As we celebrate Thanksgiving this month, we should take a moment to remember that we are the industry that helps families into homes. This is a very important job that we should not take lightly. Understandably, with the hustle and bustle of life, sometimes our purpose gets lost or pushed backward; but in the end, we are the givers of joy, comfort, and security to our communities.

Ruben Pena, FORCE Advisory Chairman, shares the story of his first sale, and how he found out exactly what being an agent is all about.

“In April 1978, more specifically my birthday, my older brother (a Realtor) called me to ask if I would come by the office. It was bad news about the results of my state exam. I went over, and upon my arrival, I was surprised with a copy of my Texas RE license. I was so happy and fearful at the same time.

While at the office the phone rang. My brother said to answer it. I didn’t know what to say so he was writing my dialogue down as the call went on. The lady on the other end tells me she needs to buy a house. I said okay, took her name and number down, and told her I would work on it. I asked her a few questions, and she said she didn’t have a job and only $8k of what her deceased husband left her and the four kids.

My brother said it looked like I got a real buyer (sarcastically); no job, four kids, little money. We left to lunch and were diverted because of construction. We were forced to travel through another neighborhood and at our first turn, there it was, a FSBO. My brother said to get the number and call them when we got back to the office. I thought, ‘wow a flake buyer and a FSBO all in one hour; wonderful.’

When we got back from lunch I called the FSBO, and he said the house was a four bedroom, two bath, and separate living and dining, and he wanted $28k and $8K down to carry the note at 6 percent for 20 years.

I called the lady and told her I might have a house for her, so she agreed to meet me there. I drove over to the house and waited outside. I noticed a small group of people walking towards the house, and as they got closer, I was afraid it was her and her family. And so it was. She introduced herself and the kids and wanted to go inside. I told her I had not seen the house inside, so as I opened the house, the kids took off running through it, but they all came back into the living room and were crying. She was too. I apologized for the condition of the house, and she said to me, ‘I can’t afford this house.’ She explained it was like nothing she had ever seen. I thought it was because it needed so much work. She told me again that she needed to buy a house for her children and only had $8k to give, so I told her the owner would finance it, and that I would make an offer on her behalf. I asked her to come to the office with me. Of course, we didn’t fit in my two-door Toyota Corolla, so they walked to the office. My brother helped me write the offer and call the owner, who accepted the deal with $6k down and a sales price of $26,000 for 20 years. Her oldest daughter was a new school teacher, and they were going to use her income to pay for the house.

The next day I needed to get her initials on a document. She asked me not come to her house, but I told her I did not want her walking to my office. I drove over after spending about an hour trying to find her house, which was in an alley, not a street. The house was what we call a shotgun house- thin and long. From the front door, you could see straight out the back; no hallways, no separate rooms, just all in a line. There was a small sofa, a small bed next to it, a stove, a very small refrigerator, a curtain with a shower stall, and a small bed next to it. They were deplorable conditions.

At that point, I was humbled and realized why she liked the property. I considered it to be a dump, but she saw a beautiful mansion. I knew then why they all were crying when they ran from room to room and said this room is mine and so on. I learned the lesson of never judging a book by its cover.

We closed that Friday, and she thanked me so much. They had nothing to move; every piece of furniture was coming from family and friends. I continued to stay in touch with the family for years. At Christmas time, they used to bring me a can of homemade tamales. Through the years I helped the children buy properties, attended weddings and mom’s funeral, and to this day one of the children still live in the house.

From my first closing, I learned a great lesson, and that was to help people with their needs, not mine.”