I have been working my butt off. I’m not sure why I feel compelled to share that with you, right now: perhaps it’s a warning to my editor that she’d better wield the pencil more deftly than usual. Or maybe it’s because I don’t have great results to boast about right now, so I feel like I’d better talk about process.

It has been nine months since my first deal. I went back and read the columns from that period (there is some advantage to being an online diarist, you can check up on yourself) and I am doing better now in almost every way. I know my business, and I feel confident about it, and I am starting to grow my circle of referrals.

But I also just lost my first renter. I’ve had clients flake before — lots and lots of buyer clients, notably the couple who were going to spend five million and then didn’t — but the thing about potential purchasers is that they don’t have to buy. Renters, they have to find something, or no roof.

This client was a referral, and she kept going in and out of town. She didn’t always return my e-mails; I knew she was working with other brokers. Still, I wanted to land her for the prestige of it (not to mention the check). And I felt like I kept getting distracted: I have three buyer clients now, and they have this funny little habit of wanting to see properties and make offers. So Camille, let’s call her Camille, would respond to an e-mail, and then we’d bounce stuff around for awhile, and then the thread would sort of drop off before I’d be able to drag her to see something.

So of course she finally rented through someone else. The indignity! Not losing a buyer to flakiness, but to another agent. It was like a failed seduction. The fact that she wrote me a note and said she’d refer other clients to me helped a little, but it still felt sort of like I-still-like-you-let’s-just-be-friends.

I crawled to my sponsoring broker to whine about this, since I was most upset that it was my fault. If only I had pulled more listings for Camille! Gone to her target neighborhood and knocked on doors! Called her every single day! He was pretty philosophical about it. “It’s hard when they don’t engage,” he said. “When they engage, you engage.”

So here’s hoping one of my d&%n buyers engages. I am certainly in touch with all three of them every day. Still, I’m going to run out of money in two months, so I need another renter. I’m doing a mail drop to try and flush him/her out of the woods, but I do hand-addressed mailings, and they’re tedious and time-consuming.

Plus, I’m not in the city every day — I lost a tenant at the beach house and I’m trying to use the opportunity to freshen up that unit. In the long run, smart; in the short run, distracting. So in a blatant attempt to simply buy a city client, I donated a real estate consultation to our local public school’s silent auction. Since nobody really wants to pay to talk to a Realtor, I threw in dinner for four at a yummy restaurant. It should cost me $250, tops, and it’s for a good cause. Since one of the papers here just started a real estate gossip column, I’m angling for a mention there. Certainly if I get a client out of it, it’s a bargain. And then I can really go to work.

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