Even my darling husband points out I have my flaws. Most of them involve my desire to throw away all his stuff, but one or two actually spill over into real estate.
One of my larger flaws as an agent is that I don’t understand that not everyone wants what I want — specifically, to live in Manhattan.
Like so many kids from flyover states, I fought and clawed my way here, and I can’t imagine living anywhere else. Sure it’s noisy, crowded and dirty, but you’ll have to take me out of here in a pine box (which might actually be larger than my living room).
Just when I thought I had this problem under control, my celebrity client’s little sister showed up and said she wanted a rental, I thought, “aha, Manhattan.”
Was I not listening when she said she lived in Brooklyn now? No, I was not.
It wasn’t just narcissism; there was also an element of being a control freak. I like to work my magic where my powers lie, and my ability to conjure up anything cool across the East River is limited.
So I just blew a week and a half, thinking “Manhattan.” It’s not the end of the world; this client and I have got time. And I managed to push her budget up from $1,300 to $1,900, which will save me from dealing with some dreck later on.
But I still feel badly that I didn’t get it in three; I should have been able to show her three apartments and have her sign a lease on one. Some of my problem came from listening to the budget constraint. For those of you who don’t live here, be aware there’s not a whole lot goin’ on under $3,000. Still, she’s determined to live on her talent, not her parents’, and ya gotta admire that.
To deal with cheap, I served up a) small b) ugly and c) odd locations.
Not all at the same time, of course, but every time we saw something funky I realized my client wants to see beauty. Ye Olde Brownstone-mahogany paneling-and Tiffany lamps-beauty, preferably without the dicey street-scene that can accompany that in Harlem.
I feel like if I were a more experienced salesperson, I would have picked this up the easy way, by listening, and not the hard way, by watching the shudders when she saw dark apartments, cruddy blocks, and — my favorite — the one-bedroom with purple-and-red paint. (It would have been like living under the Big Top.)
There are Brooklyn neighborhoods full of Victorian beauty, but I have avoided thinking about them because they’re not on my computer system and many of the agents won’t co-operate with me. There are some big firms that will, but to balance the co-broke, they’re overpriced. I guess it’s natural to shy away from selling where you know there might not be inventory, but it feels cowardly too. I already hate rentals because I’m never sure what they’re gonna look like, and I see the avoidance of unfamiliar territory and the dislike of rentals as twin parts of my neurosis: if I can’t control it, I don’t want to deal with it.
So I’ve decided to go on the attack, even if it means doing two things that seem kinda infra dig. One, I plan to go walk around one Brooklyn neighborhood tomorrow and hang “apartment wanted” signs on some lampposts (maybe I’ll flush out an owner that way); and two, I’ll show her exactly the apartment she wants, even though it’s out of the price range I’ve already bumped up.
My sponsoring broker is a big fan of this strategy; he’s said it before: “show them everything they want, then tell them what it costs. Otherwise, they won’t see what they want, and they’ll think it’s not them, it’s you.”
Maybe that’ll work. I’m lining up the perfect gorgeous apartment and a wonderful-looking, cheaper backup, plus whatever else I can rustle up by walking the neighborhood and hustling every storefront real estate broker.
Hopefully I’ll get it in five.