I’ve only been in real estate for six months and I still haven’t closed a deal, but I’m learning a little more every week.
Not all of the lessons are good. One is that serious buyers are outnumbered by lookie-loos and downright weirdos by a margin of about 3-to-1. Another is that while some veteran agents will do everything they can to help a rookie Realtor get started, others seemingly go out of their way to make a newcomer’s job more difficult.
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First, about buyers: I’ve heard that some are very bright and ready to do anything they can to purchase a home. But almost all the buyers I have dealt with so far have had such unrealistic expectations that they shouldn’t waste their time (not to mention the time of a Realtor) even looking at houses or condos.
Shortly after I got my real estate license last fall, I spent six straight weekends showing property to a young couple who wanted to buy their first home. They had been pre-approved for a fairly good-sized loan, so we focused on properties in their price range.
We viewed more than 50 houses and also a few condos, but nothing would please them. We started looking at homes that were in good shape, but each was deemed too small for their taste.
“I’m not going to pay this kind of money for a shoebox like that,” the husband would say.
After a few weeks, we started looking at larger homes that were still in their price range but needed some repairs. That didn’t work either.
“I’m not going to pay this kind of money for a rat-trap like that,” the wife complained.
In January, I finally took the problem to my broker for his advice. He asked if I had prequalified the couple for a loan, and I said yes. Then he asked if I had given them a list that showed what properties in the same area had recently sold for, so they’d know that the homes I had been showing them weren’t overpriced. Again I said yes.
“Well, then, you should cut ’em loose,” my broker said. “Trust me–you could spend the next six months driving these people around from house to house, but they still won’t find anything they like. Don’t waste anymore time with them.”
My heart sank when he told me that because I really wanted to make my first sale and had already invested about 100 hours of my time finding properties for the couple on the MLS, then showing them the homes that I thought they might like to buy.
But my broker is my boss and he has a lot more experience than I have, so I followed his orders by politely telling the couple they should find a different Realtor who might bring them better luck in finding a home.
Turns out, the advice my broker gave me was good. Last Sunday, I bumped into the couple at another open house. They’re still looking for a home almost four months after I began working with them, and they even introduced me to their new agent–a part-time college student who got his license only three weeks ago.
While my broker’s a great guy, some of my fellow agents are definitely not.
Most of my co-workers will help me any way they can. They’ll give me marketing advice, tell me where I can find the cheapest place to print flyers, or take my place covering the phones if I have to rush out to show a property to a prospective buyer.
Some of our office’s most successful agents, however, are first-degree jerks. One top-seller said I was “stupid” to ask her to answer the office phones for a few minutes while I went to the bathroom, apparently because I didn’t notice that she was putting on her makeup to meet with a new client.
Another refused to give me the name of the photographer who took the picture that’s on his business cards, but instead threw the telephone directory on my desk and told me to “look under ‘P-H-O-T-O-G-R-A-F-F-E-R.'”
Too bad they don’t make agents take continuing education courses in teamwork–or spelling.
Got tips, ideas or advice for the Rookie Realtor? Send them to Rookie@inman.com.
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