67 Making a List

On Saturday, R. M. and his personal assistant, Mrs. M., arrived at the POPS to take photos for the new listing. Mid-day was a good time to shoot a southwest exposure; bright, but not yet glaring in the sun’s afternoon rays. Owners often had their own fond images, of lingering sunsets and night lights, that they were only too happy to supply so these evening enhancements weren’t omitted from the presentation. Mrs. M. photographed from building exterior to unit interior, and out again through the common amenities and garage. She preferred that owners not be given an opportunity to advise her as to which shots she must take – as in, ‘that’s a very special doorknob’ – relying on her own practiced sense of how to present the unit to best advantage. R.M. left her to it, maneuvering the seller from room to room out of the way of pictorial progress, all the while discussing increasingly finer points about listings. He had a bit of time to fill.

“The word ‘list’ means many things.” Sebastian looked interested. Some of his sellers instantly changed the subject.Chapter 67 Making a List

“And it’s both a noun, and a verb.”

“Comes from a root word meaning border or edge. It can mean a strip of cloth along the edge of fabric, or a strip of wood, or even a stripe of color.”

“I’m not familiar with those and I’m a geographer, familiar with borders. I’ve heard ‘list’ used as a boundary.” They moved back into the now photographed dining area and sat down.

“It can also be a ridge of earth between furrows. As a verb, it can be to plow or to plant with a tool called a list that piles up earth on each side. And from this idea, of something narrow, we arrive at a slip of paper with an ordered series of names, words, or numbers and, by extension, to list in order, or rarely, as a synonym for enlist.”

“A list on a list of a list.”

“But the list goes on. With a different root word implying lust or desire, to list is to wish. It can mean to bend toward, or incline, as a ship might list to one side. Yet another root meaning is to hear, as in to list-en.”

“To list to the list of my list.”

“The one I like best is the plural – lists – the high fence made of upright stakes enclosing a tournament ground.”

“The jouster entered the lists with his lance.”

“I think of that whenever I enter a new listing myself. I’m about to enter the arena full of fierce competitors in our aggressive condo market.”

“Let’s hope. And a ‘listing’?”

“Being included in a directory – in this case, in MLS. ‘Making a list, checking it twice, going to find out…'”R.M. crooned.

“Who’ll meet our price,” Sebastian supplied.

Mrs. M. sent R.M. the signal she was about done. “We’re agreed, then. Matthew has power of attorney to sign the contract. I’ll send the contract for him to sign and date for tomorrow. After he signs and dates, he must send it back to me within the period allowed for submitting a new listing.  I’ll enter it on Monday, complete with edited pictures. It will turn up a shiny new penny on Tuesday, when many Realtors check for new listings and visit brokers opens on their tour day. The following Tuesday, I’ll host a brokers’ open here to showcase it to the agent community.”

“But we can start showing it, when?”

“On Monday, depending on the showing instructions. You have several options. Gervase can allow in agents bringing buyers, but that limits you to the hours he’s here.”

“Well, that’s no good. It’s summer. The beautiful sunsets happen after he’s gone.”

“I agree. In fact, we sometimes get requests specifically for showings after dark, for the city lights. Or, I can place a lock box outside. It has a code, given out to agents with a confirmed showing, with the keys inside. Or, if you’re here you can let people in and take a walk. Or, I can be present for all showings.”

“I’m listing,” Sebastian joked, “towards a lock box. Let’s just hope that the buyers aren’t listless.”

“Buyers are like phantoms, here today, gone tomorrow. Wanting to buy one minute, and without a desire, or the means to do so in the next. But let’s work on getting some showings, first.”

“There’s something else I want to ask, on a related subject. Wilt thou list?” R.M. did a crossword puzzle daily for his brain’s sake and had no power to resist anyone who so playfully conversed about words. “Can you give me advice on real estate that you haven’t listed or that isn’t listed at all?”

“I can’t write an offer for you unless I’m a party to the transaction but I can give some general information, including pricing. What’s up?”

“Matthew and I are thinking of buying a smaller unit in this building. What should we be thinking about before doing that?”

“If you were my buyers, I’d certainly take you out to see similar units in other buildings for comparison. There could be significant price differences.”

“But what about quality differences?”

“We’d compare those, too. Some Gold Coast condos are conversions, a different sell. This building is relatively new, constructed to more recent standards.”

Milwaukee's Gold Coast

Looking east to Lake Michigan and Milwaukee’s Gold Coast

“So when I factor in quality, the price always goes up?”

“It should. Some people pay a premium to live where they want. Only in Milwaukee is it a sin to pay full price.”

“This is someone we know, who bought it new. We want to be fair but should we expect to pay what he paid for it?”

“That depends. Prices in this particular building are holding relatively steady.  Not what everyone thinks. But you’d have to consider condition, as well.”

“If we can work this out with him, he wouldn’t have to list it, right?”

“Correct. He’d go to his bank to arrange a payoff of his mortgage, and produce a title.”

“Thanks. Now, I’ll tell you what it’s all about. It’s Hans. You know him?”

“The association treasurer? Yes, a little, but not his unit. I’m sure he’ll know how to handle it.”

“He jokes that his is the cheapest condo here.”

“Oh well, in that case, I do know it. Why that one?”

“We like the building and the service. We’re making friends. We’re often away and don’t care about a view. When one or both of us are in town we need a home and we’re fine to share it. And there’s a parking space. I’m sure it won’t be that cheap but we’ll have inherited money.”

“A pied-a-terre, it’s often called. Where is Hans moving?”

“That’s the other thing. He’s going to buy the unit across the hall, on the northeast corner. It has a den for an office.”

“And that unit owner?”

“Not sure. Out of town, maybe.”

It sometimes happened like this in a building. A Realtor sometimes ‘farmed’ a condominium, especially if he or she were also a resident, trying to catch as much action as possible on either the buying or the selling side. Hans was doing the same with accounting services. R.M. wouldn’t mind joining in this upcoming, musical chairs dance of the condo owners.