Stephanie and Aaron Fallon weren’t planning on buying a house – at least not for a few years. Circumstances changed when the owner of the home they had been admiring wistfully from the outside sent them an e-mail indicating he was planning on selling. “We were kind of hoping we would hate it,” Stephanie admits concerning the inside, because stepping up plans to buy a house would disrupt their designs.
“It was better than anything we could have hoped for,” she says. The couple had a challenge with very different ideas about what the perfect home looked like. For Aaron, who had grown up in a modest house, his dream home was understated. Stephanie had a Texas-sized view of what a home should be – having grown in one with six bathrooms in her childhood Houston abode. This house proved to be ideal for both of them.
“The house is perfect because it’s definitely not sprawling but has space in it,” Stephanie notes. “Each room is really versatile in the way it’s laid out, has a lot of light and there are lots of big beautiful hydrangeas in front of the porch – we’re porch sitters – which offers privacy,” she gloats.
Hal Cone of RealStar helped make the buying experience they fretted about more fun than they could have imagined. “We went in a different direction than usual in looking for a house,” Stephanie states. “Even though we weren’t hunting for a house, we contacted Hal because we felt like fish out of water,” she explains.
The couple had initially contacted several real estate agents with Hal coming highly recommended by two friends who had already worked with him. What struck both Aaron and Stephanie immediately was how differently Hal approached the initial conversation. “Hal sent us back a homework assignment,” Aaron says with a laugh. This was in the form of a questionnaire. “The others wanted to meet and we could feel the sale coming on,” Stephanie adds. “I get really uncomfortable being sold to,” she asserts. Stephanie and Aaron were also impressed with Hal’s insistence on doing an initial “get to know each other” meeting to determine if it was a good match relative to aligned goals and personality with a stated plan to part ways after the meeting if it wasn’t.
“Hal, and everyone he recommended to us was so personable – that was really a theme for us through this process that was so important – these people went above and beyond and didn’t just treat us as another job,” Stephanie declares. Both Stephanie and Aaron quickly realized that if Hal made a recommendation, he already had first-hand experience that proved suitability. He also followed up regularly to ensure things continued to go well, ready to prune anyone off his list that didn’t delight his clients, ready to step in quickly to help make things right with these ancillary vendors.
Two people Hal recommended to the Fallon’s included Tricia Morton with Blue Eagle Credit Union for the financing and John Langan from Pillar to Post for the inspection.
“We had a great experience with her (Tricia) – it was a perfect fit and we really appreciated Hal ensuring this was so throughout the closing process,” Stephanie states. Of John, “He was super great because he walked us through the whole thing and wanted to make sure we were educated,” Stephanie explains. “He took a whole extra hour to spend with us that day. He talked about everything, walking us through each room and taking time to explain what he was looking for, why certain things were important to keep an eye on and even labeled everything, like the water heater in the basement, so we would know what everything was,” Stephanie says.
The couple recently celebrated their second wedding anniversary. This is the first house either has bought. It’s located in the Grandin/Raleigh Court area. They moved in the last week of January, 2017. “We really love this house – we’re so excited about it every day,” Stephanie exclaims.
She attributes that comfort with how they were helped through the entire buying process. “Hal’s really great. He knows his stuff. He’s very personable, makes sure he’s available to you and really listens. From minute one when we met him we felt so glad he was handling this new, scary experience for us,” Stephanie states. She and Aaron fell in love with the potential of the house and savored the fact they wouldn’t need to do any immediate project prior to move in. Since then, though, they did add a back porch (they’re porch sitters, after all), but are taking their time moving into the rooms within the house.
“We’re in this deep internet culture now,” Stephanie notes. “It’s very easy to have the experience of just searching for things and being overwhelmed with information then learning from trial and error. From our small network of people at the CoLab who had all worked with Hal, we knew he was someone who had worked really well with different personalities. He hustles, and we really appreciate that. You’re working with someone who really cares about the real person-to-person experience. We felt beyond lucky to have all these people who we trusted send us to Hal then have Hal provide recommendations for others that were equally impressive,” Stephanie explains.
The couple is enjoying learning more about gardening now that they’re seeing the full extent of the outdoor grounds masterpiece created by the former landscaper owner. While they could see the front yard walking by, much of the backyard beauty wasn’t visible when they purchased the house in January.
“We’re taking our time with some of these rooms, getting settled,” Stephanie admits. “Mostly we’re just head over heels with our new house, sitting in all the different rooms, enjoying all the light and realizing what a beautiful and perfect home this is for us,” she says.
Both Aaron and Stephanie are on the City Work Expo Steering Committee, so spend a fair amount of time in the CoLab. That’s how they were introduced to Hal, who is a regular at this facility too. Aaron is a grant writer working for Total Action for Progress, a not-for-profit focused on impacting poverty that was established in 1965 and now has a $20 million annual budget. Headquarters are located in downtown Roanoke. Stephanie is the adult education manager at the Taubman Museum. This makes their home location in Grandin/Raleigh Court convenient for work travel too.
“We just loved working with Hal,” Stephanie asserts.
“I felt the entire time and still do in working with Hal that we could raise any issue, offer any criticism we might have, anything along those lines and he is so open to doing everything better,” Aaron says. “He accepts input openly in a way that causes you to realize he’s always immediately ready be looking to learn more to do better,” he states.
Stephanie adds, “Aside from his ability to be so personable is the fact that he’s intrinsically motivated, which goes a long way.” Aaron jumps in with “He’s more interested in doing his best job than the bottom line.”
“For someone who doesn’t want to be sold to that is just invaluable,” Stephanie concludes.