I have a new listing for a $2 million, two-bedroom condo in SoHo. For those of you who don’t live in the amusement park that is Manhattan, let me assure you that that is cheap, and I have been showing — so far by appointment only — like crazy. By the time my first week ends, I will have had a dozen showings, including one second showing, before I even get to my open house.
So my spirits are pretty good. I don’t know when this sale will close — I have learned through painful experience not to count my chickens till they’ve been hatched, grown up, and fricasseed — but I feel fairly certain that it will. In order to help my chances, I’ve been doing some Web marketing. One of the ways that I started was to have a Web designer create a simple page, www.7wooster5b.com.
I liked the work she did, so I decided, nutty me, to pay her. The deposit on the Web work was the last check I had on my business account, so today I went to the bank to order a new binder of checks.
My bank is incredibly friendly, and so of course the rep was very nice when he asked me if I wanted to "re-activate" my account. I don’t think he was quite prepared for my double-take.
Me: "Reactivate? What reactivate?"
Him: "Yes, your account is in the system as ‘inactive.’ You see, there hasn’t been any activity in six months."
So there we go; it’s been six whole months without a closing. Thankfully, my Web designer hadn’t tried to cash her check, because even though there was a nice big balance to back it — I’ve got a couple thousand in the account, and she’s not Google — they might not have paid it on the grounds that my money has icicles on it. Hoo boy.
It actually hasn’t been a terrible time — I have a big deal in contract, which, knock on wood, will pay off later this year. And my new SoHo listing is a nice piece of business for me, which will generate a decent commission if we get to the table. If I sold one more property of equivalent size, repping either buyer or seller, my cut of those three deals would equal the salary I used to make as a journalist. That means that if I got one more hit and then I was feeling lazy, I could, theoretically, take August through December off.
(Since I know my husband is going to read this column, let me point out that any thoughts of kicking back and stopping my constant sweaty striving, which makes the rigors of his office job pale in comparison, are purely theoretical.)
But there’s the reality of the real estate business for you. It isn’t like I haven’t been hustling — why just yesterday, a referred renter closed on an apartment that I guided her to, but of course those three days of work were unpaid because the listing agent decided to screw me out of any referral fee, let alone commission. That’s the path I’ve chosen: one where there are mountains and there are valleys, but my, my, some of the valleys are deep and wide.
In the business-y part of my brain, I have a couple of long-term strategies to help cope with this. One, of course, is to try to bank some more cash, so that the business has enough to help weather dry spells. But the other — and this is kind of a grand theoretical dream, so maybe by declaring it to you I can make it more likely — is to set up some sort of metric to measure my time. For example, I understand the unpaid work will always be with us, but am I doing too much of it? Is my ratio of prospecting to closing to paperwork and continuing education the best it could be? (Clearly, the answer is no, because I am correct that it’s not good when your business bank account goes Rip Van Winkle on you, right?)
My goal for getting this kind of measuring and benchmarking in place is the end of the year, so I’ve got some time to think about it. And thank goodness, because I’ve got an apartment to show.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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