Justine O’Connor-Petts and David Monk

Buyers, Sellers

We began our journey with Van in the spring of 2009. I’ll never forget when he showed up at our house, sat down at our kitchen table and listened. He heard us, reflected, and offered thoughts and creative strategies that resonated with everything we were thinking about as we embarked on our first-ever home sale. We already had a realtor that we had used when we bought the house. To be honest, we only had Van come over to fulfill my feeling that we needed that obligatory “second opinion.” Van had only been in real estate for about 6 months at that time and he blew us away. He had clearly done his research, prepared for our conversation just as he would have if we were selling a million-dollar home rather than a cute $250K home in North Raleigh. And then, and perhaps most importantly, he listened. He listened critically and actively, thinking through everything we had to say. After we decided to go with Van, he became our family partner in the business of selling this home. Yes, he has also become a dear friend to our family, but what mattered at this particular juncture, in 2009, was that he made it his business to get our house in the best shape it could be to ensure a quick and profitable sale. In the world of any business, the two competing priorities of expediency and profit can often fight against each other. Van understood that and understood that with hard work, honest communication, and commitment, both priorities could be equally balanced and, ultimately, achieved. His wife, Anne, made our home into a showcase, accentuating its advantages and presenting it as a well-thought out blank slate for prospective buyers. Simultaneously, Van helped us find a new home in Hillsborough, NC. Way outside of Raleigh, and outside of his responsibility, Van understood our situation and wanted to help.

Over the next 2.5 years (yes, 2.5, not 25), we sold two homes, rented a home, viewed about 75 houses together, and finally purchased the home we remain in today. Through all of that, Van demonstrated qualities that are hard to find in anyone, let alone a residential realtor. Of the most hard-to-find qualities, Van told us – more often times than I can count – not to buy a given house. Even when we were, after months of long, tiring searching, ready to buy just about any house, Van recognized that buyer fatigue and recognized that what was prompting us to be interested in a house was not that it was the right house for us but that it was, simply, a house. A house that fit maybe 50% of the items on our list. But, sacrificing his own time (and money!), Van would remind us that this is a long haul purchase. This is the place where you’re going to make memories and live for the foreseeable future. While you will always have to compromise on that wish list, you want to choose those compromises carefully. And so, many times, we would pick ourselves up, dust off that MLS search and keep on looking. And eventually, when we did find the right house (compromises and all), Van put on his big negotiator hat and went to work. Van understands that negotiations aren’t won by being a bully but by being an advocate. By being a facilitator, a guide, and an educator. Van uses those skills and that amazing brainpower of his to work that deal to ensure that what you’re getting is fair and balanced. We have always been pleasantly surprised by not only the speed with which Van can negotiate a deal, but also the terms.

Through these selling-buying adventures, Van became our realtor for life. As long as Van is doing what he does, he will be our confidante and advisor related to anything around home buying or selling. I recommend Van to everyone. I mean, everyone. I don’t care if you’re buying or selling a $100K condo or a $2m estate. Van understands that the importance of that particular purchase or sale, to that buyer or seller, is essentially equal. It is this recognition of the non-monetary value and the realization that his work is his clients’ life is a thread that runs through everything he does.

Van has remained our friend since that first home sale. Our family has gone from a family of two to a family of four. He’s seen us through career changes, life changes, and his steadfastness underscores everything he does. He is there. He is responsive. He works hard. He challenges you. He supports you. He listens. He advocates. It is literally no exaggeration to say that we would not be where we are today without his sound counsel and advising. He is a gem, and us Raleighites are lucky to have him.