How learning to knit made me a better buyer’s agent

When I attended a knitting class late this winter, I didn’t do it to learn about real estate. But I did. Here’s what I learned.

knittingIt should be easy.

Most agile eight-year-olds can learn how to knit. I could do it when I was eight. Why was I so intimidated about learning how to do it again? I felt silly that I didn’t have mastery over something that should be this easy. I wound the wool the wrong way. I dropped stitches. I made lots of beginner mistakes.

pointingThis reminded me, emotionally, of what many of my buyers feel when they are going through the house buying process. My clients are successful people (or they wouldn’t have the funds to buy!) Most are very smart. They work hard and did well in school. They expect to succeed. So, when they are faced with a process that shouldn’t be all-that-hard, but is, they are daunted. I feel for them now!

Little mistakes could ruin the whole thing.

knit.hw1In the first project for my knitting class, I ended up with a hole almost smack in the middle of the square I made. I couldn’t figure out how it happened or what I did wrong. With every passing row, the mistake became more glaring and obvious to me. I did the whole thing again, because I am me. At the next class, my teacher looked at it and said, “Oh, you knit into the row below it.” Her experience told her so. She could have fixed it.

Like knitting, buying a house involves many little details that add up to a finished product. Making a little mistake can ruin the whole piece, unless you know how to fix it in the middle of the process. I have a lot of experience with buying houses. My job is to fix the mistake as it is happening, so that the opportunities are not lost.

knit.hw2Corrections along the way.

On the second project, I dropped the whole thing and a few stitches fell off the needle and tangled. I was stopped dead. The next day, I went by the shop. My teacher looked, then said “oh, you are missing just one purl…all fixed!” It seemed like magic to me. In fact, it was just her expert eye.

In real estate, small visible defects can be signs of big problems. Seemingly insignificant comments can grow into negotiation standoffs. Missed deadlines are big deals. There are many such problems that pop up between, “I like this house” and closing. Like my knitting teacher, it takes me only a second to diagnose many of them, and sometimes the fix is easy.

knit.hw3The tension of not knowing.

Doing something all the time leads to mastery. My clients don’t do this all the time.

My teacher could just glance at my little wool square and see what went wrong. When I was doing that first project, I was baffled. By the end of the fourth class, I, too knew how to undo that kind of mistake (and the many others that all knitters make, and undo).

By the last class, I could easily distinguish a knit from a purl (in the front and in the back!). I was following patterns and “reading” my work. Only after learning those skills could I begin to diagnose and correct out-of-pattern stitches, undo stitches (called “tinking”) and correct dropped stitches. What I thought was magic was actually practice.

roof line, ornateI hear the tension in my client’s voices about not knowing the process. The thing about buying a house is that most people don’t do it very often. So, many never get the practice. Learning to knit has given me a fresh dose of humility by reminding me of how out-of-sorts it feels to be on a learning curve to do something that is hard, but seems like it should be easy.





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