I’m waiting to present to a bunch of real estate agents in New Jersey – my one last hope – but after a lot of consideration I’ve decided to get my license in New York. To say that I’m plagued with doubt would be an understatement. In five months, I haven’t generated any real estate activity whatsoever – so I’m going to throw good money after bad?
The positive case, the one I talk myself into, is that straight selling is probably easier than flipping because some of the properties start out in good shape in the first place. In a sense, I already know the New York City, especially Manhattan, inventory – I’ve written about it for two years. But most importantly, if I’m going to have to rely on my “warm market” (a phrase I’ve always translated as “the kindness of my friends”), I’m going to have to be in New York.
Compared to Jersey, New York classes are a joke. Salesperson licensure comes after 45 hours, not 75. The classes themselves are jammed, with newcomers inhaling to try to squeeze into non-aisles between broken desks. The instructors avoid answering tough questions (such as “do I need to be at one of the big firms to have good co-op comps, or will the smaller shared listings services have them?”). The low point is when one particular long-winded instructor, whose diatribe against rent control we’ve already been forced to endure, tells us that UFOs are real because his daughter saw one.
On the other hand, there are some high points. Some of the instructors make us role play, which does zero for our exam skills but is incredibly helpful as far as career prep. Bill Plunkett, in particular, makes sure we can talk to a customer about a listing, weed out browsers from buyers, and spot traps where we’d be tempted to practice law.
But in general, the class’s fluidity hurts us. In Jersey, we were there at the same time every day — Steve (ends up at Coldwell Banker) third desk back on the right, Sue (ends up at Burgdorf ERA) first desk on the left. Here, I try to meet my fellow students – I know they’ll be an asset when they’re at Elliman and I’m wherever – but it’s tough to network with people I see in just one three-hour session. I feel like I’m picking people up in a bar, most of whom don’t know they’re there to be picked up.
There’s one woman I focus on to meet, basically because she’s the wealthiest woman in class. (Money can’t buy happiness, but it can buy shoes.) It turns out she has run a major non-profit, which she’s surprised I’ve heard of. And she’s not exactly flattered, more a little freaked, when she tells me where she’s interviewing and I offer to drop a word to the CEO. Which I do, later, sending a quick e-mail. That’s somewhat uncharacteristic for me. I don’t often follow up on my good intentions; I’m more often Our Lady of the Intended Thank You Note. But I figure this one’s for karma.
Will I ever do a deal on Park Avenue with good-shoe woman? I don’t know. But I figure I’ve spent so many months not knowing anything, it doesn’t hurt to place bets all over the table. Only the future will show me where my self-interest lies.