the National Auctioneers Association.”  With that, everyone wanted to meet me, and, a group invited me to play poker with them.  Well, I inherited my math and card playing abilities from Dad, and, I am sure this group had no idea who they were tangling with. The following Monday after my graduation from school, I was in my Dad’s office, when I started counting of hundreds of dollars to him.  “Here’s the tuition money.  Here’s the expense money.  And, I am keeping the rest”, I exclaimed.  “Where did you get all that money, girl?” my father questioned.  “I won it playing poker with the rednecks that wanted to learn to sell cows and tobacco,” I proudly said.  With that, he slammed his fist on his desk and stated, “Way to go, Girl!”
  2. For those that know me, it is probably hard to believe I was ever shy, nervous, or insecure.  But, as a youngster, trying to tread in a man’s world, I was.  My first really big presentation (without Dad) was to a boardroom of men at Proctor and Gamble.  You could hear the trembling in my voice as I spoke.  Harris Auction Service was up against Hudson and Marshall, and JL Todd, two of the country’s biggest auction companies at the time.  I was shocked when I received the call that we got the deal.  During the course of setting up the auction, I got to know some of those very board members pretty well.  And, after the auction was over and we had done beyond expectations, I asked one of them, “What put us over the edge, to get this job?”  He said. Remember what you wore that day?”  I said, “Navy suit, white blouse.”  He said, “Your written hand outs were excellent, but none of us heard a word you said, because your center button on your blouse had come undone, and all we saw was the white lace bra.”  I should have worn that blouse for every presentation (in the younger days).  Just kidding!   Oh, well, that accident gave me the opportunity to prove what a great job our company did and success got us many more auctions.
  3. Land auctions are usually done in counties that did not require paving and they did 99 tracts (less than 100) to avoid HUD development requirements. On one such 300+ acre auction in Moultrie, GA, we had advertised all over newspaper and radio, “Register to Win a Free Truck.” We had the local church to bring food to sell and expected 300-400 in attendance.  With over 1000 registered bidders, we had a lively auction, ran out of food, and, needless to say, the portable toilets were above capacity.  Well, one of the owners, was an ex college football jock, that had gained a substantial amount of weight, and, unfortunately had the gout in one foot.  At the end of the auction, he proceeded to the port-a-potty on his crutches.  As an onlooker, I watched this painful movement.  Next thing I see, the toilet tilts on a 20 degree angle, then rights itself back upright.  The very pale and shocked man exits to exclaim (with one crutch), “It was slick in there, and hard to hop to turn around, and for a moment, I thought I was going to drown in all my ex-wives crap!”
  4. After that successful land auction, we re-evaluated our formula for land in parcels into what I called “Busting up a Tract of Land”.  The same advertising blast, but the public had a week to pick out their tract at a predetermined price, OR, compete with a few thousand other bidders for the same parcel.  We had, “Register to Win Up To $10,000” for which one could hand-write to register on our forms 5 times per day every day.  I had an oversize van that I, loaded up with potential buyers to show the property, and told them to remember the parcel number for their Purchase and Sale Agreement.  Hundreds of people lined up every day to fill out their registration tickets, exclaiming with hope, “I am going to win that $10,000.”  They never read the words, “Up to.”  On our first Albany, GA sale, we sold all 99 lots before the auction, we let the lucky draw spin our roulette wheel only to win $1500, and, we sold $1,200,000 in land in a week.  That is a true land rush!
  5. On another Land Bust Up, we opted to have owner financing due to the rural nature of the property.  I explained owner financing to a potential buyer,  “The owner is the bank. There is no qualifying. Your credit doesn’t matter.  You don’t pay. You don’t stay!”  I took him into the office and stated to Owner (same as Port-a-Potty), “Mr. Jones here is having a problem grasping owner financing.”  The owner said, “Take a real deep breath.”  To which Mr. Jones complied.  “Now, let it out.”  Mr. Jones exhaled.  “You just qualified!” stated the owner.  To which, Mr. Jones ran out of our office and sped away with his tires screeching.  Sometimes, it is worth losing a sale for the story.
  6. On yet another Land Bust Up outside of Albany, I was walking the most wooded tract of land on a South Georgia plantation with a potential buying couple.  I stepped on a snake and felt in move under me, and jumped high and fast to the right, only to fall on my behind.  The husband grabbed a stick, beating the snake to death. Breathless, I dusted myself off, and, figured this sale is over.  Much to my surprise, they wanted the tract.  Well, I explained that we did not take any property off the market without a check.  To which, the husband, went and drug the dead snake back the dirt road, hoping nobody would get out of the car to see a piece of property with a snake in the road.  I dubbed this “check book races.”  On another note, when I got back to the office after stepping on the snake, I exasperated, “I stepped on a snake and fell.  The husband killed it.  It (the snake) had triangles all over it!”  To us blonds, two triangles make a diamond.  I literally could have been kissed to death on that one.
  7. One beautiful October, I was selling land on the Green River outside Saluda, NC.  There were 22 switchbacks coming down this narrow mountain road to the valley where I was selling land.  For those city folk, like myself, that don’t know, a switchback is a hairpin back and forth decent to get to the base of a mountain. I had spoken over the phone to a lady bring her elderly husband for a viewing of our colorful parcels.  This woman that had finally gotten to the bottom of the mountain with her husband, jumped out of the car and beamed, “Are we here? Finally?” I stated “Yes.”  With that, she jumped to her knees and kissed the ground.  The next thing I see is her lipstick and nose with a nice rich black dirt outline.  Either it was so beautiful, or, they were so impressed with my mountain goat talents for showing property corners, that they bought a tract.   How could one not buy the dirt that they had kissed?

Residential Property Showing:

  1.  Once, I had a listing in Huntly Hills.  A new listing came on the market, and I was driving by one morning, so, as a curious agent, I decided use my lock box to compare it to my listing.  Once inside a large dog started growling.  I said, “ Hey, Puppy.  Good Doggy!” and proceeded t6o preview the house.  Back at my office,  I went online to see the price (yes, we barely had computers, much less handheld or portable).  The agent comments said: Do Not Go In House Without an Appointment.  That Dog Will Bite You.”. Oh, well, my lucky day.  Dogs and kids love me, even though I have neither.
  2. Another time, also in Huntly Hills (what is it about that neighborhood?), I was showing a house to a prospective buyer.  I screamed bloody murder, when something jumped on my back…. a monkey. My client burst out laughing, as the monkey, was trying to kiss me. 

I hope you find the stories entertaining.  I realize from writing this I have several more volumes of stories like this.

However, in this time of Thanksgiving, I am very grateful for God, my country, my family, my friends, and, especially, my REIA family of friends.   I hope you all know that I am there to help you in any way on any real estate matters, even if it is just advice.

Deborah HarrisGrowing up In Atlanta, Deborah Harris has watched this city grow into the world recognized city that it is today. Licensed as a real estate agent in 1981, Deborah has several thousand transactions to her credit, numerous awards, and dozens of Realtor designations, Deborah, loves negotiating the deal, prides herself on the best internet marketing of properties, and is still is passionate about real estate. We are “the team where experience and technology connect.” Let the hardest working Realtor in Atlanta work for you, too!

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