The Toilet That “FLUSHED” Our Deal!

Shannon Kernaghan Real-Estate-bees_hive-5 The Toilet That "FLUSHED" Our Deal! How To Real Estate Risk Sales  selling your home how-to home selling strategies

One of the most eye-opening business ventures I ever took was to sell real estate. I met the most interesting people in the most intimate of places – their homes. To them, their homes were castles, even when they were more (ahem) hovel than mansion.

 Here’s an example of the mansion/hovel experience: One evening I went on a house hunt with friends who were looking for their first home. We viewed several properties that I found for them. The last house was one they discovered during a drive so earlier I’d set up an appointment with the listing agent.

After a few steps inside I whispered, “Stop! Let’s put our shoes back on before we go any further – my socks are wet!” This was NOT my friends’ dream home, but the place was such a disaster that curiosity pulled us into every room.

The house reeked of cooking grease and assorted body odors. There must have been a sale on green paint because all walls were covered with a moldy shade (maybe it wasn’t paint!). And talk about dim – no light fixture held more than a 40-watt bulb.

The homeowner was a voracious knitter because our first sight in the living room was a mountain of wool and a rainbow of sweaters draped over every couch and surface. One large lump was either a wool-covered coffee table or a sleeping dog.

The “trophy room” was the kitchen, which the three of us scanned in silence: the stovetop was covered with charred food, black and hardened into volcanic structures. And I’ve never seen so many dirty dishes piled window-high in the sink and across the counters. My friends stifled giggles behind their hands, refusing my eye contact and raised eyebrows.

The homeowner popped her head into the kitchen: “Any questions for me?” she asked.

“No, I think we’re good. But didn’t your agent mention we were coming tonight?” I asked.

She nodded yes, looking perplexed by my question. We had to leave before the giggling turned into full-on hysteria.

See? One person’s castle is another person’s . . . dump.

Beauty is in the eye of the potato?

Every buyer enters your home with critical eyes. While the average homeowner is proud to present a clean, well-maintained property, there are exceptions and I saw plenty of them.

My husband Paul, also an agent, listed a young couple’s home. We anticipated dozens of buyers and browsers to visit our inaugural open house. After setting up our yard signs, we walked inside to find a sink of dirty dishes topped off by a leaking tap. A quick walkthrough yielded a half-eaten pizza on the counter, an unmade bed and several burned out light bulbs in the basement.

The owners headed out the door as the first punctual prospects walked in. “Wait!” I called out. There was no time to ask why they left such a mess, or why they’d filled a bowl with potatoes and placed it as a centerpiece on the dining room table. There was only time to slip on a friendly smile (and hope I’d remembered my deodorant.)

The owners arrived home moments after the open house ended and asked, “How many offers did you write?” We explained that our marketing would be more effective if they tidied up a little more and did a few quick-fix projects. We arrived at least 30 minutes early before subsequent showings and once washed the dishes ourselves.

The home sold, but I wish I’d asked about those potatoes that were still on the table when we presented the offer.

Bury, Don’t Freeze!

A co-worker in our office told us about a home he showed twice to a woman. The woman returned to the basement but this time she opened the freezer, since it was included in the purchase price.

Our agent friend was upstairs with the homeowner. That’s when they heard a loud shriek and the freezer lid slam, followed by hysterical laughter. When they raced downstairs, our friend found out why the woman had shrieked: the freezer was empty except for the twisted frozen bodies of a cat and dog! The owner explained how both of his elderly pets had died during the winter and that he was waiting until spring, to bury them at his cottage when the ground thawed.

There’s only a brief window to make an impression on purchasers – always make it a great one, preferably one with shrieks of joy, not surprise!

The Royal Flush

During another showing, the homeowner had recently renovated his bathroom. The result was beautiful – coordinating tiles and wallpaper, granite countertops and tropical greenery. But. He’d overlooked the toilet during renovations.

That toilet was all our buyer could see. Instead of focusing on the updated décor, he kept flushing and muttering “damned noisy toilet!” That damned noisy toilet resulted in no sale. The owner refused to change it and the purchaser refused to start “mucking around with plumbing,” even if WE paid for the work out of our commission. We’ll always remember the toilet that “flushed” our deal!

Shannon Kernaghan Real-Estate-Bees-400 The Toilet That "FLUSHED" Our Deal! How To Real Estate Risk Sales  selling your home how-to home selling strategies

KFC Meets Feng Shui

“Subject to parent’s approval” was our least favorite clause when writing an offer on a home. Why? Because it’s tough to appease the opinions of several personalities, all with different ages and tastes and varied levels of real estate savvy.

We’d spend countless hours showing the property and writing a contract with the buyer only to cancel the deal because a parent didn’t agree.

Once we sold a home to a couple subject to the man’s father’s approval. The father wasn’t available to view the home until the next day. When the three of them arrived, the father immediately pulled out a small cloth bag from his pocket. Then we followed him to the outside steps where he gave that bag a shake and dumped the contents onto the landing. Chicken bones scattered and created an interesting design.

The older man looked at his son and shook his head. “No good,” he said.

Huh? The purchaser looked at us, shrugged, and said “sorry” before quickly slipping on his leavin’ loafers. My husband wanted to yell out, “Next time we spend an afternoon selling you a home, bring your chicken bones with you!”

Back to the Castle Syndrome

We listed the house of a sweet elderly couple who bought a condo and had to say good-bye to their family home. They loved their castle – they’d raised their children in it and proudly maintained their house and yard through the years.

When Paul and I showed up for their first open house, we were anxious for them to leave so we could welcome keen buyers. Both of them were dressed nicely and I watched him kneel to tie his wife’s shoelaces.

“Aw, cute,” I thought, “helping with her shoes . . . and now they’re ready to go.” Nope. They sat there and looked up at me.

Paul chimed in: “So where are you off to for the next two hours? Looks like a beautiful day to–”

“Going?” he said. “Nowhere. We’re staying here in case you have any questions.”

Gulp. Paul politely explained that it’s always better if homeowners aren’t present during an open house. That way, buyers feel free to voice their concerns and aren’t afraid to insult the nearby owners.

“If people can speak freely,” Paul continued, “we can better overcome their objections and we often get an offer the same day.”

No logical explanation worked. Our sweet old couple didn’t budge from their couch for the next two hours. Spoiler alert: no offers that afternoon.

On another day, a family of new Canadians arrived for a scheduled showing. When the tour was over, our helpful homeowner followed them to the front door. “What do you think of my house?” he asked.

“It’s very nice, but we’re looking for one with a dining room.”

“DINING ROOM! From where you come from you eat on dirt floors and HERE you want a dining room?”

Again, no offer that day.

We did eventually sell their “castle” and everyone was happy. How much did we enjoy working with this old couple? Enough to name our next cats after them!

Don’t Nickel and Dime

After holding our first open house, we generated interest from a motivated family. Besides a wonderful full-price offer, all they asked for were two old kitchen appliances and a carved coat hook in the front hallway.

When our homeowners scanned the offer together, the woman grabbed a pen from my hand, ready to accept. She and her partner were both ecstatic . . . until the woman spotted the coat hook.

“What? Our coat hook? There’s no way I’m gonna part with that!” she announced, slamming down the pen. I looked at Paul and he looked at me. Is this really happening?

Based on her reaction, we assumed this was a pricey antique or a relic passed down over four generations. Nope. It was a tchotchke they picked up for $35 at a garage sale the previous summer.

Paul kept his voice friendly: “Let’s talk about this. You want to risk a counteroffer over . . . [he paused for effect] a $35 ornament?” Paul and I routinely worked much harder on our contracts and negotiated details that were truly significant – price, possession dates, renovations and more.

“But if the purchasers are having a smidgen of second thoughts,” I added, “and we return with a counter offer, you realize they can walk away and get their deposit back, right?”

She stared at us, unmoved.

“Seriously,” I tried again, “this is a great contract. If we lose it, the next offer could be for much less money or with major conditions you can’t accept.” Silence. “Pleeease don’t give them a chance to walk!” Now I sounded screechy!

Eventually we convinced the more level-headed partner to reason with her in the next room. Thirty minutes later we sighed with relief and phoned the buyer’s agent with the good news. Phew!

FYI Our homeowners could have avoided this near-debacle simply by removing their coat hook before the first showing or open house. And don’t assume because an object or piece of equipment is attached to the wall or bolted to floor that buyers won’t ask for it in their offer.

Why open the door – literally – to bungled negotiations or hard feelings?

Shannon Kernaghan Priv-Sale-display-full-e1592324905658 The Toilet That "FLUSHED" Our Deal! How To Real Estate Risk Sales  selling your home how-to home selling strategies

. . . excerpts from How to Sell Your Home Privately

You’re thinking of selling your home privately, but you don’t know how to begin. And you’re scared – to open your door to strangers, make costly mistakes and risk legal issues. If you have the time, energy and motivation, real estate expert Shannon Kernaghan can help you undertake this challenge and save you thousands in commission.

Gathered from years of practical experience, her down-to-earth selling strategies will lead you bravely and painlessly through the process. For the increasing number of homeowners who want to take the plunge and sell privately, this innovative book is an essential tool!

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music credits

Spring Migration by The Great White North Sound Society
Komorebi by Futuremono
Sacred lotus by Patino
Remember September by Freedom Trail Studio
Song of Sadhana by Jesse Gallagher
Dream Lagoon by Chris Haugen

Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me!

Shannon Kernaghan resting-bitch-face-400 Your Resting Bitch Face Scares Me! Adventure Memoir Risk  shannon kernaghan resting bitch face

Can’t we all just get along? No. At least not at work.

An online poll of 2,000 adults revealed that 22% despise their colleagues. That’s strong language!

Cranky people obviously responded to the poll. Those who enjoy arranging staff birthday parties and NONE OF US IS AS STRONG AS ALL OF US teambuilding events are too busy for polls. Either way you slice the birthday cake, that’s a whole lot of despising.

There’s more: one third of the respondents had quit their jobs to escape undesirable co-workers. The word “obnoxious” was bandied about like helium balloons.

“The office is a lot like a family,” says Franke James with “And nobody knows how to push our buttons like a brother or sister.”

My siblings are scattered across several provinces. We all get along just fine. Then again, my sister isn’t stealing my three-hole punch and my brother isn’t dropping cruller crumbs into my computer keyboard.

But there have been a few peeps I’d place in that 22 percentile. Please join me in the Wayback Machine, to when I worked at a sales job.

I watched a male co-worker slam down the phone and cartwheel across the room, ecstatic after closing a deal. I clapped and congratulated Dave as he bounced off walls. (I’m not exaggerating; he did a series of side kicks like the Lucky Charms leprechaun.)

Our boss walked past me and I blurted out, “Dave just made a big sale, isn’t that great?” This was followed by lots of rah-rahing and back patting. The mood was charged.

The minute our boss left the room, Dave strode over to me with a loaded index finger and a florid tinge to his face. Then he started to snort. “Who the hell are you to announce my news?  I’ll make the announcements when I’m good and ready. Got it?” His resting bitch face scared me.

“Oh-kay . . . got it.”

The mood was no longer charged. Dave must have missed the inter-office memo on teamwork. Then again, I shouldn’t have rained on his Lucky Charms parade. Who knew being a cheerleader was so hazardous.

Cold comfort? My over-the-top colleague was soon fired for pulling the same explosive stunt on another supportive co-worker. This time the boss was watching.

Thanks to the dismal statistics and my tramp down memory lane, I’m nervous. When I show up for the next staff meeting I’ll wonder if 22% of the boardroom despises me. I’d better keep the lid clamped down on my cheerleading charm. Better yet, maybe I won’t go.

Nah, I’ll go, and not because I’m brave. There might be birthday cake.

audio music  
The Rising Cost of Living
by Lyndon Scarfe.

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My GPS has PMS

Shannon Kernaghan Stoopid-ass-GPS-600 My GPS has PMS Relationship Risk Travel  G.P.S. directions in life career guidance

I need more direction in life. I’m not talking about spiritual, relationship or career guidance but actual direction, as in navigating from point A to B. My problem is I lack a sense of direction many are born with and take for granted.

Me: “Excuse me, where’s the nearest restaurant?”

Helpful bystander: “Go north for three blocks, take the west entrance blah blah, veer south blah blah . . . ” After I hear any mention of compass points, my logical brain goes into hibernation. This free time allows me to wonder what the guy slopped to produce such vivid blue stains on his shirt and if he’s had hair plugs, considering his questionable hairline. All good things to ponder although I’m no closer to my lunch time Cobb salad.

I envy people who can look up at the sun or stars and immediately have their bearing. These directional shamans border on magical. I require something more concrete, like a peaked mountain or expanse of ocean. Read the north-facing lichen on a tree when lost in the woods? I’ve been in those woods. My only discovery is that all sides of the tree look mossy. And now I have to find a bathroom.

Follow a road map? That’s doable, providing I don’t lose my place or spill hot coffee on the map. Sure, I can find highway exit signs, if they’re large enough to read while speeding past and if there’s enough time to make the necessary lane change.

“More help is on the way,” my gismo-lovin’ man announced with our first GPS that provided glorious turn-by-turn directions, all with female voice prompts.

I think Paul’s disappointed, missing my shrieks and my “How many miles of notice do you need?” clever questions. Gone are my bouts of silence when he used to blame lost time on my confusing directions. Gone are his insinuations that it must be somebody’s time of the month.

It’s now happy travels, with updates of when to expect road construction and how to maneuver through detours. Wherever we go, we travel with that woman’s melodious voice telling my husband he’s driven too far, here’s how he can backtrack and I really like your truck, handsome, drive here often?

I’m keeping an eye on those two. With all the help from global positioning, I’m afraid my job in the passenger seat will become obsolete.

“Honey? Feel like pulling into that truck stop?” I plan to ask. “I’ll grab us some coffee.”

Let’s see how Ms. GPS can handle spilled coffee down her microprocessor. Now I won’t be the only one in the vehicle to suffer from directional PMS .

 audio version song
The Rondo Brothers

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Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins

Shannon Kernaghan Stop-Confusing-Your-Pumpkin-451 Stop Confusing Your Pumpkins Childhood Culture Family Food Friendship Humor Parties Risk  pumpkin makeup halloween communal water chocolate bar

I can’t understand the rationale behind applying special Halloween make-up and then dunking your head in a tub of communal water, all for the prize of grabbing an apple. I need more incentive.

When I was a kid, apples were not my friend on Halloween. People who handed out chocolate bars? Now those were folks forever etched in my heart. The larger the bar, the more respect they wielded in the neighborhood.

Besides apples shunned by us sugar-loving kids, pumpkins are also given a bad rap on October 31. Sure, they’re respected over Thanksgiving when they sacrifice their lives for our pumpkin pies, but come Halloween we develop short memories. Instead of revering them, we cut, scoop and hack away, defacing pumpkins into leering jack-o’-lanterns. Then, we let them shrivel to unrecognizable pulps before tossing them into a compost bin or the next trash pick-up. Talk about ‘dissing an innocent gourd.

Know who else gets a bad rap? Teenagers. The rumor that floated through school at Halloween was the same every year: “Look out for those AWFUL teenagers! As soon as they spot you walking with a full bag, they’ll steal your candy!”

Sure, teenagers are notorious for egging windows and trimming trees with toilet tissue, but not all of them are evil. During one childhood Halloween, I almost made it home after a fruitful trick-or-treating mission. After saying goodbye to my friends, I looked over my shoulder for those awful teenagers. I was a mere six doors from home when the unthinkable happened: my bag of treats – weighed down by apples – tore and spilled my candy onto the street! Horrified, I ran home crying.

Before I could explain the tear-choked tragedy to my mother, our doorbell rang.

“Gee, that’s a grown-up looking trick-or-treater,” Mom said after peering through the window. She opened the door to one of those awful teenagers. He’d taken off his jacket and gathered my candy. Since he watched me run home, he followed.

My mom whispered that I should give him a reward for his kindness, so I surrendered several of my most-coveted chocolate bars.

From then, I wasn’t frightened by teenagers on Halloween. Instead, I’ve developed a fear of dentists because in addition to collecting candy, I garnered a few cavities that year.

If you’re still brave enough (read: crazy) to bob for apples at your Halloween party, insist on going first. The last contestants in line have a tough time breaking through the oil slick of grease paint on the water’s surface. And don’t invite me unless you plan to bob for something good, like diamonds or a plane ticket to Honolulu. For that I’ll smudge my make-up.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN to teenagers everywhere. I’m thrilled if you’re reading my post. That means you’re not out egging our car.

Audio verison song
Old Salooner Blues
Midnite North

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Bear Facts on Bikinis

Shannon Kernaghan Bare-Facts-on-Bikinis-8-e1497811785676 Bear Facts on Bikinis Bikini Culture Humor Lifestyle Risk Travel Tropical  string bikini sex news life imitates art high heels bikinis art

Some believe that life imitates art. For me, life imitates news. I read a piece on the myriad of distractions that drivers face on today’s roads.

Any number of activities, both inside the vehicle and out, can cause a distraction. Some may be difficult to predict or control, such as an event along the roadside or a loose object moving inside the car.

I once watched a woman wearing a string bikini and strappy high heels ride her bicycle down Edmonton’s busy Whyte Avenue. If based on the number of rubbernecking cars that crawled dead slow to get a better gander, she was a definite distraction.

Unpredictability is key. Take your screaming baby in the back seat, or the bear that appeared before my father while heading home from the lake. Had Dad been texting or multitasking, there could have been a fatality. Actually there was – the poor bear – but it was either collide with Smoky or get creamed by the fast-moving stream of Sunday traffic behind us.

Another word of advice: if you’re a bear, please don’t lounge on the highway at dusk. If you need a ride, stick out your paw on the side of the road. Or consider a Commuter Pass with Greyhound.

Sure, some distractions you can’t anticipate, but there are others that drivers choose. It’s these choices that leave me clenching my jaw, everything from selecting music, interacting with passengers, making or receiving phone calls to studying the GPS.

To find an article on distracted driving was apropos. I’d just arrived home after witnessing a parade of distracted drivers while stopped at a red light with my husband.

Turning vehicles had the right of way, which gave me time to watch as they maneuvered the turn. None was doing the dreaded texting or phoning, although one man laughed uproariously, with his head thrown back and his eyes pinched shut. The next dude turned his car but stared at something over his shoulder.

Vehicle number three’s driver fought with a food wrapper and the woman following adjusted her scarf in the mirror. The final man to make the light was looking down and digging at something in his lap.

Very few traveling the roads today have lives so vital that they can’t pull over and park for a few minutes. Can’t they at least wait for a red light before eating that drippy fajita or mining their lap for gold? No wonder there are accidents!

Imagine an idyllic world where people simply drive the highways without distraction, eyes front and hands at ten and two on the wheel? That’s the artwork I want to create for my living room, with emphasis on “living.” And I’ll remember to sketch in the poor bear who gave his/her life – along with our car’s front end – so we could enjoy a beach day.

Ten-4, rubber ducky.


Audio version song
Jaw Harp You Can Dance To
Doug Maxwell

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