So I’m beginning to suspect that something is not right.

Maybe it’s the fact that I’m getting no floor time and little training, or the fact that when I asked to meet real estate attorneys so I could network, I was handed the Yellow Pages.

My freelance business is building, slowly, so I’m slowing the bleeding of cash, but it’s still negative. I know this because I faithfully do my accounts twice a month. It’s bad but I’m on top of it.

One thing that worries me, too, is my own impulsiveness. I know when a deal won’t make. I mean, instantly. I see a house, I hear the price, I think “whoa, no way.”

But then I go through all the motions of offer/inspection/haggling because I think I’m supposed to.

So I decide to run back home, figuratively. I knew a lot of real estate CEOs in New York, and while many of them aren’t giving me marketing work (ahem!), I can still get one or two to sit down with me.

So that’s what I do, invite a CEO to lunch. We go to a midtown sushi place that we have always hung out in – somehow its Imperial Tea Garden atmosphere has always put business problems in perspective.

So I tell him that I still haven’t found a house. That I’m beginning to think that perhaps my partners are not all that, but I’m not sure. It’s a tale of woe, but I get it out. And he thinks I’m crazy.

“You’re doing all this work to find a house where you’ll make ten or twenty thousand,” he says. “I don’t do a deal unless I’m pretty sure I can make a hundred thousand from it. And in this market, I’m only finding one of those a year.

“You should sell,” he continued. “You’d make more money if you sold in the City.”

This is the beginning of an idea that continued to take root later – I went to Jersey because I liked the market, and I liked its value proposition, but New York is where I have my network. Since then, more than one salesperson has suggested that the key to selling ice to Eskimos is knowing the Eskimos.

“Look at it this way,” he says. “If you flip the house you have to sell it anyway. But you’re doing all this work first to start with desirable inventory. Why not just skip that step and go straight to selling the desirable inventory?”

I’m still not sure I believe him, but maybe he has a point. I vow to sleep on it. Then I ask him for the names and numbers of a couple of contacts. His wife, who I’ve met before, is an attorney for a mortgage lender, so I ask if can call her with a couple of questions about the mortgage business.

And he suggests confronting my partners. “You need to have a come-to-Jesus meeting where you put all your cards on the table. Sometimes to get an answer you have to punch somebody in the face.”

I must have winced or something – confrontation’s not one of my strong suits – and he gave me a reassuring look.

“You may not hear what you want to hear,” he said, “but at least you’ll know where you stand.”


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