Four months into my real estate gig and things are NOT working as I’d hoped. I still have no contracts with my flipping partners; worse, I have no connections. I had been told I would meet the mayor of East Orange, N.J., “before the end of the year” – and that time has come and gone.

One of the partners in the venture had asked me to write down exactly what it is I needed. I’m good at writing stuff down, so I came up with a cover letter and four action points. I pled “I cannot succeed with you all being solely a source of passive capital — if that was all I needed, I would have stayed in New York, where my friends and contacts are.” I’ll spare you most of the fine print, but here’s what I thought I needed:

A speaking venue: I still think this would be a great way to serve an underserved community – to offer an actual information seminar at a library, say. And I have the resume for it – I’ve spoken at the Javits Center, for heaven’s sake. (For those of you who aren’t from New York, that’s a convention center with 20,000 attendees; I pulled a few hundred.) I called city officials and I called pastors; I called New Jersey nonprofit financial educators; I called local newspaper reporters and publishers; and yep, I called the library. But nobody in Jersey seemed to want to give me a shot. So I asked my partners for help.

The response I got on this one: “that’s long-term.”

Time shadowing a more experienced agent: This I got, right after I asked for it, and it was fabulous. (I wrote about it a few weeks ago in “Newbie shadows a senior broker“). Half the people I talk to say it was remarkably generous of a senior agent to share his mentoring and trade secrets; the other half say it’s par for the course for their firms.

A couple of starter listings: I knew that asking for this would be perceived as throwing down the gauntlet (and indeed, it was), but it’s a basic question I have about real estate firms: what happens to the leads that come in through the Web? They never ended up on my desk – and I’ve been led to believe, talking to agents in New York, that they never will. But it does seem that if a firm wanted to incubate or support an agent, that would be the mechanism. My appeal for these was plaintive: “Traditionally, agents get these through floor time, which I’ve been told not to do.”

The unofficial response I got on this one: Those choice Internet leads? A) There aren’t as many of them as the firms would have you think; and B) They’re given as rewards to agents who are already producing. Milk is given to the teenagers, not the toddlers.

Introductions to attorneys and insurance adjusters: I had already tried, as a step on this flipping path, to do cold letters to builders. It hadn’t worked for me; I hear Coldwell Banker has been starting to pursue the same strategy, and I wish them more success. And I started, on the advice of a Philly flipper, to do cold letters to insurance adjusters, and they weren’t pulling either. And I thought, wouldn’t it be nice to meet people who work in this industry?

So I asked for it.

And in the movie in my head, this is the scene that keeps repeating: I ask a guy who’s been in the real estate business for 50 years to introduce me to local real estate attorneys, and he hands me a phone book. And I’m thinking, I left my job for this.

One more thing was offered me – not one of the points I had directly prioritized, but it’s clear that that’s the nature of this relationship. I was offered a chance to speak to the firm’s agents. And I jumped at it, scheduling two speaking dates, one at my home office and one at a branch office. “The branch office will be the key,” said a friend I’d made at the firm. “If this is going to work, it’s those agents who will help you.”

Of course you have to tune in next week to see whether they did.

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