Somebody say yes, already!

I have a line on two houses, but no answers. Meanwhile, I have explained my rehab-y existence to community leaders and mortgage bankers. I have pitched my home-ownership/personal finance expertise to every publication I can think of, from giveaway weeklies to big-shot magazines. If real estate execs float into my general vicinity, I explain to them that I’m happy to write their Web sites.

I have moused so much my arm hurts. If you’re going to the Inman News Real Estate Connect conference in New York next week, I’ve probably pitched you.

And you should say yes, already, because the waiting is driving me crazy.

There’s a myth that salespeople take rejection well. I don’t think that’s true; I certainly don’t think they enjoy it. It’s more like salespeople see rejection as a natural part of their day, and get over it rather than getting buried by it. Similarly, when you’re a reporter, people hang up the phone in your ear a lot, and you pick up the phone again anyway. You have to.

But when you’re on your own dime, there’s an extra impatience factor that’s tough to get around. I have freelance work booked for late January, but I can’t move it forward to today. Today, I am simply rearranging the paper clips on the coffee table and starving to death.

Some of the trouble is that this isn’t what I imagined I’d be doing at this stage of the game. I had thought lead generation would be easier by now. My partners nixed the idea of “we buy houses” signs, which is one way my competitors bring in business. And I’d thought that my partners would introduce me around in a way that they haven’t, or can’t, or won’t. So I’m in unfamiliar territory, still learning the names of the streets, and I have to figure out a way to meet every cop and clerk in town. My mom ran for elected office several times, so I’m a second-generation glad-hander, but it’s still tough to call someone totally out of the blue, totally cold.

At least telemarketers make six bucks an hour.

The other half of the trouble is that I don’t quite fit the model of a new real estate agent. Baby agents are told to start mining their “sphere of influence” – their neighbors, their cousins, the dry-cleaner on the corner. But I started a business because I believed in a market and a demographic that I’m not part of – and sometimes I feel very, very far from home.

The third half of the problem (this is what it feels like, honestly) is that nobody will quite say “no” to me. What I get instead are clients who overcommit and then retract – like the Wall Street guys who wanted me to work on their Web site, told me their budget was $2,000 a month, and then balked the day I billed them $750. That $1,250 a month of my time I thought was booked has to be resold, and that means – you got it – more pitching.

I have taken to calling my husband during the day simply to leave him activity reports: “I called Jeanine’s cousin the real estate lawyer,” or even “I’m going to the gym.” These updates are not for his benefit but for mine: Since I don’t have achievements, I feel like I’m not really here – like a vampire character that can’t see his reflection in a mirror. At least if I call out what I’m doing, it feels real – someone else can see me.

Maybe a breakthrough is just around the corner. Maybe 20 calls will turn into a column and a seminar and the purchase of a rehab-able house. But it better happen soon, because I feel like I’m vanishing.


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