Friday, August 15, 2008

The Bad: Jen, the "inaccessible" Realtor

I had every intention of naming names, complete with links, but Fate is kinder than yours truly, so Jen will be spared that for now.

I've already mentioned that I thought, briefly, on Saturday night last, that my search for a place to live in Charleston was finished. Of all the places I'd seen during the day, only one had merited the comment, in my semi-legible scrawl on the bottom of the MLS printout, "Could live here." That place, we had seen early in the day, about sixth or so on the list of places we'd visited.

From the beginning, we'd had no luck getting through to the listing agent, Jen. There was a lock box on the property, but a call to the listing agent is a common courtesy. No answer, but no big deal--courtesy was still satisfied. Until, that is, the combo for the lock box turned out not to work. More calls to Jen went unreturned. I walked around to the back of the townhome while Sue continued to try to reach Jen. Then, peering in the back window, I saw Sue walking through toward me. "The front door was unlocked," she said, as she let me in the back door. "Still nothing from Jen."

It was a great place though. (You can find photos of the neighborhood here, and you'll have no trouble seeing why my daughter thought it was way cool, the kind of place where it wouldn't be possible to forget you lived at the beach. "That other place [in Byrnes Downes] is more like living in Fayetteville," she quipped. 'Nuff said.) Three stories. (Floor plan here.) Living, dining, kitchen, half bath on the ground. Small, fully fenced, gated patio with small grass area in back for Sydni. Parking behind the building. Two bedrooms and two baths on the second floor, with a way cool balcony off the master. Easy to picture myself out there in the afternoon, reading in prep for the next day's classes, gin & tonic on the arm of an Adirondack chair. Then one more bedroom on a third floor. (It would be one more guest room. I didn't plan to cart my desk up all those stairs. More likely would be having the study as part of the main living area on the ground floor.)

The place still smelled new. Some people hate that smell. I always loved it. When I moved out of my first home in 1985, it still had that smell even after three years of me living in it. I especially loved the new smell considering that at least four of the places we'd seen earlier in the day had been inhabited by smokers. Blehhhhhh!

Anyway, I left the place after that initial viewing (my daughter was having a well-deserved morning of sleeping in), knowing that if I didn't find something closer in and less expensive, this, at least, would do. I could look forward to coming home to this every day. Balcony. Gin & tonic. Sunsets overlooking a lake. Yeah.

But it was the second farthest out from town of everything we looked at during the entire day. You could figure that a gallon or more of gas used each day, round trip, would add about $100 monthly to the cost of living there, already at the upper end of what I was willing to pay. So the search went on . . . all day.

Several times during the day, because we wanted to confirm that Sydni would be acceptable as a tenant, Sue continued to try to call Jen. Never any return calls. Later in the day, I called myself, both her mobile and her office number. Left messages. When, as the sun was setting, I drove back out with Jacquelyn to show her the neighborhood and she gave it a huge thumbs up, I tried yet again. Finally, I let Sue know I'd decided. This was it.

At that point, she began an even more intense effort to reach the listing agent, Jen. Phone, no response. E-mail, no response. In the end, she e-mailed the agency Broker. That worked. Minutes later, she got a call back from Jen. "I'm sorry. I've had guests in town and I haven't been very accessible today," is what Sue related to me was Jen's excuse. Excuse me? If that were my property, I'd be a little disappointed to learn that my Realtor was "inaccessible," ever, for an entire day without someone being really ill. Forward calls to another agent. To a central office. Somewhere!

Now I realize that everyone deserves to have a life. Even Inspector's General deserve a life. But guess what: some jobs require that you be accessible, or make arrangements for someone else to be so. Being an IG is one of those jobs. I should think that being a Realtor would be one as well. Apparently not though. At least, not for Jen.

It gets better though. If you've read the earlier post, you know that when she did call, it was to say that she'd offered a lease to someone the day before. Well, thank you so much! Had she been "accessible," she could have saved my Realtor a trip out there with me that morning. She could have saved us the 30 minutes spent walking through, imagining myself in it. She could have saved me and my daughter the trip back out there at the day's end. She could have saved me the false relaxation of thinking the search was over. She could have saved everyone a lot of trouble and time. She could have, in short, done her job. But no, her job, as she conceives it, apparently allows for inaccessibility when it suits her.

Like I said, I'd have no problem naming names here, but I've temporarily misplaced the MLS printout with her full name or the name of the listing agency. Maybe another day. Maybe an update. Maybe she should consider other work, as a favor to us all. Please.