I have barely just shaken off the flour from Thanksgiving baking, and here it is time for Christmas already.
There ought to be some sort of break in between, especially for Realtors who have to gear up right after that for spring selling season. I know one real estate guy who jokes that spring starts during halftime of the Super Bowl.
Of course this year we hope it’s true that the optimism of a New Year and a new presidency will melt some formerly frozen markets. In the meantime, though, we’ve got holidays to get through and that means remembering our clients (and potential clients) as well as our friends and loved ones.
It’s a nice time to say thank you to others, too. I just got a rental referral from California, so of course when the deal was closed the referring Realtor was paid. But she wasn’t paid much, and I wanted to thank her for thinking of me, so I flew a pound of pastrami from one coast to the other.
The shipping charges were more than the meat — and I feel so guilty about my carbon footprint that all my other gifts have to be super-green — but it was worth it because she was so touched that I went through the "What can they not get in L.A.?" thought exercise.
My recent buyer client, who is moving into a place with a wine refrigerator, got three reds, three whites and a bottle of champagne. It’s a nice start for her "collection" — and I threw in little extra touches like a menu from the fantastic local pizza place to go with the Chianti.
That was easy, though, because there was a closing and there was money to spend. Harder are the gifts for the not-quite-clients — people you want to remember you but who you don’t want to run up the credit card on.
For some people the answer must be coffee because the last time I was in Starbucks I was behind a guy buying eight separate five-dollar gift cards.
I think books work well here too, if you know someone’s taste well enough to be able to give them the perfect paperback. Cookies are great if you bake, and if they’re too complicated you can make spiced mixed nuts like my friend Jo does. She swears they’re easy, and I have to say it’s one of the things I most look forward to every year.
And of course the season brings volunteering opportunities. (Not that they weren’t there the other 11 months of the year, but it’s a good time to think of helping others.) This can include "old standbys" — you are involved with your clients’ charities, right? But the Internet has also added some new twists.
At Volunteermatch.org, for instance, you can sort opportunities by geographic location and keyword. Put in "Illinois" and "real estate" and you get opportunities from scouting homes that Habitat for Humanity can rehab to being a board member for a YMCA that needs someone who understands real estate development. Both sound like great ways for a Realtor to be helpful, and a nice change from stuffing envelopes.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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