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Mark Aalto's Blog

By Mark Aalto NMLS: 116708 | Mortgage Broker
or Lender in Portland, OR

Coffee, Trivia and Barista Zombies – Happy Thursday

Yesterday I had the chance to catch up with one of my favorite Realtors at a local coffee joint in Ladd’s Addition. It’s always a great way to start the day when you have the combination of Grade AAA jet fuel caffeine and a lively conversation with someone you genuinely like and respect.

So there we were, hanging out and laughing at the barista a bit who seemed just three shades above being asleep. With my sensitivity to caffeine I would likely just have to smell a few coffee beans and I’d be wide awake were I to trade vocations and be serving up a latte or two. Something seems a little odd about a person purveying a beverage that is a liquid stimulant and having the personality of someone from the walking dead. But, zombies are in now from what I hear so maybe he was just in the zone or something. Channeling a role as it were. Luckily, none of the customers seemed uptight whatsoever. And I never actually did hear the barista shout out “brains” and shuffle around awkwardly. What a relief.

Amidst a very nice atmosphere, a great cup of coffee and a few stories here and there the time passed quickly. And in the midst of our conversation I realized that my friend and I were telling the same story but from two sides of the industry. What it amounts to is this: whether we are Loan Officers or Realtors, buyers or sellers, Escrow Officers or appraisers we are all learning more than we could have imagined about multiple topics we hadn’t anticipated needing to know in order to get our transactions closed. If you think I’m exaggerating, ask any buyer or seller about their recent real estate experience. Then, wait for it, wait for it, they will inevitably roll their eyes (kind of like the zombie barista) and the next thing you know you’ll be hearing a story about non-permitted additions or endless documentation requirements, last-minute job changes, properties with Christmas trees and the unexpected twists and turns transactions can take at a moment’s notice.

The good thing about any sort of support group is when we hear the stories others share the inevitable internal response is one of kinship and the realization we are embarking on a journey that others are experiencing as well. Perhaps the destination is somewhat different but the events that happen between embarkation and arrival are eerily similar. And best case, you can hear what others have to say and murmur to yourself “wow, I’m lucky – my situation isn’t half as bad as theirs.”

Today’s market is not for the faint of heart. Transactions require hard work, patience, communication, persistence and determination. It’s not always a straight path from the beginning to the end of a purchase – detours should be anticipated. As my friend commented yesterday, I too have found myself thinking that I really didn’t want to learn half the things that were needed to close several recent transactions. At the same time, the experience and knowledge gained can be applied to new customers that encounter similar situations. After all, the most valuable component a Realtor or Loan Officer can provide to their customers is the ability to anticipate challenges before they happen. What might have seemed a trivial fact or detail from a past transaction may now be the difference between a loan closing or falling off a cliff.

I often will tell customers that the best thing about working with an experienced Loan Officer or Realtor is that inevitably we made most of our mistakes earlier in our careers and have since been able to build upon those experiences and knowledge to keep our customers out of harm’s way. It’s somewhat amusing when customers or business partners ask “how on earth did you know that?” I just smile and tell them that being a Loan Officer is like playing a game of Trivial Pursuit. Just don’t ask me where my car keys are at any minute during the day – my brain is busily trying to make room for more arcane details from loans past in order to keep present transactions on course.

If you are choosing a Loan Officer or Realtor in 2011, my advice would be to place their experience level at the top of your list of qualifications. True, they may need therapy at the end of the month after closing a few transactions but that can be easily solved with a strong cup of coffee and a good friend to converse with.

Have a great day – I look forward to talking with you soon.

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