Sy has been on my mind a lot lately.
Since we’re going to assume diaries aren’t omniscient, let me tell you about him …
I always say real estate was my first love—it was the industry that captured my heart and never really let go. It all started in my late teens on the heels of the Great Recession.
Home prices were all anyone could talk about at the time. With a burgeoning interest in real estate that stemmed from binge-watching HGTV (before binge-watching was officially a thing), I turned my interest toward the news and spent most of my free time trying to keep up with everything that was going on.
This all led to a pitch I made to my mom one day. “We should buy an investment property,” I said to her. I laid out the business case and my mom, who has always been more of a saver than an investor, surprisingly agreed. I grew up in an area that was hit especially hard by foreclosures and prices had hit rock bottom, so the idea didn’t seem as financially out of reach as it would have been at any other time.
Our deal was that I would do all the work, she would put up the down payment, and we would share any profit we made from the rental income and appreciation down the road. We shook on it.
We met Sy in the mall (back when people used to go to the mall a whole lot more). He was sitting at one of those kiosks, sandwiched between someone selling the latest and greatest flat iron and another with trinkets of some variety. He was representing his brokerage and handing out printouts of properties available for sale.
Sy was in his mid-80s at the time—a seasoned veteran of the industry who already went through a few down cycles and rarely flinched. I really didn’t think he’d take us seriously when we called him a few days later and my mom told him that I, her teenage daughter, would be his point of contact.
He proved me wrong and treated me with the same respect and consideration he would any other client. Age was but a number for Sy and he extended the same courtesy to me.
Despite the general dark cloud that was hanging over real estate at the time, properties in our area were still selling like hotcakes, albeit at a third of what they were once going for. Cash investors from wealthier areas were flocking in and snatching up properties, sight unseen. It was much like the recent pandemic bidding wars, but at discount prices.
We must have put in at least 15-20 offers, beat out each time by a cash investor. At one point we told Sy to just put the search on hold. Cash wasn’t an option for us, so maybe it just wasn’t in the cards.
Instead, he encouraged us, consoled us, and pushed us when we needed it. He poured his expertise, kindness, and patience into the relationship. He kept the hope alive, drove us all over town, refined our offer strategy, and refused to give up.
Finally, after months of looking and making offers, we got one accepted.
The hard part still wasn’t over though. When title issues threatened to derail the deal, Sy spent an entire day at the courthouse records department sorting it all out. There were a number of other little things that popped up, but we didn’t even realize until after we closed because Sy just took care of it all behind the scenes.
From start to finish, despite setback after setback, he willed the deal into happening.
The house was $120k (crazy to think about looking at prices these days). I didn’t realize it at the time, but knowing what I do now about splits and taxes, and given the sheer amount of time Sy spent making it all happen, I doubt he broke even on the whole thing. Despite that, there was not a single moment where we were treated as anything less than his most important clients.
Looking back, our time with Sy shaped so much of my life and career. It fueled a lifelong love for real estate, something that may have otherwise just been a fleeting interest, had I not seen what was possible so early on. Pulling it off gave me so much confidence, which I then carried into my career and an accelerated climb up the corporate ladder. And, long before I realized it, it set the stage for everything we’re now doing at Mosaik.
That’s what great agents do. Through real estate, they help you carve out the path you want for your life. They push you forward. They guide you home.
A few years later, we sold the property and made a decent return. Although school and my career took me into a different industry, I used my share to do it again a few times over through the years and stayed connected to real estate through that. I never got the chance to work with Sy again (although I continued to luck out with some other great agents later on). I also never lived in the house Sy helped us buy. I haven’t even been by that area in a decade.
But, all these years later, Sy, that experience, and what he did for us—it all still guided me home back to real estate.
So this one’s for Sy and all the other Sys out there. Mosaik was built for them and, as daunting as this launch is, I know we’ll figure it out because we will never stop working to make them proud.