A Lesson In Honesty

I wouldn’t say I was the best student in the world.  I mean, I passed all my classes and got all the credits I needed to graduate, but I just didn’t like school.  I’d rather be outside fishing or hunting or playing basketball – or hockey.

It was a Tuesday in April, 1988.  Only one more month of school until I graduated.  I woke up at my usual time, 6:30am, and went through my normal morning routine.  I had a quick shower, said goodbye to my mom as she left for work, and then I went next door to Grandma Brown’s for breakfast.

As soon as I walked in, I could hear the eggs sizzling in her cast iron egg pan.  I walked into the kitchen, and sure enough she was making me fried eggs with toast.  No one could make fried eggs like Grandma Brown.  I think it was a combination of the egg pan that never got w2 friends fishingashed and the lard she fried them in. Grandma always had a tub of lard sitting next to her stove.  I sat down at the kitchen table, closed my eyes and breathed in the delicious smells.  My mouth immediately started watering.

The tea kettle whistled, the toaster popped up and by 6:45 sharp, my breakfast was served.

At 7:00, I was headed out the door.  It was a bit cool that Tuesday morning, in the upper 50’s, but the sun was out, and the clouds were white and wispy.  The temperature was supposed to get into the upper 60’s.  It felt like the perfect day for fishing.  Trout season had just opened.

My friend Brad pulled up in his black Volkswagen GTI.  I hopped in the front seat, and we took off for the river.  We had loaded our fishing poles and tackle box into his trunk the night before.  We made a quick pit stop at the Rutters to grab some sandwiches and drinks for lunch.  Twenty minutes later we were casting our lines out into the creek.

It ended up being a great day.  Brad caught 6 trout, and I caught 5.  At 3:00, the end of our school day, Brad dropped me off at my house.  As soon as I walked in, I saw my mom standing in the kitchen doorway, hands on her hips.

“Sean, did you go to school today?”

“No,” I said without hesitation.

The lecture started.  She was not happy with me, to say the least.  This scene played out 4 more times in the next month.  I’d skip school.  Mom would ask if I went.  I’d say no, and she’d be mad.

I could have lied to my mom and told her I went to school so she wouldn’t be upset, but it never really crossed my mind.  I always believed honestly was the best policy.  Even if it had temporary consequences, like my mom being mad at me.

I still believe honesty is the best policy.  Even if it has consequences – like Peter and Canella being mad at me.  They did not like what I was telling them.  They didn’t want me to be honest.  They wanted me to tell them what they wanted to hear.

Two years ago, I sat at the dining room table with Peter and Canella.  They had just given me a tour of their home.  You could see the pride on their faces.  Their eyes sparkled as they talked about their kitchen.  Their smiles spread across their faces as they talked about the family dinners they had at their huge ornate dining room table.  They thought they had the best home in all of Southwest Florida.  They loved it.  But things happen, and they wanted to move closer to their family in Sarasota.  They had to sell the home they loved so much.

I sat with them at their dining room table and told them the truth.  Their home was not worth $350,000 like they thought.  It was only worth about $275,000.  They were NOT happy with me.  They wanted me to list it for $350,000.  I explained why I don’t list overpriced homes.  My honesty continued.  I told them they wouldn’t have any trouble finding an agent who would list their home for $350,000.

And they didn’t.  Three days later, their home went on the market for $350,000.  Months passed.  They reduced the price to $340,000.  Then the months turned into a year.  Then a year turned into two.  Their home still had not sold.  It was now listed for $320,000, and had been on the market for two years.  Two years of being hassled by showings.  Two years of no offers.  Two years of wasted time.  Time they could have been spending with their family.

About 4 months ago, I was sitting at my desk when my phone rang.  It was Canella.  She invited me over for coffee and cake.

It was like déjà vu.  I was sitting with them at their dining room table, and they were mad.  Only this time, they weren’t mad at me.  They were mad at the three other real estate agents that had been lying to them over the past two years.  Each of the agents promised them they would market their property better than the last agent.  They would be able to sell their home at the price Peter and Canella wanted.

After two years of frustration, Peter and Canella realized that I had been telling them the truth all along. They were finally tired of hearing what they wanted to hear.  They needed the truth.  They missed their family and wanted to move.

They were ready to listen.  I told them the truth.  They needed to price their home at $299,000.  I wouldn’t take many pictures of thHonesty is the Best Policye interior of their home.  Their furniture was huge and ornate and made the house feel small and cramped.

Over the next 10 days, we had 6 buyers walk through the home.  Before each walk through, I spoke to the agents and prepared them for the overwhelming furniture.  I emphasized the large amount of square footage they had in the home, the most square footage for the money.

Exactly 12 days after listing their home for sale, we had a signed contract for $285,000.

Peter and Canella were ecstatic.  They had waited two long years for this day.  The whole process went smoothly, and 46 days after I listed their home for sale, they pulled out of their driveway for the last time and headed to Sarasota.

Two years ago, I could have lied to Peter and Canella so they wouldn’t be upset, but it never crossed my mind.  I believe that honesty is the best policy.  I believe in the end, honesty prevails.  I believe Peter and Canella would agree with me.

Sean Signature

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