Real Estate Lessons in Movies: The Descendants (2011)

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If you were to describe a film about a husband and father dealing with his wife's impending death, chances are you wouldn't expect to use the words warm, funny and easy viewing. But that's exactly the hard-to-walk line Alexander Payne's The Descendants achieves. When the wife of Matthew King (George Clooney) gets in a serious boating accident, it falls to him to take care of his 10-year-old and 17-year-old daughters, Scottie (Amara Miller) and Alex (Shailene Woodley).

With the clever script of co-writers Alexander Payne, Nat Faxon and Jim Rash, what could otherwise be a sad tale of loss becomes one of humour and hope. As Matt and Alex embark on a mission to inform family and friends of their wife and mother's condition, they meet a whole host of quirky characters, learn secrets about their injured family member they have a hard time making sense of and bond in unexpected ways.

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Clooney, Woodley and Miller's portrayals of family members at a critical and confusing juncture in their lives is honest, committed and often filled with an unexpected mix of tears and laughter. The ways in which we as people deal with change and loss is a constant mysteryand this true-to-life struggle is brilliantly captured in The Descendants.

But you won't just learn about how to cope with tragedy in this film. While Matt is dealing with the painful news of his wife's condition, he is also preparing for a huge sale of land. He and his cousins have inherited 25,000 acres and because the trust will dissolve in seven years, they've decided to bite the bullet, take a vote and find someone to sell it to. As Matt has been named the trustee, there is a lot of pressure on his shoulders to make the right decision for his family, his relatives and all those who live in the area. Talk about an intense situation! But if he can make the right decision about how and when to sell, so too can you, with a few lessons on doing real estate the Matt King way.

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1. Find some peace of mind

Okay, maybe you don't have 25,000 acres to sell as Matt does. And maybe selling what you own won't change the entire landscape and economy of the area you live in. Still, whether it's a couple of acres or your current cozy bungalow, selling something you own is a big deal. And at times, that fact can feel overwhelming. You want to find the right buyer and of course you want to earn an amount you feel it is worth.

Matt is a business-minded person, so although we don't see it we can pretty much assume that as a smart businessman he's consulted with a few experts as well as his family as he determines what the right decision will be. If you're making a smaller sale you won't need all the fancy consultants and experts he likely has, but a real estate agent you trust can really help you out. Being able to get a clear understanding of the market and what your best decision will be can take a weight off your shoulders and help you feel confident in whatever choice you make.

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2. Don't be blinded by your emotions

There are a lot of emotions that can go along with selling a home or piece of land that you own. You may be afraid you'll never find a place you like as much as your current one, you may be concerned you won't get the amount you feel you deserve, or you may feel sad at the idea of saying goodbye to your home. For Matt, letting go of land that has been in his family for generations is no easy task. Even though he's going through an incredibly emotional time, he manages to use his emotions wiselyto instruct him in how he can pick the buyer he will be comfortable selling to. There is an important lesson to be learned herelet your emotions inform your choices but don't let them blind you. Real estate can get personal.

In Matt's case it gets very personal. Chances are you won't be making your real estate decisions with a small army of cousins as he has to, but between what you want and what each of your family members want, you may be faced with some personal challenges as to what the right decision is. Your own emotions and those of your family of course need to be taken into consideration. Use these emotions to help guide you in making the decision you and your family will be happiest with, but don't let them blind you.

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3. Do what feels right, when it feels right

Selling your home or land is a big decision and the last thing you want is to regret it. As much as Matt wants to go along with his cousins' wishes and not rock the boat, as the trustee he still has to make the ultimate decisionand he certainly doesn't want to make the wrong one. It may not always be easy to know what the "right" decision is and you may have other factors pushing you towards deciding more quickly than you would like, but if you want to do real estate the Matt King way, be sure to do some solid thinking about your decision and make the one you feel most comfortable and confident with.

There you have it folks, three ways to do real estate the Matt King way. To get more Matt advice and to enjoy a splendid film, check out The Descendants!

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9 comments on “Real Estate Lessons in Movies: The Descendants (2011)

  1. This was a good flick it reminded me of the male version of “Catch and Release” where a lover finds out their spouses secrets after they die untimely.

  2. I seen this movie. As much as I adore Clooney he wasn’t right in this role. His acting felt, “forced”. If you know what I mean by that ? Anyhow when it comes to Clooney I’d wished they’d put him in a character similar to Clark Gable. He really reminds me of him. As much as I’d hate a remake of GWTW, he would fit the bill. ;-)

  3. I don’t always like George Clooney, but I enjoyed him in this movie. I also thought Matthew Lillard did a decent job. Overall I thought it was great!

  4. I liked it. It was smooth, the pace was just right, each and every person fit their character perfectly, one movie I’d wish I’d seen on the big screen.

  5. I actually thought George was bland in this one, especially following an amazing performance in Up in the Air.

    I thought Shailene Woodley was the best and only good thing about the movie.

    I love Jim Rash, but I didn’t find this story that relatable on a more universal level. I’m sure when I’m dad or that age, I’d probably relate to it more.

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