It’s not that I was unaware of the fact realtors have a hard job – after all, I dragged my own realtor around for months, six months to be precise, before finding exactly what I was after. But to be honest, it was not until I changed careers and became a lender that I came to truly understand the caliber of our Loudoun area realtors, the skill set necessary to meet homebuyers’ needs, the adaptability it takes to function in our ever-changing housing market, and the daunting amount of knowledge required of today’s realtors.
But mostly I did not know of the unsung acts of selflessness, the dedication to community service, or the deeds of sheer human kindness regularly displayed by our realtors.
By way of background, I am a lender – a reverse mortgage lender. This means all my clients are aged 62 or better. The vast majority of my clients use reverse mortgage for long-range planning purposes in what is called a “reserve reverse.” These clients tend to be younger, healthier, still employed, highly educated, and working with a financial planner – or they’re purchasing a retirement home using a reverse for purchase loan.
But as a reverse mortgage lender it also means a certain percentage of my clients are advanced elderly. Some have very specialized needs and some are working with major life changes: loss of a spouse, major health issues, financial challenges. For many of these clients a reverse mortgage is nothing short of a miracle. And most of these clients are referred to me by realtors.
They are referred by realtors who could have seen a need but moved on without getting involved. Realtors who could have concluded there was no paycheck to be had in helping a senior refinance out of a bad situation. Realtors who could have been unwilling to make that call, go that extra mile, lend that listening ear, extend that helping hand.
So what, exactly, I am talking about?
Early in January I received a call from a realtor working on a potential listing. The older, self-employed homeowner was still feeling the effects of a struggling construction sector, and had also run into some health challenges. He deeply wanted to stay near doctors, adult children, and the community where he had lived his entire life. However, he knew of few choices but to sell: his upper-valued home held much of his net worth, and there were medical debts to pay.
The realtor could have simply tabulated the potential commission, listed the home, and ignored the homeowner’s other concerns. But he didn’t – he recommended that his potential client refinance using a reverse mortgage.
In another instance a realtor visited me at my office. Her homebuyer had a relentless, degenerative disease and needed to get into single-level living, but had been turned down for “forward” financing – a sadly common situation for retirees. A few days later when I met in person with the homebuyer in her current 5-story home, the realtor had stayed an extra hour in order to spare the homeowner a trip down the stairs to answer the door. Small stuff? Maybe. But it wasn’t small stuff for that homeowner.
And, I should mention, that frail homeowner is now safe, sound, and secure in a beautiful new home due to the realtor’s familiarity with FHA reverse for purchase.
I see realtors spend untold hours meeting needs outside the scope of their clients’ home purchase. I have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with realtors on home rehabs; I have watched as year after year realtors collect winter coats, food for food banks, blankets for needy families. I have seen drives for shoes and backpacks, school supplies and household supplies, disaster relief and emergency-housing relief. They give and they give and they give – but I don’t often hear them receiving due credit.
I’m not naïve: I know there are bad realtors, just as I know there are bad members of any other profession. However, unlike many professionals, realtors’ acts of selflessness seem to go unnoticed.
So to the realtors of our community I say this: thank you for your unflagging efforts to meet needs as you encounter them, to fight for local housing issues, and to serve our community in so very many ways.
Laurie MacNaughton  is a freelance writer and Reverse Mortgage Consultant with Southern Trust Mortgage.
She can be reached at 703-477-1183 Direct or Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com