New House Search Successful: Thanks, Ruth

Last August, three months before I moved here, my husband and I decided to talk to a realtor to see what living in the Phoenix area was like. All we knew at the time was that it was hot. Super hot.

Ruth Wachs showed up that day. I liked her from the moment I saw her. She was no-nonsense, practical, honest and had some good tips for people who want to move to this area. We chatted far longer than a business meeting should take, and when we left, my husband and I had found the real estate agent find of the year.

Ruth kept in touch. She followed up. She remained cheerful when I was not. We put our house on the market at possibly the very worst time in the last 20 years. Ruth was calm. “You will take a beating, but you will find something you like out here.” She said that so often, but I still doubted.

We discovered we had a lot in common. We were comfortable with each other. We laughed. We shared meals. I never got the idea she was angling for a commission. And by the time we lowered the house price for the third time, she said, “It won’t be easy, but there are still good houses in your price range.”

And then, suddenly my husband got an offer, and we took it. Much lower than we wanted. I was in tears, but Ruth said, “We’ll find you a good house.” By this time, the price of the houses we were looking at had dropped $100,000. Now we were under the gun. We had a closing coming up.

In one week, I bid on three houses and got outbid each time. No one wanted a contingency clause. Without cash in hand, it’s not easy. If Ruth was worried, she didn’t show it. I was worried. I had really wanted the house that the bank would not give up for my offer, nor my highest possible offer. The foreclosure houses are often vandalized, either by the frustrated owner, or by people who check foreclosure records and steal whatever they find in the house. One house in a handsome neighborhood was missing the pool pump, lights, and the kitchen sink.

I had to fly East on business, and Ruth printed out every house in the area in our price range. She culled them for what we were looking for. One day, she drove 112 miles in 110 degree heat, and turned up nothing. Ten days later, I flew West, tired and hating the idea of looking at something that “would do.” Renting was a possibility, but it meant moving twice, and moving is tough.

When I landed in Phoenix and turned on my cell phone I had three calls from Ruth and two from my husband. Ruth had found it. I was to meet her the next day. Sunday morning, I pulled up at an unassuming house in a charming neighborhood. The lots were xeriscaped, so the neighborhood looked bright and clean. The houses were older, but well-kept.

I knocked on the door of the 52nd house Ruth had looked at with me. And one foot in the door, I knew I was home. Bright, airy, the kitchen my chef-husband wants, the office/studio I wanted. And the luxury I hadn’t wanted to give up, but thought I would never find: a slider to the pool from the master bedroom.

Ruth stood there, grinning. I grinned back. She had the completed offer with her. I signed it. It was accepted later that morning. And Ruth, after 52 houses, had found the perfect place for us. Just like she said she would. Thank you Ruth, you amaze me.

–Ruth Wachs is on vacation until the end of July. But she has her cell phone with her. Buying or selling, this is the woman you want to trust with your home or search.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and certified creativity coach who is moving into her home in the Phoenix area in August, 2008.