If you haven’t seen "Marley & Me," it won’t destroy the movie to tell you that one of the cutest moments in the movie is when the John Grogan character, played by Owen Wilson, illustrates the passage of time by describing the flow of his work. It goes something like this: "I wrote a story about gas prices. I wrote a story about water prices. I wrote a story about the council election. I wrote a story about orange juice."
It’s a really great montage (oh, go see the durned movie, it’s about a dog) and it brings home that T.S. Eliot bit about measuring a life with coffee spoons. And that’s really what this week has been, a blizzard of activity.
What have I done? I showed an apartment and then I looked at an apartment and then I took my shoes off and saw another apartment and then I couldn’t get into an apartment and then I sent some e-mails to make some appointments and used a combination of politeness and aggressiveness to try to get into the apartment I couldn’t get into. I wrote some post on local real estate chat boards. This is what I do all day.
And I am, for one of the few times in my career, wondering if I am stretched too thin. Spring is not the be-all and end-all of the year, but it is certainly a harbinger, and it would set a nice tone if some of the things I were working on in the winter sold in the spring. So I am trying to get ready for it, but for the first time since I became an agent I have no shortage of clients and there simply aren’t enough hours in the day for me to meet all their demands.
What’s more, I fear that I have the wrong customers and the wrong clients. My richest client is in contract and does not want to close; my poorest client has the energy, well, of a Labrador retriever puppy; the listing that would bring customers out on Super Bowl Sunday I can’t get into; and I fear that traffic will be light on the listing that I actually have an open house on.
For their part, interest rates have crept nastily up these past few weeks, so any hope that super-low rates and sunshine would be a recipe for recovery from the current real estate slump is being dashed on at least one front. Hubby and I have been looking for ourselves, and we get excited about something and then brought low and then excited about something else and then brought low again.
Meanwhile, I open a folder and write down a cell phone number and stick in a show sheet and open another folder and take out a show sheet and write down a cell phone number. Today I did something that I am not particularly fond of or good at, which is to send a follow-up out to everyone who had attended a recent open house. In my experience, if someone has liked an apartment they will find you, but I do the follow-up because, if I were the seller, I would want my agent to. Nothing I do seems perfunctory, I hope, but sometimes the results aren’t exactly jazzy, either.
On the other hand, the agent who was representing one of the properties that we liked sent me a good follow-up, and by that I mean it came the day after we had been to the open house, instead of the two or three days after that mine do. Since I remember being impressed by the follow-up, I went back and read it. It was a form letter. A warm form letter — but that doesn’t matter. When I first read it I was impressed by it. Yet, it didn’t make me turn around and buy the apartment either.
Instead, I talked to a mortgage broker about financing and then to another mortgage broker about financing and then to a fellow agent to bemoan how tough it is to get financing these days. The routine isn’t a bad one — it is just that there is so much of it. We’re going on vacation in a couple of weeks, and, although I don’t think I’ll be able to measure my life in passport stamps any time soon, the break can’t come fast enough.
Alison Rogers is a licensed salesperson and author of "Diary of a Real Estate Rookie."
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