Happy laughing child girl on swing in sunset summer

First Memories of Home

What are your first memories of home?

Mine are of a house my parents bought in Quebec, Canada. I grew up speaking two languages and mixing them up at times. My father was really into us and created a playground outside and inside.

We had swings, a play area and a player piano in the basement next to his office – and a swing set and climbing bars outside. I remember watching him pour concrete in what looked to me like a large and vast room. I remember swinging outside and singing “Au Claire De La Lune!” at the top of my lungs.

I sat next to my mother while she worked in the garden — and most likely I talked her ear off. She did tell me that I was born talking. I licked the bowl when she made whoopie pies. We stopped our tricycles and drank from the maple tree (our “gas” station) my father tapped in the Spring. We rode on the riding mower with my father. (He had created seats for the three of us.)

We watched Ed Sullivan say his famous “It’s a really good Shew!” And we waited for his famous puppet Topo Gigo to talk to Ed. Oh and we watched Captain Kangaroo — the baby boomer’s Mr. Rogers type show.

We even rode our tricycles in the house.

Feeling the Fear

Then there’s this murky memory of hiding behind the furnace and watching the flames through the grid, and my mother telling me to be very quiet. There had been a knock on the door. She tried to make it benign by telling us we were hiding from a salesman. She just didn’t want to talk to him because they tried to make you buy things you didn’t want.

But I felt the fear. I knew all my life it was more than just a salesman. I asked many times over my lifetime, and my mother claimed she did not remember. Even in my 50s, she would not tell me the true story.

Death Threats

It was the strike. My father was a contractor and needed to keep his crews working to pay the mortgage. So he took his crews to work sites in the middle of the night. Soon there were death threats and he had to stop, and it dragged on long enough for my parents to lose the house in bankruptcy. I wonder to this day who knocked on the door that day. People who want to kill you don’t usually knock on the door, right? Just before she breathed her last in 2012, my brother told me this story that my father had told him when they worked together. Suddenly I understood her lifelong mantra of “save your money because you never know what will happen.”

That’s how I came to be here in the US. I was seven, and my father needed work.

The Self-Employment vs. Job Discussion

When going through my parents’ belongings after they were both gone, we found dozens of blueprints of homes designed by my father with addresses in Quebec. These were homes that were never built. Homes that could have been. Neatly tucked away, they were a reminder of my father’s creativity and his entrepreneurial leanings. And they made us very sad as we realized all that my parents had left behind.

Not only did they let go of the dreams these homes represented to families, and the income it would have meant for my family and my father’s employees — but my father let go of his risk taking. He no longer had the mental energy to deal with learning the new laws in a new country, in a new language, to become a contractor again.  And they must have had the discussion — entrepreneurial enterprise or a job? What should we do to make sure we can put food on the table and pay the mortgage?

Why do I Help People Find Home?

Now that’s just my story. Home is a special space where we are supposed to feel comfortable and safe. Not everyone has had that experience. But that doesn’t mean you can’t start now to look forward to a future with a comfortable home in it. That’s part of the reason I became a real estate investor first, and then a real estate agent. I can’t design homes like my father could, but I can help transform an old house into something beautiful; I can help you find the perfect space, and I can help you sell your home, upgrade or downsize. I can even help you find resources if you are in danger of losing your home to foreclosure.

Even though it was not a salesman at the door that day, the truth is my mother truly hated salespeople. She distrusted them. So it’s been difficult for me to shed that to be in sales. There are many things we need, and we buy those things from people who sell, or large businesses like Walmart. Real estate agents are salespeople.

As a real estate agent, I am trained to help buyers find the perfect place, and to understand the searching and homebuying process. We do more than sell. We help people find home. We help them avoid pitfalls, and educate them on their options. We guide them to professionals they need, such as inspectors, contractors, lawyers, lenders. And we try to vet these people and make sure they won’t hurt our customers and clients.

By law we’re required to keep learning as things change in order to protect you. We not only have to keep getting trained, but we have to prove to the Ohio Department of Commerce on a frequent and regular basis that we’re up to date with our ongoing training. We learn the latest methods of marketing your property, or finding your property. We learn about changes in real estate law. If there are scams, we learn about them so you can avoid them — like the wire transfer scams that have become frighteningly common. If we don’t take good care of you, the fines and legal consequences are steep. Taking the initial licensing classes can frighten the complacency out of you! Some have joked that the classes should be re-labeled “all the ways you can lose your license.” Ha!

What I like about my broker’s company – Carleton Realty, LLC — is that they care about training ethical agents, and they participate in things like Habitat for Humanity builds and Race for the Cure! Don’t be afraid of going to a real estate agent. The law holds us accountable!

And don’t hesitate to reach out to me if you are searching for home or needing to sell and find a new place. I can help with both.