The Real Estate License

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Don’t let the shows on HGTV fool you into thinking that helping find someone their dream home is easy, that it’s as simple as showing a couple three homes, that they will make their decision within a half hour, and then you’ll go skipping down the lane with your fat commission check, because that’s not the way it works.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it was going to be easy initially, because truthfully, for me, just getting my license proved to be a lot of hard work, from the multiple months I spent taking online real estate courses to the hours upon hours that I spent studying for the Florida state licensing exam. Of course when I went in, I knew that studying would be a big part of getting my license, but it wasn’t studying from the comfort of my own home, curled up on the couch with multiple study books open around me and the quiet serenity surrounding me that is essential to soaking up and retaining all of Florida’s real estate laws and regulations. No, I had to do my studying in the Starbucks café that’s in the middle of the Barnes & Noble, that way I could use the study guides with practice tests without having to purchase them, which I really couldn’t afford at the time.
 
I know it seems crazy that a Florida Real Estate Exam prep book was out of my price range, but in addition to paying for the exam, once I got my license I would owe nearly a thousand dollars in fees just so I could legally work in real estate, so spending money unnecessarily on something else just wasn’t a priority. That may seem like the worst part of the whole licensing process, spending hours inside of Barnes & Noble trying to learn everything I would need to know to pass the test, but unfortunately, the worst part about it all revealed itself on test day.
 
The closest testing center to where I lived was in Melbourne, Florida, which by interstate was only about an hour away, however the car I was driving at the time did not inspire much confidence when traveling at more than 45 miles per hour, so rather than risking almost sure death on the way to get my real estate license, I took an alternate route down US highway 1, a four lane road that stretches all the way from Key West to Maine. While a relatively easy drive, staying on that scenic road from Fort Pierce all the way to Melbourne, it did take almost two hours to reach my destination, but still, that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was driving the long two hours back after my multiple failed attempts to pass the exam due to my struggles with the math portion of the test. It was so disheartening every time because I would be so confident going in, having drilled different math questions over and over again until I felt sure that I would pass the test, only to fail once again.
 
I could have given up, which is something I’d certainly done before without exhausting even a fraction of the effort I’d expelled into this thing, but I kept with it, studying in Barnes & Noble then making the trek to Melbourne where I would arrive a couple hours early and go to the McDonald’s to take one last practice exam that I’d copied by hand from the study guide into a notebook. This was my process, and no matter how many times I failed, I stuck with it, determined to become a realtor and have a successful career in real estate. Well, the second part didn’t happen, but eventually I passed the exam and immediately a weight was lifted off my shoulders and it was worth all of the hard work and struggles that I’d gone through to reach that goal. It wasn’t easy, and ultimately it didn’t work out, but passing the exam and getting my license was one of the happiest moments in my life.
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The Lease Renewal

IMG_3693My wife and I renewed our apartment lease today. Now before you start breaking out the champagne and confetti poppers, let me be perfectly clear in assuring you that this is no cause for celebration. I’ve come to realize over the course of my life that I’m possibly one of the laziest people in the world, and it is for that reason that we signed on the dotted line this afternoon, opting to spend another year in this apartment rather than go through the hassle of moving. In the town we moved to a year ago, there are several different areas that I would prefer to live in over where we do now, and it wouldn’t be much of a price difference if there was any at all, so money really wasn’t a deciding factor. We would however have to spend a day lugging furniture down the stairs of our second story apartment, then subsequently taking them back up stairs at our new place, and for us, that was the deal breaker. Maybe over the next year we can psyche ourselves up to the challenge by the time our new lease expires, but until then, we’re stuck here.

This is the place that told us, the day we sat down to sign our lease, after days spent dreaming of grilling burgers and steaks on our balcony in the summer, that grills were now prohibited in the apartment complex, because a resident set fire to one of the units. People ruin everything. This is the place that left a letter outside my door, fining me for the Grizzlies flag I had hanging off of my balcony, citing the section in my lease that prohibits debris from being left outside. We’ve had animals scratching inside our walls for as long as I can remember, and recently heard them beneath our bathtub, which the management company assured us that we’re not the only residents who have complained about it, as if that was supposed to make me feel better about the whole ordeal.

The day we moved in last July we noted all of the deficiencies in our apartment, and gave a detailed list of what needed to be fixed, the whole in the closet ceiling and the electrical outlets not working, among other things, that still have not been taken care of. Our water has been turned off on numerous occasions, oftentimes without warning, which happens to be really inconvenient when you need to take a shower before work, but we signed up for another year of this madness any way. I suppose there are some good aspects about the apartment, the close proximity to the park, and the trash seems to be picked up on a regular basis unlike the apartment complex across the street whose dumpsters are overflowing with trash all over the ground every time that we drive by, but as I sit here in my bedroom writing, burning up because the vents in our room aren’t working, I’m finding it a little difficult to be positive. Maybe things will get better, or perhaps they won’t. Only time will tell.

I Had a Dream

Last night I had a dream, but don’t worry this isn’t going to be inspirational or anything, just probably a bit confusing. My family and I were in the airport, one I’ve never been in before, running and trying to get to the plane on time before takeoff. We barely made it but there was a jerk running in front of me the whole way who was taunting me and saying that I would never make it in on time. It made me mad, but luckily he was wrong and I got on the airplane just as the door was closing. Unwilling to forget about the taunting and just go to my seat, I decided to make him pay for his rude comments so I followed him to the back of the plane and when he opened the bathroom door I pushed him inside. I grabbed his hand and twisted, threatening to break it, and it was at this point I realized that almost every inch of visible skin was covered in tattoos. “Punk” I though to myself, as I looked past my own tattoos and judged this man because of his. When I realized that, how unfair I was being to him I apologized and let go of him, and without a word he stood up and pushed past me out of the bathroom.

I watched as he walked with a purpose towards the front of the airplane. I don’t know how he did it but somehow he managed to get into the cockpit and take control of the plane, and suddenly I was standing right beside him, terrified. He turned at me and smiled a nasty, villainous smile and winked as he pressed the a control forward, causing the airplane to lurch into a nose dive. I watched the screen that told the altitude which was decreasing rapidly and I pleaded with the man not to do this, and then to my surprise he listened to me. He leveled off the plane, but then he told everyone to form a line in front of him, leading to the cockpit, and everyone did.

One by one each person walked forward and answered a question. If they got the answer correct they got to go back to their seat, but if they answered wrong, they were pushed out of the airplane. It was a simple question, one that didn’t require any prior knowledge. He asked each person to tell him how many houses they owned. Apparently this guy didn’t like people who had more than one house so he pushed all multiple home owners out of the plane. Surprisingly there were a lot of people who owned two or more houses on the plane, way more than I expected, but luckily I was not one of them. I sat in my seat, feeling relief for just a brief second before I felt the plane nose dive again and I knew that I was going to die after all.

I have no idea what the dream means. I haven’t traveled by airplane in a while or thought anything about owning two houses, so truly I am baffled by this. If you or someone you know can interpret dreams, I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think this one means.

Stranger Things

Today when I woke up I had no idea what I was going to write about so I went about my day hoping something interesting might happen or inspiration would strike and I would be able to get 500 words or so out of it. Throughout the morning nothing noteworthy happened but then this afternoon I received a very strange email handed to me on a silver platter and all of a sudden I had a story to share. When I was a realtor in Florida a few years ago I met a couple who lived in New York but had a home in Port St. Lucie that they visited occasionally and they hired me to go by that house every week to check and make sure that everything was okay like nothing was flooded and the electricity hadn’t cut off. I had that responsibility for more than two years but since I moved to Memphis a few months ago I obviously have been relieved of my duties. The email was sent to me from the couple who owned the home in Florida. They had just gotten off the phone with one of the security guards that worked the gate into their nice exclusive community and he had informed them that I, Kendall Curtis, had used their name and address to gain entrance into the neighborhood. The email was very nice and they inquired if perhaps I was visiting my in-laws in Florida and was possibly looking for a place to wait out the hurricane. I was not and am not in Florida, but nestled safely in Memphis (something nobody has probably ever said before). If I’m the kind of person who would sneak in to a nice community and seek shelter in a house where I knew the owners were a thousand miles away then I would deserve to be blown away in the storm, however I’m not that type of person but that was nice of them to be so understanding had I been.

I know from my years going in and out of that gated community that you must show a photo ID confirming your identity before security will allow you to enter. In addition to proving who you are your name must also be on the list of approved guests by the homeowners and again if you’re not on the list you’re not getting in. I called the security line for that neighborhood immediately because theoretically somebody had a driver’s license with my name on it and was using it to gain access to somewhere that they shouldn’t be able to. The security guard I spoke with was somewhat helpful and although wasn’t the guard on duty at the time Kendall Curtis allegedly entered the community he would speak to his supervisor about accessing the video feed to get a picture of the person claiming to be me. He also assured me that he would send a patrolman by the house I used to check on so they could make sure nobody was there. A few minutes later I got a phone call from a different security guard who had checked out the house and said that nobody was inside and there was no sign of any disturbance on the outside.

I was relieved on behalf of the couple I’d gotten to know over the past few years but was still completely worried about how someone knew the address to give and had gotten an ID with my name on it. It is one thing for someone to steal a credit card number and impersonate you by spending your money online or routing money from your bank account but it’s pretty frightening thinking that there is someone who is pretending to be me in person. The guard told me that their video feed had been spotty because of the impending hurricane but he would try to retrieve the data if they had it and would call me back if they got a picture of the impersonator. I thanked him for his time and asked him to please remove my name for the list of approved guests into that community so that the fake Kendall, whatever he is up to won’t be able to use me as a way to get in there again. It’s been several hours and I haven’t received a follow up call so I’m assuming that there is no picture of the person who was pretending to be me. If you’ll indulge me I would like to close with a bit of knowledge. I don’t condone identity theft in any way, shape, or form but there are millions of people in the world with much more exciting lives than mine. So whoever you are, fake Kendall, you chose poorly. Literally.

The Time I Almost Got Arrested

Back in the fall of 2013 I decided that after seven months without much success as a realtor it was time to give that up and pursue a line of work with a more reliable income but I wanted to honor my clients with existing deals in place so I wasn’t going to quit until the last deal was done. I had been working with a difficult couple from Boston whom I found a condo for in a retirement community but the process to ownership was taking awhile because that particular property was in probate, meaning the previous owner had died and while it was going to be sold my clients had to wait through months of court proceedings where the executor of the will was named before they could legally buy it. They were under contract but there was no definite date for the transfer of title due to the previously mentioned probate situation.

These clients of mine were quite impatient and even though they knew that there was no certain timetable for the legal process to be complete still called me almost every day demanding information from me and at times yelling at me even though I had no control of the situation. It was harassment but I put up with it because these people were recommended to me from a realtor I worked closely with and that I respected so I was just trying to do right by him by putting up with the insanity. The clients are what people in Florida referred to as snowbirds or people from up north who moved to Florida during the winter to escape the harsh cold and snow. They wanted to move down that winter of 2013 but unfortunately the title to their condo still couldn’t be legally transferred to them so in the spirit of helping them out I looked for properties that they could rent for a few months in the Winter so that they could at least live in Florida while they awaited the close of probate which was something they were open to.

I found them a beautiful rental right across the street from the beach at a reasonable price and they were all set to move in at the very end of October. They would be flying from Boston and I was going to meet them at the office and escort them to their rental home and everything was going to work out great. The time they had agreed to meet at the office was about half an hour after their plane was supposed to arrive although they didn’t tell me this initially so I got to my office and after waiting for a bit decided to give them a call to see if they had made it. Their flight landed in Orlando about two hours away and they hadn’t bothered to realize that it would be impossible to be at my office at the time they had originally said. We agreed on a new time and I showed back up to my office about ten minutes early when I received a call from the receptionist informing me that my clients were waiting for me and were quite unhappy that I was late. Idiots. I went upstairs to meet them and apologized for my tardiness which was stupid because it still wasn’t the time we had scheduled to meet but I just wanted to get through this process as quickly and painlessly as possible and be done with these psychopaths for good.

They followed me to the rental condo and upon arrival I realized that the address on the listing was shared by everyone else in that community and I didn’t have the specific unit number. I had talked to the realtor with the listing earlier in the day and she informed me that she was going to leave the unit doors unlocked and they keys would be hidden inside since we weren’t able to meet earlier in the day and I made the mistake of mentioning this to my clients at the office. So while I tried calling the realtor to get the specific unit number my idiotic clients decided on their own to walk around and try opening doors to find their condo. The agent I was trying to reach didn’t answer her phone but by the time I got through leaving a voice mail I heard angry yelling behind me. I could not believe that these people had been trying to open doors which is completely appalling. They had walked in on a family eating dinner in the kitchen and that family was very angry which is completely understandable given the circumstances. I walked over and apologized on behalf of my clients which was met with yelling by both the husband and wife of the condo and my clients who insisted that I had directed them to open doors until they found the right one which was a complete lie.

I was stunned that they were boldly lying about me and as I denied it vehemently to the angry homeowners I heard the police sirens coming towards me. They had called the cops because of an attempt at breaking and entering, an accidental crime that my clients had stupidly committed but were now blaming solely on me. This was the only time have ever been questioned by police as a suspect in my life and it was not a pleasant experience. They separated me, my clients, and the other couple and talked to us all separately. I was the last one they spoke to and I could tell that he thought I was guilty of orchestrating this ridiculous plan. After explaining my side of the story and showing my phone call history as proof that I was on the phone at the time of the alleged breaking and entering the only concrete proof of wrongdoing was that my two clients walked into a home alone, without me while I was in the parking lot on the phone.

The police were there for over an hour, talking to me and my clients who had unfortunately been reunited and then going to speak with the homeowners presumably to find out if they were going to be pressing charges. Every time the officer stepped away from us to go speak with the other couple my clients would yell at me telling me how all this was my fault and the fact that the condo they wanted was in probate was causing so much stress on their lives. At one point the wife began crying and the husband yelled at me for that too although it couldn’t have been because of something I side because I stood there silently taking the abuse hoping more than anything that I wouldn’t get arrested or have to pay a fine for the stupidity of people I was working for.

Eventually the charges were dropped and the police officer left me to be harassed for a while longer by my terrible clients. They ended up not renting the place because they thought they would be viewed as criminals by the rest of the community for walking into a strangers home and committing a CRIME. I don’t know what happened to them after that but I told them I couldn’t work with them anymore and I told the Realtor who recommended them to me he could take them if he wanted but I was finished with them. Maybe the went for a swim in the ocean the next day and drowned. I can dream right? That was the last real estate deal I was ever a part of and to this day I don’t regret my decision to let my Realtor license expire. There were very few pleasant experiences in my brief career as a real estate agent but the time I almost got arrested definitely tops the list.