The Birth of a Neighborhood

This is a guest post by Zac Parsons. Enjoy. – Erich

About a year and a half of an earlier stage in my life was spent in the industry of new home sales.  My experience in ministry didn’t pan out as I would have hoped.  I still found myself in a position to want to help people, but not with all of the political red tape of working in a church.  Since owning one’s own home is seemingly part of the American Dream, being a part of the that dream fulfillment was very attractive to me.

I began as a temp.  A temp is someone who fills in for a full time new home sale associate on one of his or her days off.  It wasn’t good money, but it gave me experience and allowed me to meet people within the new home industry.  I was able to travel around the area, and learn what I liked and did not like about new home sales and the career path of a new home salesperson.  Ultimately, it led me to a builder who was building a community less than a mile from the high school that I graduated from.  After temping with the builder for a month, I was interviewed, tested, and ultimately offered a position as a full time floater for the company.  Now, I would exclusively temp for this builder at all of their locations around town.

After a few months, I discovered that a position would be opening for a new community, just a mile away from where I had first met this builder.  It was a farm that was near to the area in which I had grown up.  I lobbied and applied for the position, and was thrilled when I was given the opportunity to sell homes for this neighborhood exclusively.

I had a sales partner, who had her own clients.  Because of the length of time it takes to build a house, I got to know all of her clients as well.  I answered their questions, demonstrated the features of their new home, and painted a picture of what the community would be like when it was no longer just dirt.  It was a challenge at times to find the right way to describe what the neighborhood would look like.  Some people wanted to perfectly manicured lawns.  Other people wanted to see the streetlights lit up at night.  Everyone loved the idea of people outside, knowing their neighbors, and using the playground and park area.

As the months went by, homeowners would stop back in to check on the progress of the lots sold, the plans for the development of the common areas, and the prices of the homes.  Unfortunately, with our economic situation, it hurt for them to see the prices drop again and again.  It hurt me as well, because I was with them on the journey to fulfill the American Dream.  These homes were supposed to be investments.  They were supposed to provide a base to grow from.  I felt like I was a part of the sadness that they felt.  I was one who advised them of making the decision to purchase.  I wondered what they thought of me, in all of it.  I wondered if they regretted their decision, since the community was still mostly a construction zone, and their homes were worth so much less than what they had paid for them.

About 6 months ago, I left that position, to pursue a career in psychological growth education.  During that time, one of my home buyers mailed me an invitation to attend their engagement part at their new home.  I hadn’t been back to the community in that time, and didn’t know what to expect.  As I pulled into the neighborhood last Saturday, I could hardly believe my eyes.  There were at least a dozen new homes started, where there had been dirt before.  The grass in the common areas was completed.  Three of the streets were completely finished and occupied.  It was amazing.

I could not find a place to park on the street, so I circled around behind.  As I was driving by, one of the young couples that I had sold a home to was standing outside with their dog.  I stopped my car, rolled down my window, and gave them a friendly:  “Howdy!”  Their faces lit up and they practically bounded towards my car to greet me.  They were extremely happy with their neighborhood, their new neighbors, and the fact that they were a part of something at it’s beginning.  The financial implications of buying a home when they did, did not temper their goodwill towards me.  We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses, and I felt great about the good fortune of running into them.

I ended up parking on the other side of the neighborhood, where I knew every one of the homeowners.  As i walked down the street, I remembered putting SOLD stickers on the signs in what was a dirt lot with each different family.  I imagined them living in their homes, eating their meals, playing together, and feeling safe.  As I rounded the corner near the playground, I heard children shouting and playing.  About 20 kids were engrossed in a game of kickball, barely being able to see in the twilight of the evening.  Some parents were talking on nearby benches, peacefully enjoying the weather and the community.

At the party, I was greated with hugs and words of genuine appreciation for my role in helping them build their home.  They spoke of how much it felt like a community now, and how happy they were to have such a place of their own.  I didn’t stay long, but I thanked them for inviting me and gave them a small gift.

There are so many things in life that you cannot see for what they are until to take time to step away from them.  On some level, I knew that I was a part of building a community, but when I was frustrated by slow sales, dropping prices, or other dramas of the industry, I lost that vision.  There was not one moment of the dirt becoming a community.  It was dozens and dozens of moments, many of which I was not in control of.  This is how life functions.  Where you are now is not exactly where you will be one year from now.  Growth will occur.  It is up to you how much you will be a part of that growth, and in which direction it will occur.