It was a sunny day on beautiful Bainbridge Island two years ago when I met with Dylan Chalk. It was at the New Rose Café, a nearly secret lunch spot hidden among the plants and outdoor sculptures at the historically significant Bainbridge Gardens. Dylan had an idea for a new book about home buying and he was seeking my professional counsel, as well as my writing, editing – and eventually – promotional skills.
As a member of the National Association of Real Estate Editors (naree.org) for more than a couple of decades, I have received enough books about buying a home to fill a very large bookcase. There was a time in fact that my mailbox would be jammed with more than one book, and I would immediately wonder how my colleague, the late-great Bob Bruss, who was the definitive real estate book reviewer, managed to plow through all of that content, as surely he could have stuffed many bookcases with what came into his mailbox.
When Dylan first asked for the meeting, I found myself thinking about the often quoted Commissioner of the U.S. Patent Office, who in 1899 said: “Everything that can be invented has been invented.” Didn’t we have hundreds of books written about home buying already?
To say I was a bit skeptical going into this meeting would be a significant understatement, but I wasn’t going to discourage Dylan – at least not without first hearing him out. After all, I had just hung my shingle officially as Kevin Hawkins Public Relations just a few months before joining Marilyn and Victor to form our WAV Group Communications division, so this was a business meeting with a potential client, or so I kept reminding myself. But what would evolve from this meeting was quite unexpected, in retrospect.
Dylan is a next generation home inspector: youthful, tall, blonde and good-looking with an impressive resume: He’s personally inspected more than 5,000 homes in the Pacific Northwest, principally in the Greater Seattle area. He also developed ScribeWare, a software program that helps home inspectors write professional narrative reports. He is the owner of Orca Home Inspection, based in Bainbridge, and also teaches clock-hour classes for Washington Realtors®.
Dylan was always thinking ahead: he was an early adopter of technology, was a pioneer in the use of infrared cameras to detect energy seepage. He also was the smartest, most knowledgeable home inspector I had ever met. I trusted him and recommended him to real estate agents. When I was in the mortgage business, Dylan and I teamed up to offer real estate agents a “How Green is Your Listing” class, complete with a YouTube promotional video.
A new idea about home buying
Dylan’s pitch for his new book was pretty straightforward:
“100 million people a month visit real estate websites, attracted largely by the ‘bling’ – the shiny granite countertops, black marble floors and those dramatic winding staircases. Five million of them will buy a home this year, but most of them will go about it the wrong way: Their purchase will be based on the emotion of the bling and not an understanding of the bones of the home.”
As we talked, I quickly realized that Dylan was talking about a completely new way to buy a home. What he had envisioned was exciting: For the first time, consumers would be able to answer a question that until now, has never been fully explored: “What are the bones of the house you are thinking about buying?”
The book would be written for consumers, yet enlightening to real estate professionals – a potential “Welcome” gift for agents to give to new clients. It would feature a treasure trove of tips, tools and strategies for looking at houses and understanding a home fully: the good, the bad and the ugly, but in a way that helps buyers put it all in perspective – so they don’t panic when they receive an inspection report and proceed to cancel a deal based on a solvable problem.
What Dylan was proposing was more transparency for the home buying process. His approach really is a completely new way: through the eyes of a home inspector using stories, photographs, diagrams and anecdotal personal experience, all distilled from thousands of home inspections over a dozen years.
The Confident House Hunter
At the meeting, I signed on. Dylan became one of my first clients because he turned me from a skeptic to an evangelist in less than a couple of hours. I was frank with him about both the book writing process and the publishing process: It would take him two years to bring his book to fruition.
Turns out my time estimate was spot on. Two years later, Dylan and I met again where it all began, at the New Rose Café and he handed me a copy his new book The Confident House Hunter, published by Plain Sight Publishing (Cedar Fort) and now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and other major bookstores retailers.
Dylan has accomplished something I think is extraordinarily unique: he’s broken new ground in providing a different and better method to home buying. His approach is very straightforward and the book is a complete how-to on this: How to really “see” a home, as a home buyer or homeowner, so one can fully understand what they are buying.
Seeing a home means paying attention to everything, and Dylan goes deeply into each area and teaches a whole new vocabulary: Core Systems, Entrenched Systems, and Disposable Systems. Through hundreds of powerful and provocative photographs — ones that you’ll never see on Zillow, or anywhere else for that matter – he shows what can destroy a home, detailing the evils of water, insect and animal infestation, and much more. Realtors can especially appreciate four sections of the book that look at homes by age, past homeowners, type and architectural style.
Honestly, I have been working in the real estate business for more than a couple of decades, have read dozens of real estate books, visited hundreds of homes during Open Houses, surfed the web for countless hours looking at real estate properties and yet, I learned so many things I had never encountered before by reading The Confident House Hunter.
Smart real estate agents will see how valuable this book would be if every seller and buyer read it at the beginning of the house hunting process. It would make everyone smarter about the homes they are seeking to own (or already own), as they would know how to size up a problem correctly. Buyers wouldn’t freak out when they read a critical home inspection.
But see for yourself: I encourage you to buy the book, and share it with your colleagues and customers. I think you – and they – will be very thankful you did.