About twelve years ago, Slate Magazine mused on “The Poetry of Donald Rumsfeld.” They even correlated it to William Carlos Williams, one of my favorites on the American Canon. They are responsible for the title, Mr. Rumsfeld for the flowing music of the words.
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don’t know
We don’t know.
I point these words out for apolitical reasons, reasons that are strictly focused around the real estate industry.
Every real estate transaction has thousands if not hundreds of thousands of variables.
Counting the seven page Seller’s Property Disclosure, every real estate contract has several hundred options and blank lines where price is just one such item.
Every home has hundreds of variables, perhaps a 140-year history, and a range of legal recordings across the land from water rights, to avigation easements to historic mining claims to General Palmer’s liquor prohibitions.
Add to all that objectivity, the vast subjectivity of human particularity, and the stories of hopes dashed, hopes met, and lives lived that are more dryly referred to as “principals” of a transaction, Buyers and Sellers. Within the human condition lies the potentiality for nearly any imaginable outcome. These balls of potential enter the home buying and selling equation at the crux of profound personal change:
A new home.
A smaller home.
A bigger home.
A new job.
A terminal condition.
An unnamed trauma.
An unspoken silent partner that’s really the transaction’s puppeteer.
The job of an agent is to discuss the human element of a transaction and represent the motivations of their client. Sometimes these motivations are consciously expressed. Other times they are miles below the surface but controlling the show across the sea’s tumult.
Anything can happen in a real estate transaction. In 17 years of doing this, experience matters because we have seen a lot.
But we have not seen everything. Not even remotely.
Rather than retell the war stories of oddity and bizarre, let us instead meditate on the many directions a transaction can take. The “also’s”. The “unknowns”. The ones we don’t know, we don’t know.
Rather than encourage a sort of hyper-vigilance and a profound distrust, this is an invitation to do exactly the opposite: Hope. Trust. Sleep well at night. Have a transaction where you can honestly state, “we did our job well.”
Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and the offense we encourage all of our clients with is a simple word: kindness. Kindness is not the same as nice. Nice has a heart made of Cheetos. Kindness has courage. Kindness is of the heart. Kindness is exercising bravery with responsibility with an endurance that allows care to be administered, and harm to hopefully be avoided. Kindness makes eye contact. Kindness is a genuine smile.
We do request that our clientele be as honest as possible with their motivation knowing that it will be held in confidence. But we also request that our clients be as human as possible. Human beings may make wonderful political platitudes of being unbending and unflappable in the face of adversity, but experience tells us all differently. Every person changes. Every person encounters the unknown. Real Estate transactions have a sneaky way of showing just how much unknown terrain there is.
Navigating the waters of the unknown with rigidity is likely a recipe for canceling out goodness.
Navigating instead with the purpose of kindness allows the unknown unknowns to be faced with courage.