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Keeping it Clean

At the age of three, my brother was outside one afternoon building a sandcastle and fielding bids from developers to subdivide it into condos. In the midst of this flurry of activity, he spied the family cat, Sam, from the corner of his eye and noticed that the Siamese was in need of cleaning. (How he determined this “need” is still an open debate at family gatherings.) He scooped up the filthy feline beneath his arm and started toward the house. (Most cats choose the time and place that they’ll allow a human to pick them up, and this is usually done with both arms cradling them. So, being hooked under the midsection with a small and somewhat-less-sure arm was surely an affront to this cat’s dignity.) My brother entered the house and made for the bathroom.

Kicking open the bathroom door, he noticed the air was warm and steamy – someone had already run a bath. Happy day! So, he slid open the glass door on the bath enclosure and discovered my dad was already in the water with soap bubbles floating on the surface – someone to whom my brother could delegate the cleaning chore and get back to the sandcastle and developers! Gathering his wits about him, my dad greeted my brother and asked if there was something he needed. My brother simply looked at him, cat still squirming to get free from his captor’s devilishly tenacious grip, and said, “Sam needs a bath.” Before this could register in my dad’s brain, my brother flung the helpless feline into the water with my dad and summarily closed the glass door.

This little family vignette touches upon a number of issues: real estate development, early childhood education, animal rights, hygiene, the fact most grown men won’t admit to indulging themselves in the quiet and therapeutic pleasure of soaking in a tub – my dad will probably kill me for telling this story – and the need to have a fully stocked first-aid kit readily available when you have small children around. However, the most interesting thing about this story is what it tells you about yourself in the real estate process.

1. Concern for the cat: If your thoughts went immediately to what became of the cat after being tossed into the tub with a naked man, you tend to be someone who’s attracted to the purchase side of things; you want to resolve the situation quickly and with the best possible outcome.
2. Concern for the son: If your thoughts went immediately to what became of the boy, you tend to be someone who’s attracted to the listing/sale side of things; you want it off your hands as soon as possible and want the payoff.
3. Concern for the dad: For those precious few who found immediate concern for the dad, you tend to be a loan officer – someone neither the cat nor the son thought much about before everything hit the water but looked to him as the savior of their needs.
4. Concern for who has to clean all this up: Obviously, anyone who made the natural leap to the mess the chaos would leave behind is in title and escrow.

With all that said with tongue firmly planted in cheek, there really is a simple but very important lesson to be learned here. When everyone does their job properly – and doesn’t try to do more than that – the transaction is clean and closes on time. What you do with the family cat and/or the bathtub after the transaction is closed is completely up to you.

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