Ex-agent doesn’t miss shoveling dog doo

Tom Geller is a freelance writer in San Francisco and author of "Save My Home: 10 Steps for Avoiding Foreclosure."

Geller worked as a real estate agent before becoming a full-time freelancer and discusses the similarities in the two professions.

Geller will speak during the Foreclosure Workshop at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008.

He answered a set of questions posed by Inman News:

What do you see happening in the real estate market in 2008?

I believe values in the residential sector will continue to fall at the current rates throughout the year. In 2009, I believe one of two things will happen: If interest rates remain low, the market will stabilize and values will continue to fall, but at a slower rate. If interest rates increase substantially — say, above 7 percent for a 30-year, conforming, amortized fixed-rate mortgage — we’ll see steeper drops.

What advice do you have to help real estate agents and brokers get through this market?

Accept that you work for a cyclical industry and adapt. Examine: What do you enjoy about your current job? Then find a position that lets you exercise those talents. Salespeople are needed even more in every industry in down cycles.

What was your first job?

I had a newspaper route when I was 14. My first "adult" jobs were in desktop publishing in the early ’90s.

What made you get into real estate?

I’m a full-time writer, and had been doing a lot of writing for technology clients when an agent who knew of my real estate background set me up to write "Save My Home" for Kaplan Publishing. (I hold a California broker’s license and was an agent in San Francisco for a couple of years.)

I’ve been interested in real estate since I was a teenager, but didn’t consider getting into the business until 2001. I did OK as an agent, but ultimately realized I’m more of an academic than a salesperson.

What’s been your biggest challenge in running the business?

Being a freelance writer is a lot like being a real estate agent — you have to get clients! But writing has some advantages: Clients usually provide several jobs a year; there’s far less liability; and you don’t have to shovel dog doo out of the yard (except metaphorically).

If you had one thing to do over again in your life, what would it be?

Learn to learn earlier.

What style of home do you live in and when did you buy it?

I rent, in a four-unit Edwardian (1902) in The Castro.

What worries keep you awake at night?

Not much, really. I stay awake because my schedule allows me to be a night owl. Dangerous!

What lesson did you learn in the last year?

To be able to do "building work" instead of worrying, when clients are thin on the ground.

What would your second career choice be?

I don’t care what I’m doing, honestly: As long as the situation is good, I’m happy. For example, I liked being able to set my own schedule (mostly) as a real estate agent, and I still like that as a freelance writer. But now I can leave town whenever I want!

What kind of music do you listen to?

I fall asleep to Internet radio stations (Drone Zone, Groove Salad, Space Station Soma).

Hear Geller speak at Real Estate Connect in San Francisco, July 23-25, 2008. The conference program and registration are available online via the Connect Web site.


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