Another never-ending day

Letters From the Home Front

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5 a.m.

I’ve already worked a full day. That’s because I spent the last eight hours writing offers and scanning contracts. I even managed to squeeze in a couple of listing appointments in my dreams. That was just a dress rehearsal, though. The presence of a mewing, overfed cat now resting atop my face — the one I am pretty sure I am allergic too — tells me it is show time.

First up is the steaming inbox. I cleared it before retiring last night, and this morning I am rewarded with 52 new messages, each more time-sensitive than the next. My Web site search-engine optimization is working overtime — I’ve got six new "leads," and all before my first cup of coffee!

There is an inquiry from a couple asking when the special assessment on their home will sunset (the assessment for the home in which they plan on growing old and dying). Another woman wants me to pick her up at the airport on Saturday and show her homes that, given her parameters, exist only in Georgia (the country, not the state), because she might move here some day — or not. A third "potential client" wants to know if any of our listings are for rent.

Three other Web site visitors simply stopped by to suggest that I could rank better on Google if I hired them to optimize me. This morning, I think I’ll pass.

As for the rest of my inbox, well, if I shut my eyes I can envision myself at the airline ticket counter on Christmas Eve when they have just announced that all remaining flights have been canceled.

"I want a walkthrough." "Where’s my contingency removal?" "Tell the buyers I’m not replacing the faucet, and if they don’t like it, I’ll just rent." "We need to see these eight homes at 9:30!" Some I dispense with; others I simply forward to my unsuspecting husband, who is currently out on an errand to refill my coffee.

6:30 a.m.

Clearing the inbox is like painting the Golden Gate Bridge; as soon as you are finished, you start over again. I’m already off to my next task — reviewing four of our agents’ transaction files and closing out several of my own — but I keep checking back, because the hits keep on coming. The buyer wants to cancel? It seems that for this half-million-dollar home, the leaking faucet is a deal breaker. I see a trip to Home Depot in my future.

7:30 a.m.

Where’s my daughter? Steve assures me she yelled "Goodbye!" as she was leaving for school. Or, maybe it wasn’t school. I check the date on my feed reader page. Yep, it’s Monday. School it is.

Still in my bathrobe, one pot of coffee down and with enough caffeine in my system to win the men’s downhill event quite handily — without skis — I order a couple of photo shoots for new listings.

And I write the property descriptions for a couple of brochures that need to be ordered. "What’s another word for ‘stylish’?" I am wondering when the instant chat box crashes my train-of-thought party. "Can I provide a market analysis to help with a property tax appeal?" asks the nice man who, like everyone else I have talked to this morning, has no real intention of moving. I sure can! I’ll get that to him this afternoon, I promise.

9:30 a.m.

The stager is on time. Today, our mission is to "prettify" a home that is decorated in "Early Encyclopedia Britannica." I didn’t know that Hummel made that many different, whimsical figurines! The owner has already moved on to greener, far-away digs, so it is up to the stager, one reluctant husband and me to rearrange the home in a way most likely to minimize the impact of the really bad wallpaper and the really big beer stein collection.

This bookcase is heavy! Good thing there are three of us to move it downstairs and into the garage. Steve has a new power driver, and he knows how to use it, so down the drapes come. He can also, it turns out, spackle like it’s nobody’s business. Forty-seven trips to the garage later, it becomes clear that we need more boxes. I’ll return later, I assure the stager, with boxes. And dust rags.

Noon

A girl’s got to eat, and this girl needs comfort food. Back at my computer, with some really rockin’ carne asada fries to my left — and suddenly thinking that maybe my jeans didn’t shrink — I start working on the ad that’s due to the printer by, uh, noon. I am also on the phone with a new agent who is joining us soon. …CONTINUED

I want to make this agent’s move as seamless as possible, and there are a lot of moving parts. We need to help with the design of new signs, cards and other collaterals; we have agreements to sign, memberships to transfer, and general training to conquer.

I have new e-mails from two of our other agents, each needing advice on their own transactional conundrums. Two calls later, crises averted, "Steve the Builder" is back in the building. We are finally getting that contingency removal, he informs, but only if they get the signed request for repairs back.

After 47 days of high-energy negotiations on behalf of our respective clients who now want each other dead, neither party trusts the other. So, he is driving across town to meet the buyer’s agent in the parking lot of a deli to exchange documents. I caution him to take his cloak, and we practice the secret handshake so he doesn’t blow the operation.

2 p.m.

Suddenly finding my decision to attach the word "supremo" to my lunch order highly regrettable, I collect my agent trappings in preparation for my return to the cosmetically challenged House of Hummels. But first, I have to take a call.

"No, you cannot take the drapes." "Yes, they were included in the contract, as we discussed when you signed the offer, and as we have revisited 30 times in as many days." "No, you can’t just trade them a refrigerator; they already have one." "Well, you could do that, but they could delay closing or take you to small claims court." "Trade the washer and dryer? OK, I’ll ask."

Inching closer to the car, the phone rings again. This man got our name from a past client. I "heart" referrals! Now, I will be helping him sell his manufactured home, one he says should net him enough to pay off both his truck and his bike. I hang up, secretly hoping that the latter is a Schwinn.

2:30 p.m.

I cease backing out of the driveway when I see my daughter’s own car curbside. I should probably poke my head into her room before I leave, just to refresh my memory. "I’ll be back late, but I’ll get you fed — I promise!" I lie. She tells me not to worry. It seems she did a number on some leftover carne asada fries she found in the refrigerator, so she can hold.

5:30 p.m.

Having dusted and vacuumed all 2,500 square feet and feeling generally pleased with the transformation, we lock up the Palace of Priceless Possessions, and the stager follows me to the next home. This one is just a "consult," which really means we will be moving more furniture in anticipation of the actual staging. We arrive looking like we have spent the better part of the day harvesting cash crops.

It’s dark now, not to mention raining, but we are trained professionals, so we proceed to carry furniture up and down stairs and out to the garage some more. We agree to reconvene in the morning for the big event.

7 p.m.

I arrive back at the office (which occasionally doubles as my home) and find Steve eating something of the chicken variety. I probably should wonder where it came from since I haven’t been to the grocery store since, oh, November, but I am too tired to think that hard. Plus, now is the time we like to kick back with a cocktail and "debrief."

I learn that the clandestine contract swap was a failure when the other agent failed to produce the signed contingency removal — something about the buyer’s son’s soccer game and a delay in loan underwriting. When we are finished with "happy" hour, I will need to send a Notice to Perform for the seller’s signature.

Steve picked out the carpeting today for our little beach listing, the one with an absentee seller, and even met the painters for an estimate. It looks like this one will come in well under budget, he tells me, looking as proud as if he had just bought a new power driver.

Steve will meet the photographer tomorrow if I will attend the staging. I will order the swag for the upcoming community fair if he will order the termite inspection. Negotiations nearly complete, I ask for help.

I have an article due for Inman News. "Do you have any ideas for topics?" I beg, because right now, I’ve got nothing.

Kris Berg is broker-owner of San Diego Castles Realty. She also writes a consumer-focused real estate blog, The San Diego Home Blog.

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