If I was in the practice of making decisions for my parents, rather than choosing to facilitate the decisions they make, I’d have moved them into Door Number Three several months ago. Door Number One has more of the services they are interested in, but the size of the apartment will inhibit Mother setting up the kind of household she wants. Door Number Two is around the corner from their current home and is far and away the most elegant, but it’s probably more suited to my lifestyle than my parents’. However, Door Number Three requires a buy-in.
Door Number Three is a faith-based property with a wide variety of living solutions from small cottages to assisted living to hospice. Their Independent Living Community is lovely, full of activity and well maintained. Their personnel have been a joy to work with.
Mom and Dad attended a party at Door Number Three a while back and things didn’t go so well. Dad was pleased, but Mom found a multitude of things to complain about. Tuned into mom’s distress over her sister’s impending death and her own reluctance to move to any retirement property, I kept Door Number Three on the list in spite of her complaints about the party.
To a certain extent I got Mom to the property for her tour on false pretenses. She’d told me in no uncertain terms that she wasn’t interested in a property that required a buy-in, which Door Number Three does for their premiere apartments. However, since they do have rental-only apartments in one section, I insisted Mom check it out.
I spent several years as real estate agent and most of the rest of my career in sales and marketing. I can hear what people are saying even when they aren’t talking. I read between the lines. They can tell me they don’t want to pay for an ocean view all they want to, but if at every house I show them without an ocean view they ask how far away the beach is, then their mouth is saying something different than their heart is.
Brian Buffini, the founder of one of the best coaching organizations in the world, taught me that selecting a home is an emotional decision and it’s the agent’s job to justify it with reason. I won’t be getting any commission on this project, but his advice was spot on.
Back in my real estate days, faced with a client like Mom, I’d get them to the house I thought they wanted on some pretense or another. If it was a house I’d listed, this was easy. I’d just say, “Will you do me a favor? I just listed this house and I’d like you to see it. I know it’s not what you want, because it’s got an ocean view, but it would really help me to get some honest feedback on how it shows. I really respect your opinion.” One minute they’d be doing me a favor and the next I’d be writing a contract. Even if I’d read them wrong and they weren’t willing to spring for the ocean view, at least I had some feedback on my new listing.
But usually, the client was relieved that I’d finally shown them what they were looking for, so my little ruse paid off time and again. Based on this experience, I took Mom to Door Number Three. If that seems a little sneaky, please forgive me. I really am just trying to help.
As I anticipated, we were in and out of the rental apartments in a heart beat. Over in the buy-in section she got excited in spite of herself. She was discussing furniture placement. Bingo! We even visited one floor plan that she said was too big. I was loving it.
Lunch went well. She said her catfish was cold, but at least she wasn’t trying to reorganize their operation. A gentleman we’d sat with during the party dropped by our table. Mom was pleased he’d remembered her and responded graciously. I’d been right about her negative response a couple of months ago. After lunch we went back to a conference room and went over the details with one of the directors of the property.
On the way home Mom didn’t have a lot to say. It had been a long week and I was really too spent to hold up my end of the conversation, too. When she got home, Mom reported to Dad that her catfish was cold, she liked the apartments, but she wasn’t going to pay a buy-in. Am I going to be able to get her to invest in her ocean view? Stay tuned. I’ll let you know as soon as I do.