I closed my first deal last week, a rental. In New York City, rentals are for newbies, since you can make so much more doing sales, but they are also prized for their quick payout. A typical rental fee is 15 percent of a year’s rental, split between the listing agent and the agent who brings in the tenant. My firm takes the majority of our split (in their defense, the splits are better on sales) but on a “starter” Manhattan apartment an agent is still looking at pocketing $900.
So when I got a call on my cell phone from a potential renter, I did what we’ve been exhorted to at Real Estate Connect: I responded instantly. She’d been recommended to me by my first renter, so I was thrilled that word-of-mouth was starting, and determined to execute this one perfectly. No sophomore slump for me. I wanted it to be like that old shampoo commercial: “you tell two friends, and they tell two friends.”
Only one problem: I was in San Francisco. This would make it really tough to work with my client because I’d have to set up appointments for her to see places without me, which makes me nervous in all sorts of ways. What if she doesn’t see what I would see and accidentally rents an apartment on top of a nuclear waste plant? That was actually the first thing that came to mind, but all the other scenarios were pretty dire too.
The next problem was that in order to show her apartments I needed access to our central database — the firm equivalent of the MLS — and that meant I needed a computer.
Those of you who were at the conference know what happens when 100 monkeys, sorry, I mean Realtors, all try to share the same slice of wireless Internet bandwidth. I had lunch with a Silicon Valley friend of mine and explained the problem.
“Yeah, when too many people pull on the network it doesn’t work for anybody,” he observed. “I remember once going to a lawyer’s conference on the beach and we pretty much brought the information infrastructure of Maui to its knees.”
Humorous, but not helpful. I finally decided to pay the robbers at the hotel 54 cents a minute for the privilege of a somewhat quick response. Thirty dollars of computer time later, I had three apartments.
I wrote my new client an e-mail…in the possibly overly frank style that I’m starting to do business in. “I like this one, the views will be beautiful, but it’s near the hospital and might be loud” . . . that sort of thing.
I then pounded my cell phone to try to grab some appointments. Calling my client once again, I realized the time difference: 4 p.m. here is 7 p.m. there, and she thinks I’m crazy. Don’t want to be overly intrusive either.
So I ran to Kinko’s (for slightly less high-priced computer time) and did some more database searching. Along the way, I did a static Web post for my first renter clients, essentially putting on my Web site a list of move-in shops near their home: here’s where you get groceries, here’s where you get coffee, here’s where you get towels. That will make them feel loved, or at least cosseted, and I can replicate the post every few months for new clients.
Now all I have to do is to wake up at six, confirm some appointments for my newest prospect, and start her off on her day. Busy enough, for tomorrow.