I follow the rule — I don’t even remember where I read it — that my success in my real estate business is based on a three-month lag, that what I do today influences whether I am going to be eating ramen or steak 90 days from now. Given that, my goal for October was to set up some sort of contact management database: My business is growing beyond my ability to run it off Post-its, and I wanted to do what I have not been able to do for two years, which was to have a busy spring.

Well, it’s November and still no database. For good or for ill, I did other things. I find that that is one of the most difficult aspects of this business, that the present gets in the way of the future. But in the spirit of self-examination, here’s what I did instead, and why I did it:

1) Closed a personal sale. I sold my second home, which was an investment property that I had once lived in. Tying up the loose ends — which included evicting the tenants, moving a bunch of furniture into storage, and tossing mountains of junk — ate a great deal of time. The positive? A pile of cash that’s ready to be invested in a new home.

2) Moved a big sale into contract. The market has been choppy here in New York City — I’m not complaining, I know it’s not as bad as in the rest of the country, but we are seeing a lot of handshakes and not so many closings. I have a property that I listed in March that saw three accepted offers go bust — so I spent a lot of the last month making sure I had a deposit and a signed contract come in on go-round number four. The positive? We’re not closed, but we are closer. This is an expensive property in an area I have geographically targeted, so I need both the money and the big win.

3) Closed a rental. This is a rule from my Bernice Ross tapes: The business that you can close within the next seven days comes first. Rentals are a pain; they require a lot of detail work for a relatively low commission, so the hourly rate earned is low. The positive? One more satisfied customer to help build my referral tree.

4) Bought smokin’ new glasses. It seems folly in these times of economic doom and gloom to spend money on anything that didn’t come from a dollar store — but image is something, and I could afford it, so I gave myself a little bit of a style injection. The positive? Even my older clothes suddenly look hip again.

5) Took some time out to get involved with my sphere. Sure, their addresses aren’t collected in any one place, but I still want to see my clients. I took my last clients, who had relocated from across the country, to a cute neighborhood spot for dinner. This was two months after their deal had closed, and I felt it was important to take the time to make sure they were getting settled in their new life. The positive? Later, when my database actually is set up, they should be a little bit more tolerant of my mailings.

Looking back, I’m not sad that I did any of the things that I did, even though I didn’t manage to computerize my life any. Now let’s see if I can get my act organized and together during November.

Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."


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