Real Estate Insider: Tools of the Trade

Real Estate Insider: Tools of the Trade

by Mara Finley and Cynthia Cummins 

Mara Finley and Cynthia Cummins of Kindred SF Homes are everyday email pals, finding moments of connection and entertainment in the midst of serving their clients. Here’s a dialogue that recently emerged in the course of a regular work week.

Reading time: 4 minutes

Mara: OMG Cynthia. I just showed our listing on X Street, and the door handle fell off in the buyer’s hand on her way out the door. She actually offered to wait for me in the hallway to make sure I didn’t get trapped inside.

Cynthia: That’s a good one. I have to add that story to my list of “funny things that have happened involving doors, keys and locks while showing property.” A lesson learned as a new agent at my first open house — don’t let the condo door shut behind you as you greet visitors getting off the elevator down the hall. Unless you have your keys with you. 

They should actually teach this as part of the real estate licensing exam. If you’re going out on the roof of a building while showing a property, always be sure to check that the door won’t lock behind you. These days, with mobile phones, it’s not quite so horrible if you get locked out on a cold, windy roof in the middle of a rainstorm. But back when I was a new agent, the only recourse was to lean over the parapet and yell at passersby on the street, or just wait until somebody happened to come up to the roof.

Mara: Speaking of back in the day, when we bought our house ten years ago, our agent would often meet my husband at the dog park and have him sign phone book size stacks of documents over the fence. Dear DocuSign, we love you. 

And a trick I learned from said dog walker husband: every professional whose job involves locks and keys needs to add WD40 to their arsenal. I scoffed at his gift of a mini bottle to keep in my car, but just used it on that sticky lock at our listing the other day. He also carries a mini crowbar in his vest in case he gets stuck in an elevator again (side note, the Boston terrier who got stuck with him was perfectly at ease while they waited for almost an hour to be rescued). Crowbars may come into fashion someday, but for now I’ll just stick with my purse size WD40 and take my chances.

Cynthia: Hmm. A crowbar could be a very versatile tool (read “weapon”). But I’m making a note to myself about the WD40 because I could have used some twice last week — once to make a key work (on someone else’s listing) and once to help a sliding door move more easily in its track. It’s such a glamorous business. Back when we were doing open houses, the kit always included a trash bag, soap, paper towels, broom, dustpan and toilet paper (plus a diet Coke — usually forbidden but by golly I deserved that diet Coke for doing an open house).

Mara: Speaking of glamorous, I just spent the last few hours thinking about gophers. A welcome break from Election Day, but still. I’d count at least 20 texts and emails re: gopher holes during the last hour. Sure their holes may detract from the initial impression of a listing, but gophers are kind of cute as far as rodents go, aren’t they? My husband grew up as a latchkey kid near the woods, and once put a chipmunk through the mail slot of the apartment he shared with his mom and sister ‘to play with later.’

Cynthia: Very kittycat-like for your dog-loving husband! What I want to know is how did he manage to actually catch a chipmunk? That had to be a lucky accident. (I also want to know what happened after he caught it and stuffed it through the mail slot.) There are, of course, whole industries devoted to catching wildlife. It’s quite the thing in SF, which might surprise some people. Not just rats, termites and ants. But scary gangs of raccoons. Hungry coyotes. Even the occasional mountain lion. But gophers are especially elusive. My neighbor out on 15th Avenue just hated them. Caddyshack level despised them. Strangely enough, the gophers stayed out of our yard, which was nicely landscaped and had all manner of bulbs. But they just tore into his yard like it was World War I, even though it was basically devoid of plantings. (Thank you for handling the gopher thing, btw.) 

If you’re still with us, here’s a recap of tips and tools: 1. When showing real estate, always keep your keys in your pocket. 2. Upon entering a parking garage or going out on a common roof deck, be sure the door doesn’t lock behind you. 3. Keep a mini container of WD40 in your purse, pack or pocket. 4. Consider a crowbar. 5. If you’ve got gophers, good luck to you!

Photo Credit: Andrew Buchanan

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