By now most of the country is aware of the record breaking amount of snow that has fallen in the D.C. area since early December. Reagan National totals are somewhat deceiving. The airport is surrounded by concrete and asphalt for as far as the eye can see. There is a warming effect which holds down snow totals. Move out 10-15 miles as the crow flies and the snow piles up.
Back in November, Lourdes and I received a referral from one of our prime sources. We showed them a home in Westminster that just didn’t meet their dreams (who puts a hot tub in the middle of a family room?). Our new clients wanted to recheck their financing and asked that they receive listings. In early December, we received a phone call the couple was ready to move and had chosen a home in New Windsor, Maryland to view. New Windsor is located about one hour north of our office. It was an overcast Saturday morning when we ventured out. We met the couple at the home as the first snowflakes began to fall. We spent an hour going through the home. It was a gem ( a bit cluttered, but in great shape and listed at $262,000). It had the two car garage our buyers wanted. Our clients wanted to think about it. We headed back home.
An hour from home and snow falling as livestock watched us go by.
I was driving and Lourdes was taking pictures of the winter wonderland that surrounded us. As minutes passed, roads became treacherous and our speed was reduced to 25 mph ( that would extend our driving time by 30-45 minutes). Nerves were becoming a bit frayed as I pulled up to our home. The dreary gray of fall had become a post card of the holiday season.
That night, we received a call that our clients wanted to place an offer. We agreed to drive back out and meet them and get the paperwork signed. After the offer was prepared, we emailed it to the listing agent. The next day we received a ratified contract and I contacted the home inspector. He agreed to meet me at the home the next day and do the inspection. We met at the home and discovered that 18 inches of snow filled the long driveway to the house. We would have to wade through the snow to get to the house. Dave Moersen from Home Check, Inc. was wonderful. He checked every nook and cranny and filled out his report without a disparaging word about the weather.
I had one stop on the way back to the office. Another referral wanted to see a home in Eldersberg. I figured I would do a quick check and preview the home. I drove over and made my way down the country lane. Roads were sort of plowed but when I got to the home, the driveway was snow covered. I made my best guess as to which area was the driveway and pointed my little Nissan Sentra between trees and gave it some gas. Whoomp! I guessed wrong. Hidden beneath that freshly fallen silent shroud of snow was a four feet deep fifteen foot across culvert. Before I could say “Jackie Robinson”, my car was buried window deep! I sat there for a moment wondering how I could explain this predicament to Lourdes. I called. As I tried to explain what happened, I realized there was a muffled sound of uncontrollable laughter on the other end. My conversation was interrupted by a knock on the car window. I looked up and two large farmers were standing there. “Need a little help?” The two of them somehow extricated my car from the ditch and left with a wave. I called the client and told the the house was not ready to be seen.
Did I mention that this was Christmas Eve? I picked up Lourdes and Katerina and headed to my daughter’s home for Christmas Eve with the grandchildren. I had the home inspection report ready for our clients signature. They agreed to meet me at the 7-11 parking lot to sign the documents. Somewhere, communication faltered and as the clock moved towards our 9pm deadline, they were waiting for my call and I was waiting for theirs.
We finally connected and at 8:38 pm the papers were signed. I asked the 7-11 clerk if they had a fax machine. He said no but there might be one down the road (15 miles or so) in Mount Airy. I drove back to my daughter’s house and had her open a christmas gift early. It was adobe photoshop elements. I had to load the program on her computer, scan the documents, save them as a pdf and attach them to an email to send to the listing agent. I had 16 minutes. The family crowded around as I frantically urged the machine to complete each task. With one eye on the clock, I went through each process. When the program was loaded, the docs scanned and attached, I hit send. The message flashed “message sent” as the clock struck 8:59!
Then storm number two hit town.
The weathermen had been predicting 20+ inches of snow would fall. Lourdes had put together a shopping list of provisions we would need to survive until Spring. We headed to our local grocery store. There is little comfort in knowing that you are among the majority when you realize everyone else in Olney is in the grocery store. We used our team effort to fill the cart with half the supplies and I was directed to take my place in the line that wound it’s way to the rear of the store. Lourdes would dash off, pick up a few items, return to the cart, drop them off and head back into the fray. I inched forward. I was reviewing documents I had received on another transaction. We needed our clients signature and figured we would meet them after shopping. I looked over and our clients were in line in the store. On Lourdes next pass, I had her watch the cart and walked over a had the docs signed. I was happy. We could just go home and watch the storm unfold.
Then the cell phone rang.
One of the clients that Lourdes had been working with wanted to write an offer on a home in Clarksburg. It was Friday afternoon and they really wanted to have the home. Like any good agent I said “no problem, we can prepare the paperwork and bring it by your home this evening.” While loading the groceries in the car, I told my partner that we had a slight change in plans. While she was scanning and emailing the docs we just had signed, I had to prepare an offer for the clients buying in Clarksburg. I allowed that the roads aren’t that bad and we would be home before the storm got worse.
The main roads were snow covered as we headed to Rockville. I stopped to fill the gas tank and determined that snow was falling at the rate of about two inches an hour. There was about 4 inches on the ground when we reached our clients home. We went through the 50 or so pages of the offer and explained the process. It was close to 7 pm when we left. The drive from Rockville back to our office took about an hour. I could not go much faster than 25 mph as the storm piled inch upon inch on the ground. We got back to the office, scanned and emailed the offer and drove home.
The weatherman was right. We woke up the next morning to over two feet of snow. Stranded. With supplies. Stranded. There was no way to dig out. Our driveway is about 100 feet long and 16 feet wide. I pondered spring. I checked my email and lo and behold… our clients offer was accepted. Lourdes and I went to the “war room” ( actually it is really just and office area in the basement, but giving it a cool nickname makes me happy). We made up a list of things that had to be accomplished. We had two home inspections pending. Things were looking pretty good.
Then we heard the news bulletin.
D.C. area to be hit with another massive snowstorm.
Blizzard conditions expected throughout the region.
We did our preparations again. I cleared the driveway. We went to the store…again. We shoveled the 30 inches of snow off the roof on our porch. We sat in front of the t.v. and watched as dire predictions were shared on every local news channel. The storm began as flurries in the afternoon and seemed rather tame as the next day dawned. I shoveled a small path in the driveway to get the paper. Then the winds began to blow and the storm became fierce. We spent the day holding our breath as lights flickered, power went on and off and snow piled up. The snow just kept falling. The man on t.v. kept saying we were close to the back edge of the storm, but it just kept blowing and snowing.
The storm has passed. A local contractor used a front end loader to dig out a 6 foot wide path in our driveway. I managed to widen it so that we can get a car out of the garage. Lourdes mom (our live in grandmother) was happy to be able to escape the confines of the house to visit her hairdresser. We were delighted to be able to venture over to Mr. Lee’s and pick up a fine Chinese dinner. We have re-scheduled the two home inspections and have established contact with a few more potential buyers. Three storms. Close to 6 feet of snow. Three homes sold. It is amazing what you can accomplish if you stay focused and empathetic. Buying and selling homes still continues in blizzards. Contracts usually do not have any provision for extending deadlines because of weather. Agents have to work together to make sure the intent of all parties are considered. Lourdes and I would love to work with any of you. We are Realtors. We would like to be yours.
There was no mail delivered during the storm. We still managed to find a way to protect and serve our clients. It doesn’t hurt that we not only enjoy our profession, we are delighted to work together. Lourdes took this picture at the end of our multiple snow storm experience. It is a small image of our business. I am in the picture and she is behind the camera.
Everyone should know that the photo is like a transaction. Without her, it would never exist. I am a living, breathing example of the old saying “Behind every successful man is a woman“. The only difference is that in reality…she is always right by my side.
We are John MacArthur and Lourdes Tudela
Experience the Difference.