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Thursday, October 11, 2012

The Life of a Realtor, Part 2

So, a while ago I wrote Part 1 about the life of  Realtor.  Time to write the sequel....

I had a good, steady job before I decided to get into real estate (read Rich Dad, Poor Dad if you want some insight on this).  But, for some reason,  real estate always intrigued me.  However, I come from a long line of "play-it-safers" when it comes to career choices and the like.  When I told my parents I was going to go into real estate back in 1995 they were a bit concerned.  My degree had nothing to do with anything even remotely related to real estate (at least it didn't appear that it did) and all my family saw was "risk."  Frankly, I wasn't too sure myself.  I've never been a huge risk-taker, either.  And diving into something that I had no experience in and working for 100% commission was, I admit, a bit scary.  Not only that, but the company I went to work for was brand new and neither the company, nor I, had much of a data base or a "circle of friends and family" to work with. But off I went, with my license and the kind of optimism that risk-takers have been known for.

They say police work is "hours of  absolute boredom punctuated by a few moments of sheer terror."  Real estate is kind-of like that.  I spend a lot of time just managing things, doing the day-to-day mundane things and then all of the sudden I get a call or an e-mail from a prospective home buyer.  Or one of my clients decides to make an offer on a home.  Granted, I'm not actually "terrified" of this kind of activity, but it does get things moving on an otherwise routine day.  And then, somebody wants to see a house, another client wants to make an offer, and a new prospect want to meet with me...all on the same day at the same time.  That's when things start getting exciting.  "Time management" takes on an entirely new meaning at that point.

I mentioned in Part 1 that Realtors have to wear a lot of hats.  I work with several clients at any given time.  It's important that I keep my documentation with my clients physically separate, but I also have to keep my clients separated mentally and emotionally from other things that are going on.  What do I mean by that?  Well, mentally, I sometimes get a conversation confused between clients.  And they'll hear me say "Oh, wait, that was my other client...."  Myself and my clients often have the same discussions and I can't always remember who I had that last discussion with.  I also have certain things that always come up when viewing houses but I sometimes forget if "WE saw that one house that had that thing" or if that was another client I was with....and "did I already tell you about radon, stucco issues, polybutylene plumbing, how to brace a foundation, how to treat for termites, roof venting issues" etc., etc., etc.  There is a vast amount of information that I'm required to learn and retain in order to be effective as an advocate. It takes time and energy just to remember what I've said and/or didn't say sometimes.  I do my best to treat all of my clients and individuals but I have a lot of conversations and know a lot of people.  That's what it's like to be in this business for so many years.

One other thing that presents a very serious challenge in my profession is what I call "switching gears," meaning, going from one conversation or event to another completely different conversation or event within minutes and trying to leave the first event in lieu of the second.  What exactly do I mean by this?  For example, sometimes negotiations can get very heated, even between myself and my own clients (which should never happen, but it does).  Psychologically, it's difficult to just "drop" something that's extremely urgent, important, and may be really weighing on one's soul.  But since I have back-to-back appointments sometimes I have no choice.  So a negotiation blows up and I have to head out to show houses.  Time to "switch gears" and leave that event behind so that I can focus on doing the job for my other clients, which means concentrating on showing them houses and answering their questions and focusing on their needs, not mine or my other client's.  Easier said than done sometimes, but I've learned to deal with this over the years.  Most of my clients never even know what goes on with my other clients...unless I share something out of frustration.  But normally I just go on my merry way...until I have to go back and try to resolve whatever happened earlier.  It's trying at times but also can be rewarding.

Being my own boss has given me a measure of flexibility.  Even though that's true, I tell my clients that I'm available "most of the time," meaning just about any time of the day or evening, seven days a week.  Sometimes I wonder if I should set boundaries because I know from experience that if I don't, even well-meaning clients will unknowingly take advantage of me.  I don't set a lot of boundaries because I want to be there for my clients.  However, that sometimes gets me in trouble. My wife doesn't understand why I come home from work sometimes and get right back on my laptop and go back to work!  And why I take calls and read texts at dinner, during birthday parties, during wedding receptions, during concerts, and even during church! (ringer off, of course)  I had a client call me once while I was at an OSU game.  I called him back and he said "I can't hear you very well" and I said "that's because I'm sitting in the stadium watching a football game." (halftime)  So he pauses, and says, "Oh, does that mean you can't show us a house?"  Yeah, that's pretty much what it meant.  Granted, most of my clients are nothing like that.  But my clients do want their needs met and they expect me to do that.  What's interesting is how my clients sometimes define "urgent" and how I define it.  Sometimes, honestly, it really can wait until morning.  I've had to tell clients, "Well, not much we can do tonight, so let's just pick this up in the morning."  At 10:00 p.m. on any given night there isn't much I can do if a deal is in danger of falling apart. Yet sometimes somebody will want me to try.  Every one of my clients thinks what they need is important, and it is.  But sometimes what this client wants/needs is more important than what another client wants/needs right now. Try explaining that to the second client.  :)

Every job and profession comes with it's own set of challenges, no doubt.  I just wanted to share some of what it's like to do what I do for a living.  I'm sure there is more....maybe I'll do a part 3.  One other thing that I've noticed about my profession over the years is that there are so many different types of people, with various backgrounds and education, that are in real estate. What's great is that this industry has room for me.  I surely can't complain about that!