Even though I can proudly say that I have been showing property since I was 5, I must admit that in my 20s I was not the most confident real estate agent. Some of my prepubescent bravado shrunk as I faced real-life scenarios.
My insecurities certainly came through when dealing with new clients — I’ll never forget pitting out my silk blouse when writing up an offer for a vacationing real estate attorney. Yikes. I read the entire contract to him word by word, and suggested he seek professional legal counsel should he have any further questions.
Then I turned 30. Somehow that simple number encouraged me that I could realistically help other adults write contracts and complete transactions. What a relief. Maybe I still looked 17, but I was an adult!
However, nothing — nothing — has been as good for my business as becoming a mother. Getting pregnant enabled me to make positive changes in my business practices.
The first change I recognized happened right around the 20-week mark. Two things happened at the same time:
1. I saw my baby on the sonogram machine for the first time; and
2. A very angry buyer decided to read me the riot act after being outbid in a short-sale purchase.
The old Alisha might have groveled at the conference room table, being so-so-so sorry. The new mother-to-be Alisha told the truth, "Your offer was $60,000 under asking price, sir. As I said when we wrote it up, you were in a multiple-offer situation and they specifically asked you for your highest and best. Someone wanted that house more than you."
My then-yet-unborn child cheered me on from the inside as I consciously remembered that life was much bigger than that small meeting room and I could speak the truth in kindness and confidence.
Pregnancy also gave me permission to put myself first. After all, I had doctor’s orders to eat healthy, exercise and get enough sleep — three totally adverse concepts to a successful career in real estate, right?
Sure, we own our own schedules. All we need to decide is which 18 hours we’d like to work each day. And eating tends to be a sidebar. Candy, vending machine meals and drive-thrus are staples for real estate professionals. You can do anything as long as it can be accomplished on the run.
But now I had a reason to be reasonable. I found myself setting the schedule for the day around what worked for me. And lo and behold, people were not only receptive to the idea, but appreciated the clear communication of availability.
In order to work more efficiently, I also uploaded files that I might need at any time to Google Docs. I could e-mail contracts, look up contract clauses, and send mortgage broker references from my smart phone.
I also unabashedly asked for help from our transaction coordinator, and advice from more experienced brokers. Lastly, I made good friends with a favorite escrow officer — which not only made my closings more enjoyable, but also led to laser tag, pizza and tailgating.
These simple changes in my business practices made quite a difference. Instead of working part time, as I had only assumed would happen when I cut down on my hours, I was shocked to find myself busier than ever.
Some folks in my office joked that instead of taking a vacation, Alisha needed only to get pregnant to get busy.
So there you are, new agents. If you want to jump-start your 2011, have a baby. Or pretend to. Either way, remember that life is much bigger than real estate, take care of yourself, and use the available tools that make business easier.
I know that sounds trite, but I’m one naysayer who has changed her tune. And my newborn "Little Braatz" is going to make a great associate business partner.
Alisha Alway Braatz is a buyer’s broker for Coldwell Banker Advantage One Properties in Eugene, Ore.
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