November 2009

A (Fictional?) Day in the Life of a Realtor (It's NOT as easy as it looks)

Author: I.d. Liktasellahaus :o)

When I first got into the real estate business, I was a vibrant, strapping lad. The economy was moving along at the speed of light and the possibilities were endless. As we come to the end of a second year of the dreaded “R” word (a word people are afraid to say for fear it might bring about the end of mankind), I and the market resemble something completely different. Once a healthy 6’-7” 250 lbs, after years of “slugging it out” in the trenches of the real estate business, educating Mr. & Mrs. “I know all about real estate” about the local real estate market, and any other part of Murphy’s Law, or better yet O’Brien’s Law (O’Brien made Murphy look optimistic) that might rear its ugly mug, I am now a mere 6’-0” and 185 lbs. Let me explain how this newfound way of shedding height and weight makes the Atkins Diet look like an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Wake-Up. You really don’t wake up, because you never went to bed in the first place. Between short sales, foreclosures, deficiency judgments, tax assessments, oh, did I forget to mention the “R”-word, there isn’t any time for sleep. The first thing you must do is check the hundreds of e-mails you received from clients in the middle of the night. Usually, from Mr./Mrs. “My niece’s friend who has a brother who is a Realtor in New York said…”, who has watched a news report about Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale or Death Valley, California, where home prices have dropped 50 percent and are afraid the new oceanfront condo they bought on Hilton Head Island has dropped 50 percent. The last time I checked, none of these cities were in South Carolina and none of them were on an island. Ah, the information age—such a wonderful thing, isn’t it?

Shower, Breakfast & Drive to Work. These activities are no longer part of your routine, because you do not live at home anymore. You live at your office. Your chair now has the responsibility of being a Serta.

Office-Daytime. Now that you have answered the assortment of e-mails, you can begin your day; really yesterday never ended so this is a continuation of the last 3,467 days. This usually entails receiving calls from potential buyers/sellers. Most come to you because of your expertise. However, they don’t listen to you, even if you do have all the information they need, because they have a PhD in real estate from “This Friend of Mine Told Me…University.”

Buyers want to know why a seller will not sell his home for 40 percent off the list price like Mr. Reporter said he should on last night’s six o’clock news. Or they want to see every property in their price range, regardless of criteria; i.e. number of beds/baths, size, etc. Recently I sold my car and purchased a used Greyhound Bus, because I have turned into a tour guide. “On your left is the Atlantic Ocean. On your right….”

Sellers want to know why their paisley wallpaper, hung by Ozzie and Harriet with the help of Ward and June Cleaver, no longer attracts top dollar. No matter what you show or tell them, they will find something on the Internet to state otherwise. Ah, did I mention the information age is a wonderful thing?

Evening. After you have toured the entire county and shown hundreds of homes, you have earned time away from the office for good behavior. You proudly invite those you have just driven around the island a dozen times to dinner—your treat. Once someone hears they are being treated on another’s expense account, their family suddenly multiplies faster than the national debt, in a _____(“R”-word). Before you know it, the entire restaurant is full of your clients and their family. It resembles something of a medieval festival, all on your tab. The thought of slipping out the back door while the talk of square footage, paint color, offer price, etc. doesn’t even enter your mind, because you have to stay to make sure everyone’s happy. Perish the thought you should lose a client in today’s _____(“R”-word). Besides sleep is overrated, and the office recliner/Serta is not feeling as good as it once did.

Night. Back to the office for endless hours of research and understanding how you got into this mess. Was it the banks, Fannie & Freddie (I always thought they were the couple who lived at the end of the cul de sac), securitized mortgages or Barney Frank? No need to set the alarm clock, because you never go to sleep. Because you are spending so much time together, your trusted computer has become your new best friend. Ah, the information age. Did I say it was a wonderful thing?

Amid all the craziness of the day, you did slip a contract into the fray, and negotiations did take place. For some of the lucky few, financing, home inspection, change in attitude, etc. did not foil the day (O’Brien must have been on vacation that week), and the deal was complete. Your buyers/sellers are now into their new home or have sold their old home and are moving on to the next chapter of their life. Soon after the closing, and unbeknownst to you, a metamorphosis has occurred. You have gone from an agent whose professional opinion was passed over for the latest real estate update on CNN (even though all markets are local, Hilton Head in particular) to the greatest, most knowledgeable person in the world. Your clients let you know that, due to your endless work ethic and valuable information, they are happier than they have been in 20 years. They now like you so much and have so much belief in you that they would like to know if you would be interested in marrying their daughter, fathering their grandchildren and taking their house after they pass on. That would mean you progress from the know-nothing agent to the expert real estate owner. But that is a story for another time.

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9 Real Estate ESSENTIALS!

1. PHONE
Blackberry holding the contact information for hundreds of clients. Additional information may include any or all of the following: Client’s children’s names, names of family pets, political and religious views, occupation and favorite local restaurant.

2. FOR SALE SIGN
But of course!

3. INFO TUBE
Holds an abundance of sales flyers and may be found on the mailbox of the house that is for sale. Flyers are pretty much guaranteed to run our at 8am on a Sunday morning, requiring you to get out of bed early.

4. SHOES
Comfortable (yet stylish!) shoes for showing houses all day/evening.

5. LOCK BOXES
Lock box to one of the 3,523 homes or villas FOR SALE in this area right now!

6. MAGAZINES
Keeping up with the competition. Good reading!

7. MAP
Not that you need one, because I’m here to escort you around!

8. SMILE
Genuine smile!

9. CAMERA
For taking photographs of new listings!

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