Does a Low Income Client Deserve Your Best?

Stephanie Arnett

Our team was recently mocked by a local real estate agent for “taking any listing we can get”, even the “low income homes”. When I heard the jab, my first instinct was to lash out in anger. Thankfully, God held my tongue. Once I took a moment to rehash the statement, I came to the conclusion that it was said out of ignorance. While I do not owe an explanation, I would like to share just one of my many “why” stories…

Late one Fall evening, my phone rang. When I answered, I heard the sweetest, grandmotherly voice on the other end. She introduced herself as Ms. Bell, and asked me about a home that was for sale. I did not recognize the address, so I started to small-talk while I searched for the information.

Ms. Bell told me that she did not have access to the internet, and that she was unable to reach anyone to obtain information about the home. As any good Southern woman would do, I asked who her family was, where she was from, and how she ended up in this area. Ms. Bell was thrilled to have someone to chat with, so I learned that she was 84, widowed, did not have any family where she was living, and that she was trying to get closer to her only daughter.

I found the home online — it was listed for $37,000. I will admit, I was a little bummed by the price. However, I couldn’t let Ms. Bell know that. I took a deep breath, smiled, and told her all about the home. She thanked me for the information, and I knew that I would never hear from her again.

Wrong. Two weeks had passed, but I remembered her immediately. This time, there was no excitement in her voice, only disappointment. She was calling to let me know that she could not purchase the home. The conversation would have normally ended there, but curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know why?

She explained that she was 84, and that no bank could give her a 30 year mortgage. When I asked why she needed a 30 year loan, she explained that she could not afford the monthly payments for a shorter loan term. Her daughter tried to co-sign a loan with her, but it was not possible. Ms. Bell’s dream of moving closer to her only child was crushed.

Heartbroken, I wished her the best, and hung up the phone. Frustrated & defeated, I told the story to my Broker at the time, Jean Amos Faver. Mrs. Jean listened to every word, hugged me, and told not to lose heart. Sure… How was I not to lose heart????

Several days passed before Mrs. Jean knocked on my office door. She stepped in, and her smile brightened the entire room. Curious, I asked to know why she was so happy. She quickly told me about a grant that was available at the time, and that she believed the home Ms. Bell called about, would qualify.

Immediately, I called Ms. Bell with the great news. Shortly after, I learned that was an enormous mistake. As a newer agent, I had no idea how difficult obtaining a home grant would be. The red tape, the denials, the over-worked and drained grant workers, the impossible requests, and headache, after headache, after headache…

Through every painful turn, Ms. Bell was on the other end of the phone with kindness and grace. She knew that our venture would most likely fail, but she never gave up. Her heart kept my determination on fire.

After four months, I was told that we would have a decision within a few days. Those few days were brutal — they felt longer than the four months we had just trudged through.

Finally, my phone rang. As I stared at the number on the caller-display, my heart told me not to answer it. I couldn’t take any more bad news. I answered, and held my breath…

Five months after our first phone call, I met Ms. Bell for the first time — at the closing table. An 84 year old widow was purchasing her first home, and most importantly, moving closer to her family.

Welcome to a place where words matter. On Medium, smart voices and original ideas take center stage - with no ads in sight. Watch
Follow all the topics you care about, and we’ll deliver the best stories for you to your homepage and inbox. Explore
Get unlimited access to the best stories on Medium — and support writers while you’re at it. Just $5/month. Upgrade