The real estate school I attended last summer held a reunion recently to mark the one-year anniversary of our class’s graduation. Twenty-one of my 37 former classmates showed up.
As it turned out, the event was just a ruse to get us to sign-up for the continuing-education courses we need to keep our licenses intact: The “reunion party” basically consisted of two surly waiters who toted around platters of cold cocktail weenies and an occasional visit from a hostess, whose greasy tuxedo was several years older than the wine that she served in plastic cups.
Fortunately, I didn’t go to my real estate class reunion with the expectation of getting a good meal. I simply wanted to “catch-up” with my old friends, and perhaps trade some stories or advice that will help me as I start my second year in the sales business.
Aw, shoot, who am I trying to kid? The real reason I went to the class’s get-together was to see which of my former classmates are doing better than me, which ones are struggling, and which ones have become total washouts.
That’s why most people go to reunions anyway, isn’t it?
The good news is, all but three of the 21 new agents who came to the reunion have already made at least one sale. I’ve made two, which seemed to be about the average.
The best performance was recorded by a guy whom I’ll call “Alan.” He has already closed seven deals, although he almost sheepishly admitted that two of his transactions involved his parents and two more involved his cousins.
I told him that he’s got nothing to be embarrassed about. What would really be embarrassing would be if his own folks had decided to buy or sell, but chose a different agent to handle the transaction.
Which, ironically, is exactly what happened to my friend Frankie.
Frankie’s mom is a fairly well-known local investor. She probably buys and sells seven or eight properties a year.
When we were in real estate school together last year, Frankie told me that he figured that his mom would become his biggest client.
He was wrong. His mother hasn’t hired him to handle a single transaction, choosing instead to stick with the same Realtor that she has used for the last several years.
Frankie is pretty bitter about the whole situation, and says he’s so angry that he hasn’t talked to his mother since July.
I can’t blame him for being mad, or at least disappointed.
But on the other hand, I can’t blame his mom for keeping the same agent who has helped her build a real estate portfolio that’s probably now worth more than $3 million.
When it comes to the real estate business, that old “blood-is-thicker-than-water” rule doesn’t always apply.
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Still, like most of the chatter at every other reunion that I’ve been to–whether it’s for my high school, college alma mater, or even the church I attended before it was turned into a strip mall about 10 years ago–the focus of the conversations inevitably drifted toward the graduates who weren’t there, rather than those who were.
I learned that “Jaynee,” whom everyone in our real estate class assumed would quickly become a top-producer, dropped out of the business after failing to close a deal in her first six months. She’s now selling weight-loss products over the Internet, and apparently is making a pretty good living at it.
Another classmate, Nancy, got pregnant shortly after she graduated last year but plans to jump into the real estate business full-time as soon as she can arrange decent day-care for her infant.
June, a single mom, is trying to sell homes on weekends. Monday through Friday, she manages a local restaurant: It’s not a great job, but it at least provides medical benefits for herself and her three kids.
Robert, who I always figured was the smartest person in our class, has already become the vice president of a local lending firm and is planning to get a full-blown broker’s license.
Paul took a bride, and Donna took a divorce. Kenny took a job at the Post Office in May.
James took his life in August, after learning that he had contracted AIDS.
I wish I could end this story with some sort of upbeat message, or at least one of those pithy little “what-I’ve-learned” paragraphs that editors seem to like so much.
But the truth is, I’m not really sure what I learned by going to my real estate school’s reunion.
Perhaps I’ll figure it out by this same time next year, when I go to my second one.
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