In our real estate careers, there are many choices to make. What company do I work for? How much should I spend on advertising? How far do I go for my client? This last question was one that REALTOR® Mike Ready could easily answer: “All the way.” His I’ll-get-the-job-done attitude was one of the characteristics that made Mike a successful real estate agent. Unfortunately, it was the same attitude that cost him his life.
My goal in writing this is two-fold. I want to pay tribute to a great fellow REALTOR® and share a lesson for those he left behind. Be safe out there; no deal is worth your life!
Mike Ready joined my office in 2003. He started out on a team, but eventually struck out on his own and was doing quite well for a new agent. His sales in 2005 were over $3 million and the month before his accident was his first million-dollar month.
Mike was one of those people you just love to see when you drop into an office. His flat-top hairstyle and ear-to-ear grin made you smile, no matter what your mood. He was also very handy. He would at times work all night painting apartments for his father-in-law or doing all the little things to keep a transaction together. This was the case on the night of December 14, 2005. Mike was planning on painting all night, but had to do a quick job at a home that was about to close. The inspection report indicated bird nests in all seven attic vents in a home he had sold. Since the inspection clause in the contract didn’t specifically cover this and the seller didn’t want to do it, Mike, as always, volunteered to do it himself.
He had completed removing six and was on his way to remove the last one located over the front door area when he saw a board. He assumed the board was lying across the ceiling joists. Unfortunately, it was lying between them. When he stepped, the drywall ceiling gave way and he fell almost two stories breaking vertebrae 3 to 7 and was paralyzed.
His wife, Bobbi, tried to call him on his cell phone that night, but it didn’t answer. As she knew he was painting all night, this was nothing new. He was found in the morning by a carpet cleaning crew. Mike spent the next month in Bromenn Hospital locally then was transferred to St Louis Institute & Barnes-Jewish Hospital for two major neck surgeries and months of rehab. He was paralyzed from the neck down, but did have some slight arm movement. The prognosis wasn’t good. Mike’s positive attitude didn’t waiver—he always said he would walk again.
On July 8, 2006, he arrive back home in Leroy, Illinois. With the help of his real estate office and the local community, his home had been retrofitted with a wheelchair ramp, an updated first floor bedroom and a handicapped bath. And he was determined to go back to work and to walk again. In 2007 he went back to work. In 2008 as part of the Char Huff team he had almost a million dollars in closed sales when that December he became ill and was hospitalized. Being paralyzed, he couldn’t help the doctors with “where it hurts.” Tests revealed some type of infection. Later, it was found that his appendix had burst. The infection spread and he died on January 17, 2009.
It can’t be disputed that this is a tragic story. But did it have to happen? What can you take from Mike’s tragedy? Here are some ideas to help you stay safe.
- Don’t do things beyond what you were hired to do, especially outside your area of expertise. Washing a window is one thing. Replacing a gutter or electrical outlet is another.
- Don’t do plumbing, electrical, HVAC or anything that requires a license. Besides the safety issue, you could also be liable for anything that goes wrong with your repair.
- Stay in touch by cell phone. Check in on a regular basis. Someone should know where you are at all times.
- Let your family and/or office know if your phone is GPS capable. The police can turn that function on to find you, in case of a felony.
- Take care in all listings. Vacant, foreclosed homes can be dangerous. But even newer homes, like in Mike’s case, can present hazards.
- If in doubt, don’t do it!
REALTOR® Kerry Kidwell, ABR, CRS, GRI, GREEN, e-Pro is a real estate agent and instructor from Heyworth, Illinois.