businesses, catskills, country life, Real estate, Uncategorized, upstateny

Friends – The Unexpected Benefit

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My mother-in-law, a wonderful woman who became my friend, was a real estate broker.

“You should do it,” she told me over and over. “You’d be really good at it. And I’ve made so many good friends in this business.”

Dale, you were right — again.

I started my real estate career feeling a bit shell-shocked. There was so much to learn. I had all the book learning, but real life experience in sales? Next to nothing. I was a middle-aged newbie.

It’s been almost ten years now.

The first few years were definitely a learning curve but when I joined a very well-run boutique agency, everything started to click. I had some big sales.

I met some great people. Some of them became friends. One couple became such good friends that they came to my son’s wedding. We danced together all night and I was so glad to have them with us.

The Brooklyn invasion of the Hudson Valley seemed to open a flood of “muh peepul” as Hannah Gadsby would say. Surprisingly, people quite a bit younger than I are “muh peepul.” I like Brooklyn expats. And they like me.

My first experience was a couple I called “the brewery kids.” They weren’t kids at all. But they are about the age of my own kids and I found myself personally invested in helping them find their dream site for their dream project – – a craft brewery.

We drove hundreds of miles over a period of many months. I had one snarky realtor tell me he’d “never” work with them: “They’ll never buy anything,” he predicted.

I defended them like they were family. I knew they were serious. We just had to find the right place.

We did. And they now have a thriving business, a growing family and a cult following. I am proud I knew them when. I miss talking to them constantly, but they’ve got a business to run.

Before my move to farm country, I worked with several younger couples, all of whom struck me as people I wouldn’t be forgetting soon. There was the young mom of twins who explored the mountains with me, pausing for us both to go for a swim on a hot summer day. There were “the yoga people,” a beautiful young couple looking to escape the New York City rat race and establish a peaceful retreat in the Catskills that they could share with others. There was another couple with twins, with whom I shared the frets and worries of moving as I moved during their purchase of a country farmhouse. Another artistic couple found the funkiest place imaginable, with a tunnel to a studio space, no less. Working with them with just plain fun.

Everyone found their perfect place. And I found people who I hope to always know.

They weren’t just clients. They are friends.

Now that I’m in a new area, I’m meeting new people. Some of them completely disagree with me on politics. Some of them are older than I am. Some of them are younger. But many of them are wonderful. One couple gave me a pint of the most amazing maple syrup I’ve ever tasted — and I am a maple syrup junkie. They boil it down on their farm.

I may have gotten spoiled. Business was so often a pleasure. It may be more business here. But Brooklyn, once you find this gorgeous, affordable part of New York, you’re going to be haunted by it. And you’re going to love it here. I hope I’ll get to show you around.

Not every real estate client becomes a friend. But how lucky am I? So many have.



Real estate, Uncategorized

That Golden Rule

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Photo by Sindre Strøm on

Sometimes business becomes personal. And sometimes it goes wrong.  But sometimes, that gives me an opportunity to decide if I am really the person I want to be.

That happened today.

Former clients, people I worked with for a long time and really liked, just disappeared one day. This wasn’t just business. We’d become friends. They swore there was no way they’d ever want to work with anyone else. Then they did. They didn’t say goodbye. They didn’t explain. They vanished.

I hadn’t seen it coming. I’ll be honest — it hurt. I felt like I got dumped at the dance.

Fast forward a couple of years and suddenly I got an email from them. They were having trouble with a real estate transaction and they wondered if I could help them understand what they should do.

I paused. I wondered if the better thing to do was to simply not respond. We no longer had any relationship and any communication with them had to be very clear, as they have another agent and I do not want to, indeed cannot, by the code of ethics, interfere.

But I decided ignoring them was not the right answer. I’d liked them, I’d done my best for them, and I knew I’d feel better about myself if I continued to do that.

I dropped them an email, asked for a clearer explanation, then made a phone call to someone involved in their transaction to get the full story. Once done, I let them know it made sense to me, that if they needed further explanation, they could call me.

“Do your clients and co-workers know how lucky they are to have you?” they wrote.

No. Of course they don’t. Just like these clients didn’t realize how hard I’d worked on their behalf until they moved on. Just like I sometimes take it for granted when I know I can count on someone.

Trust is hard to win. And it hurts when it’s lost. But I did my best, before and afterwards.

I treated them the way I’d hope to be treated. That’s all I can do. But that’s a lot.