Oh yoicks is it cold out there. We are in a spell where the highs are in the 20s and the lows are in the teens. I had already learned from going to school in Boston not to wear earrings in this kind of wintry weather, but I wasn’t that aware of my new glasses and so now I have an abrasion on either side of my nose where my glasses have kind of frozen onto my face.

The outside, though, is something I’m basically avoiding: At this point it’s all about wrap up, run the errand, and get back indoors. Except when indoors is my office.

One of my sponsoring brokers’ keys to success in real estate is, well, having a great eye for real estate. Our office is a huge loft-like space that he snagged years ago, when the neighborhood wasn’t nearly as nice.

It’s also, um, rather unimproved. To say we invest in our customers and in not in our reception area is an understatement. I remember that last year we celebrated the boom by getting new carpet.

When I was a full-time reporter, I was told over and over again by successful small-businessmen that a key to success is keeping your costs low. Watch the company’s money like it’s your own.

Well, in our office that’s been done. As a result, in this cold snap, the agents in my office are clustered around portable heaters like Christmas-tree salesmen. I went in for the entire day on Tuesday, since I had a list of 15 things to do, and I went for the always fashion-forward "sweater and ski cap" look while doing my computer work and talking on the phone. I couldn’t see my breath but it was definitely nippy, and I made about a dozen trips to the microwave to zap a mug of hot water to warm my hands.

If you’re wondering if I had a song in my heart about this, I did not. I said to my boss, "If I ever leave you it will be to go to work in a place where the computers work … (a line delivered just as I whomped my computer on the side of its little electronic head) and there’s heat."

But you know what? It’s partly as a result of that frugality that I have a place to work. The local headlines aren’t good. What the rest of the country has been suffering through is just now coming to us, and business is stalling out. As a result, one New York City boutique firm with three offices — which at one point had 80 agents — just closed. Another 12-office firm just closed two offices and, even though they’re relocating all their agents, it will leave some administrators unemployed.

We, on the other hand, feel pretty sure that we can make it through the downturn, cold hands and all. That’s something I’m pretty thankful for — that and our jazzy new carpet.

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


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