Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me A Match

“Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match”… Sometimes I sing this song in my head when I am trying to figure out how to find the “right” home for a particular buyer or the “right” buyer for a particular home.  Some buyers are really looking for a needle in a haystack.  Some properties are… really… um, needles.

Anyone who has been a real estate professional for very long has been faced with the issue of having to sell a property that they could not conceive of buying – ever.  Maybe the agent would never spend that much, or never be willing to live next to the sewage plant or the slaughter house or the jail… and maybe it’s the property itself.  So, how *should* a real estate professional deal with that?  Should they refuse the listing?  If they can’t get past that problem, then yes.  But many years ago, I had a situation that taught me, for once and for all, that there is someone for every property.

This story comes from my days in property management, when I managed apartment communities.  We had a beautiful apartment that someone moved out of, without telling us, and leaving chicken on the counter… in the summer… for weeks… with no air conditioning running.  When we finally realized she was gone, I sent my maintenance supervisor to check the apartment.  He got about 4 feet inside the door, and threw up on the floor.  Seriously.  The smell was so overwhelming it instantly made him sick.  The place was filled with maggots and flies.  It was terrible.

After recovering, we put a plan into action… removing the chicken, bleaching the area, bombing for flies/bugs, (cleaning the carpet, of course), turning on the AC and opening the windows and doors for 10 hours a day while someone was on the property, leaving the windows cracked even at night.  It didn’t help much.  More cleaning, scrubbing, soaking – every chemical we could think of.  We even called butcher shops thinking maybe they would have hints to help us – surely they’d dealt with rotten meat smells before, right?  It was no use.  We replaced the counter top, cabinet, kitchen floor and even the sub floor!  A little better, but the stench was still there!  We replaced the carpet, sealed the walls, repainted, cleaned the ductwork.  Why wasn’t this smell gone?  What more is there to do?  We’d run out of ideas.  And we had to lease this apartment.  But how?

At least we could all walk inside without throwing up by now, so we showed it.  A lot.  It had upgraded cabinets and all new everything and a balcony that overlooked a field with a little babbling brook.  But no one would lease because of the smell.  We dropped the price.  We prayed. We still couldn’t lease it.  What were we going to do?

Then, on one magical day, a young man walked into the office lobby.  As I walked from my office in the back to greet him I said, “Oh, it smells like the cookies are done!  I love that smell…. Mmm…. Would you like one?”.  I walked toward the kitchen to remove them from the oven.

His response was, “Oh, I can’t even smell them, I was born without the sense of smell.” A true MIRACLE!   Honestly, I knew some people were born with visual impairments or hearing deficits and all sorts of other conditions, but it never occurred to me that there were people who simply could not smell.  Of course there are.   I am sure there are a lot of people like this.  I may even know them, it’s just that, as “disabilities” go it’s not very limiting, so the condition would be invisible to others under the majority of circumstances.

So, it turns out, this someone was looking for an apartment… and BOY did I have the deal for him.  I was even honest, as I couldn’t take advantage of the guy just because of his condition.  I asked if the place was just for him, I went through other screening questions and told him I had a fabulous deal… a superior apartment at a ridiculously low rate because others complained there was a smell.  I told him what the source was and what we’d done to remedy it, and that I truly believed the smell was hanging on because the place was vacant.  I showed him the apartment.  He loved it. For the first time ever, his “disability” was providing him a financial benefit!  Win-Win-Win 🙂

The moral of this story:  There is, TRULY, someone for EVERY property.

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