I just got a $6,000 commission — for a rental.
Wait, it gets better: I found her on the Internet.
She posted on some message boards I frequent, explaining that she was relocating, wanted to know about neighborhoods, and was looking for “an awesome broker.” That alone differentiated her from the mainstream of Internet chat that I usually read — most posters want advice about how to kill their brokers, or how to stiff their brokers, not information on how to actually hook up with one.
So I made the big leap and wrote her and explained I was an awesome broker. That, in itself, I would not have been able to do with any conviction six months ago. But now, I’ve sold a house, I’ve rented to celeb kids, I’m progressing to my first seven-figure deal — that’s pretty awesome.
Another thing that helped was that this isn’t an anonymous board, but it’s a place where other users can look up all your posts. So, not just because it was checkable but maybe keeping that in mind, I’ve tried hard to be a good citizen. I give advice to first-timers about contracts and co-op boards, and I’ve gone out of my way to help every student on the relocation thread get settled in. I don’t know if she did bother to check my record, but it’s stellar — I look like Dear Abby.
This in contrast to many brokers who show up, beat their chests, find an excuse to post their latest listings, and then leave when they get no response. “Hey, I’m with the #4 team at BIG BROKERAGE” is a credential that has its place, but that place is in advertising, not on chat boards.
So anyway, this Web client and I had very tentative e-mail exchanges at first, because she wanted to make sure I was trustworthy, and I wanted to make sure she was rich. Not crazy, fleeceable rich, but there are always stories circulating about people who pretend to be high-end clients, talk a good game while they’re being driven around to fancy listings, and then fizzle out.
Finally, she decided to believe me and I decided to believe her. She knew nothing of New York, so I ended up hand-drawing little maps of where things were and faxing them to her. (Is there a better way? In N.J., the MLS does this for you, but in New York there’s nothing comparable, and Google Earth terrifies me.)
For example, when I made five hotel recommendations, I drew up where they were, so she’d be oriented.
The minute she and her husband flew in, I bought them lunch. In for a dime, in for a hundred dollars, I thought to myself. Most people are honest and you simply have to trust them.
And they were so reassuringly not from New York. Not mean, not jaded. Willing to look at real estate to see what features it had, not what snob appeal it didn’t.
She had asked for outdoor space. We saw six or seven listings and she picked the one … with the nicest outdoor space. It’s not that there were no hitches, because the landlord was overseas so I had to chase paper through the other broker and the property manager to the owner, and talk to the contractor about repairs and customization. That took nearly a month, a nail-biting month during which I kept thinking, I can’t stand not being in contract, they’re going to rent it to someone else.
But they didn’t, and I made what I would have made on a small sale, all with a much faster cycle. I could get used to this kind of transaction.
Unfortunately, I don’t think they come around on the Web all that often. (I certainly have found the boards lately to be back to their baseline “hate broker, kill broker” stuff). She did refer me to her husband’s business partner and his wife, so if I land that that’s another fast-cycle transaction under my belt, plus the niceness of the non-New York clients as a bonus.
Maybe I should spend my advertising dollars in other cities.