By Jeb Bing
Despite a depressed market, here's a Realtor who can laugh it offUploaded: Oct 2, 2009
In the current depressed real estate market, it's good to have Realtor friends who are nevertheless upbeat and humorous.
I've known Hometown GMAC Realtor Pat Griffin for years, although not nearly as long as her 30 years of selling homes, townhouses and mobile homes in Pleasanton, an anniversary that she is celebrating this month. During that time, she has sold hundreds of homes here and in the Tri-Valley and even beyond.
Many of you no doubt have been her clients. Still more may have seen her on stage at Tommy T's or the open mic sessions at Bunjo's Comedy Club in Dublin on Friday nights. She does stand-up comedy that keeps audiences laughing -- good, clean comedy that can be hard to find these days.
She's also the resident comedian at meetings of the Valley Marketing Association of Realtors on Friday mornings, where she's served as president twice and held other offices. One of her favorite lines at these Friday morning meetings, after her colleagues have talked about their listings of $700,000 and $1-million-plus homes is to offer an alternative two-bedroom, one bath, fully-carpeted unit for $99,000, or even less ... in one of the two mobile home parks on Vineyard Avenue just east of Bernal Avenue.<P>
And, she has takers. She sells more mobile homes (she calls them manufactured homes since most of them aren't mobile anymore) in Vineyard Villa and Hacienda mobile home parks than any other Realtor. In fact, few want to bother since selling these homes requires a lot of work and, even at 6 percent commission, which these days is often negotiable.
Selling a $99,000 property is hardly rewarding compared to what a Realtor might earn from the a six-or-seven-digit sale. Still, she finds the buyers and sellers of these manufactured homes a thoroughly enjoyable, friendly and usually older group who are less pretentious and demanding of her services. She generally holds no open houses in these mobile home parks and often has potential buyers and sellers calling her for advice on quality, maintenance and financing issues whether they're her clients or not.
It's a smaller list of buyers than she has with the typical Pleasanton houses she also sells since both mobile home parks are restricted to seniors. A buyer must be at least 55 years old, although a spouse can be younger, but no children are allowed. When she first started handling mobile home park sales, they were adult-only communities. She remembers selling a mobile home to a 24-year-old man who was tired of living in an apartment. When the parks were converted to seniors only, a few of the nonconforming owners were grandfathered in and allowed to stay, but all are now gone.
Griffin said the first mobile home she sold was a small, but well furnished unit in Hayward for $16,000. Prices have climbed since then and some manufactured homes, delivered in sections by trucks, go for $200,000 and more. Most, though, are in the $89,000-$129,000 range, with many occupied by couples well into their 80s, widows and parents who have relocated from back east to be near their children in Pleasanton but prefer to live independently. Griffin says she spends many evenings talking with out-of-towners and walking them through Internet photos of the units that are available here. Many look for upgrades, which Griffin can describe, including "Universal design" features that include lower wall switches, support rails and larger bathrooms to accommodate wheelchairs and the handicapped.
Griffin and her husband Hal, who is on the staff at Ohlone College, moved here in 1978. She earned her teaching credential that year in French and history, but couldn't find a high school position in that time of an inflationary-economy. She started selling men's suits in a Hayward store, found she liked and was good in sales, and the rest is history. Pat and Hal Griffin raised their three children in Pleasanton, all graduates of Amador Valley high School. They are sons David in San Ramon; Scott in Wisconsin and daughter Ann Jordan in Denver.