Connecting Hawaii to Sweden

My husband is from Sweden, so naturally, when I started working as a real-estate agent for RE/MAX Prestige, I googled whether RE/MAX has offices there. Low and behold — they do! I thought this might just be a little fun fact I kept in the back of my mind to pull out at parties when people ask me about my job. I definitely didn’t expect it to turn into the key factor in a story that would show off the fantastic international connections that link RE/MAX agents all around the world.

For the past couple years, my husband has been telling me that his parents were working on selling their house. His parents still live in the same house that my husband grew up in. It’s on a very small island called Torsö in the middle of the largest lake in Sweden and directly in between Stockholm and Gothenburg, the two main cities in Sweden. My husband says that while he was growing up, there used to be little shops on the island, but there aren’t any now. The island has a tiny population too — about 500 year-round residents. That number triples in summer when tourists come to vacation on the island, but that means that for three out of four seasons, the island is pretty quiet. The seclusion of the island means that anybody living there has to drive over a 900 meter bridge to the mainland and continue driving quite a while to get into town or do any shopping. Being in their late 70s, my in-laws decided they want to move closer to the nearest mainland town — called Mariestad — for convenience sake.

I’d assumed that since my in-laws had been tried to sell their house for two years, they’d have a real-estate agent working for them. But when I got my husband to call them up on the phone and translate the question for me — I don’t speak Swedish, and they don’t speak English, so my husband is our go-between — they said no, they didn’t have an agent. They’d had a few agents come through, but hadn’t ever signed up with one. Apparently, one of the agents had mentioned that they might want to “clean the house a little better before they list it,” which my husband’s mom took immediate offense to since she cleans the house all day every day.

I was surprised they didn’t have an agent and wanted to help them find one. I wasn’t really sure how buying and selling works in Sweden, but I knew RE/MAX had an office there, so I asked whether they might be open to me connecting them with an agent through RE/MAX. Once I’d done more research, it turned out that RE/MAX had eight offices in Sweden. I emailed two offices. Neither was very near to Torsö, but one agent named Johan was willing to drive for an hour and a half to see the house.

The meeting was a huge success. Far from criticizing the house’s cleanliness, Johan spent two and a half hours with them, walked all through the house, and was knowledgable, thorough, and friendly. Apparently, he was really excited about getting married soon, and my in-laws even ended up getting invited to Johan’s wedding!

I think it’s pretty interesting that as a new agent here in Hawaii, I was able to get an agent in the middle of nowhere in Sweden to help my in-laws sell their house. Hopefully, he’ll list the home and help them find a new place in town, but even if he doesn’t, this story makes me proud to be part of the RE/MAX family that stretches all around the globe.