As real estate agents we have a wide array of technical tools available to make ourselves more effective today – laptops, notebooks, Blackberries, and Treos to name a few. We also have an arsenal that includes e-mail, websites, digital pictures, video tours, podcasts, blogs, and much more. We can literally expose properties to the world.
But for many transactions it’s the simpler, back to the basics type of assets that we need to bring to bear. Once a purchase agreement is consummated, the due diligence period begins. Virtually every home is professionally inspected and since inspectors have a secret agreement to always find something, if not many things, wrong (it’s in their oath when they become inspectors), a request for repairs list is commonly presented to the seller. If the items are agreed upon the transaction moves forward. If not, the transaction may be a risk.
So, notwithstanding all of today’s technology, in many cases the success or failure of a transaction is defined by how well you can negotiate and execute the repair list. Regardless of who is responsible for whatever repairs are agreed upon, it is common that some “punch list” items are beyond the capability or desire of the buyer or seller to complete, but they may not be significant enough to need a licensed vendor such as a plumber, electrician, appliance guy, etc. In most cases, the buyer and/or seller look to their agent to arrange for these items to be resolved.
Enter the Handyman. More specifically, in this case the Scripps Ranch Handyman, Jim Reed. Yes, the good ol’ handyman. It is increasingly rare to be able to find a really good one; one who is a professional and who you, as the agent, can count on to fix a wide range of deficiencies in the home, know the building code, do it right (in many cases better than the licensed vendor) and not charge $100+ just to show up. I fear the handyman is a rare and dying breed.
After many years of trying to refine our skills as agents and to acquire new skills, we have come to appreciate the value of such a talented individual. Kris and I don’t promote our stable of vendors very often (ever). Our best are already in great demand. But in this case we have someone who is approaching icon status. Take the top five or six agents that work the Scripps Ranch market and combine all of the homes they have entered over the years and it still doesn’t approach the number that Jim Reed has seen – and “fixed”.
Amazingly, almost every home we sell in Scripps is one that Jim has not only been in for the existing owner, but also for the two or three prior owners. He knows the whole history of so many homes, it’s ridiculous. And he has great stories. I guess since he has been doing this for so long, he knows where all the skeletons are buried, so to speak.
But, like anybody who has done anything for 35 years, Jim is starting to slow down. After each job, I meet with him at the back of his truck where he sits on his bumper to rest and we discuss how the job went. His knees are a problem and he is stalling on getting needed knee replacement operations – for both. Selfishly, I don’t know what I would do if he was out of comission for 6 to 8 weeks. May as well shut down, or ask Kris to give my power tools back.
What’s funny is that every month we see his little ad in the classified section of the Scripps Ranch Newsletter – “Scripps Ranch Handyman. One call does it all!” Why he runs this ad, I’ll never know. Jim is always booked up for weeks or even months at a time. And generally, he will not do work in other communities. Why? Because he doesn’t have to. That, and because (he proudly tells us this) his truck gets about 6 miles to the gallon. I had to practically beg him to do some work for a property I sold in Pacific Beach a few months ago. When there he was telling me stories and pointing in various directions of homes he had done in PB in past decades. Not anymore, except for my begging.
Jim’s office is his truck. When he raises the back panel, you are immediately impressed with the notion that Home Depot has thrown up inside. Every imaginable tool and spare part one could need to rebuild the Parthenon is on display, and those spare parts have saved our sellers and their repair projects more than a few times.
Our Scripps Ranch Handyman is incredibly good at what he does, but I get the sense his work is not about the money, at least not at this point. He loves the work, but mostly he loves the people. And, after all, this is a people business.