By Jen Beehler

I had a first-time buyer that I helped to purchase a townhome in downtown San Jose. When they had their housewarming party, I was thrilled that they invited me to attend and celebrate this momentous occasion. At the party, I met the buyer’s Aunt, Geetha. She was this sweet little older woman that shared stories of her family and plans for the future. She took my card, and I genuinely thought nothing of it but was warmed by our encounter.

A few months later, I get a call out of the blue from Geetha. She advises me that her husband is retiring and she wants to talk about estate planning with me. His monthly income would be limited with no chance of growth once he retired. She wanted to go over all their options so they went into this with eyes wide open and were prepared and sustainable.

We first explored what downsizing would look like and we quickly learned that prices had increased dramatically since they bought their home. Any type of downsizing would be accompanied by a larger tax bill than they paid now, so the value was not truly adding up.

She invited me to coffee in her home so I could evaluate the property to determine market value. Her home had a wonderful layout that included a bonus room at the back of the house. It had a private entrance, vaulted ceilings, and loads of light. The space was about 400 square feet. As we sat down for coffee, we devised a plan to turn that room into a rental unit that could be used to offset her mortgage to accommodate their future restricted budget.

I connected her with contractors, guided her through design, and helped her choose materials that would have minimal upkeep and withstand the beating a rental needs to be able to take.

In the end, she created a wonderful studio apartment that was beautifully finished. It rents for $1500 per month which helps cover a majority of the whole property’s monthly output. This creative solution will give their family security moving into retirement and will ensure they could stay in their family home for as long as they so desired.

Finding the solution for your clients doesn’t always involve a transaction. Sometimes it means helping them pull out the potential in exactly what they currently have so their lifestyle and needs are being met, while simultaneously protecting their financial foundation.


These REALTOR® Hero stories are part of a new series where SCCAOR Members write about all the extra care, compassion, and creativity exhibited during a transaction that sets the “REALTOR® Hero” apart. Do you want to be featured on our blog? Click here to submit your story!

By Barbara Lymberis

REALTORS® are often challenged to go above and beyond the usual when dealing with a client’s particular situation. In the case of one of my recent clients, an encouraging word…in fact, hundreds of them…can go a very long way!

In early 2016, I took a listing in Saratoga, CA with Nick, my real estate partner and husband. Our client, Jan, had been severely injured in a horseback riding accident and was in a wheelchair, virtually unable to walk (although she subsequently slowly recovered). Her son, who was also disabled, lived with her but was not able to assist her, so her daughter who lived in the area, but not very close by, was dropping in as her schedule permitted to check on the family. Jan was a skilled nurse and was depressed at her inability to fulfill her nursing obligations. She did attempt to go back to work while in the wheelchair, but it wasn’t easy and her duties were necessarily reduced.

When Jan bought the home ten years ago, she had been assured that all prior work was done with the necessary permits. As we got into the sale process, we found that this wasn’t the case at all, and no permits could be found. The garage had been rebuilt, without permits, and in order to expand the home, the garage would have had to be torn down, which she wasn’t prepared to do either financially or physically. On top of that, all of the belongings from her deceased mother were packed into the garage from top to bottom.

The rest of that home was also in what could only be called a “hoarding” situation. The home was fairly large and Jan hadn’t been able to clean for quite a while due to her disability. When she decided it was best to sell the house, a huge issue was breaking this roadblock of procrastination and clearing out the home.

It looked like we were facing a perfect storm of hurdles. To make matters worse, we then found out that a bank wouldn’t lend on the property! It was at this point that we knew we had to find a contractor to purchase it, and someone to help Jan clear everything out.

We found the perfect service to help Jan, but it was a struggle – she was so tired and in pain most of the time that she wasn’t able to work much on her own to sort and pack. After speaking with the service company, we decided to make encouraging calls to Jan every other day or so, and that seemed to really help. We also requested that they go out to assist Jan much more often than normal just to be sure she was making headway. We all did a lot of hand-holding, and we were all pulling for her!

We ended up receiving offers from two contractors, both of whom backed out of the deal. Then a third contractor made a decent offer, and we negotiated a free 60-day rent back as well – which ultimately had to be extended because Jan just couldn’t get out of the home in time and needed extra weeks! Luckily the contractor was in the middle of getting permits to begin work on the home and the process was delayed a few times!

The big day finally came when most everything was taken care of, and it was time to look for a smaller home for Jan and her son. We found them the perfect home in the Santa Teresa area. This recently remodeled home was a size that she could handle and it was very near a good friend of hers from work who offered to be Jan’s ride to work on a daily basis until she was able to drive herself again. They actually continued riding together even after her recovery. The house also had a large yard that was perfect for her dogs. Jan was so happy and grateful to have the entire ordeal behind her and to have landed in such nice surroundings at the end of the journey. It was a true joy to have made it all happen for her and to hand her the keys on the day escrow closed! It was truly one of our most difficult and most rewarding opportunities to help a client reach her goals.

These REALTOR® Hero stories are part of a new series where SCCAOR Members write about all the extra care, compassion, and creativity exhibited during a transaction that sets the “REALTOR® Hero” apart. Do you want to be featured on our blog? Click here to submit your story!